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This 67 message thread spans 3 pages: 67 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Should I use an HTML editor or stick with Notepad?
Marching up the learning curve, where do I go now?

 2:08 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

During the last two weeks, with much assistance from this site as a lurker, I have managed to find a domain name, register it, get it re-directed to the free 5mb that my ISP provides, write a very small html page in notepad and get it into the ISP's 5mb space.

Frankly, I'm just pretty proud of myself, considering I didn't even know what HTML was last week. There have been many times I wanted to beat my head into a wall with frustration, but I got it done!

My question now is how to begin developing more than that 1 page "coming soon" that I put up. I learned a little bit of HTML from a site called "NCSA - A Beginner's Guide to HTML". While it covered the basics thoroughly I don't know where to go to learn more, or most importantly achieve fluency with HTML. I see two options, either learn HTML throughly from scratch, or find some type of HTML editor that can be toggled back and forth from the source code to editor so that I can use it and then reverse-engineer what it did.

Which would you reccomend to me? And where should I go to learn more HTML and/or what editor program might fit the bill? Unless of course you have a third option?

And thanks for providing a place like this where a newb can ask the dumb questions without fear.



 2:42 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey there Gatwick,

If you're using notepad you may want to download a nicer text editor to use. I run with textpad (www.textpad.com) personally, although most people prefer something a bit more serious when they start getting heavily into programming. Two decent editors around that I have used are dreamweaver and homesite. Even frontpage (which now comes standard with office) will allow you to swap between viewing the page and viewing the source code very easily which seems to be what you want.
If you're not aware, I'll just mention that on html websites you can just right click on the page and choose 'view source' to see how the website was written. This makes it very easy to see how other people do things. (You wont see server side scripts or be able to view flash sites but I don't imagine you'll be dealing with that for a while ;)

I also recommend checking out w3schools (just google it) for some helpful tutorials and such, although this forum is possibly the best I've found for general help on the vast majority of subjects.


 2:52 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hey Gatwick,
Welcome to WebmasterWorld :)

First off very well done. You seam to have got to grips with the basics in a very short time. Understanding how domains work, what webspace is and how to point a domain to your web space is probably the biggest challenge.

Many people do not know what web space is. It's just a website, why does it need space? What do you mean the domain isn't what holds the site :)

You've got this far so it's all fun from here on in.

If I where you I would stick with notepad just now. Nothing can help you learn html faster than actually writing it. When you develop an understanding of how HTML works, you can then have a look around to see if you want to use an editor. Generally editors are designed to make it easier. But they do not always write code as good as a human. If you have an understanding of the actual code, then you will be in a much better position to get the most from what ever editor you choose. many editors offer a free trial version, so closer to the time you can test them all out and decide what one works best for you.

As I said you should use this time to really get to grips with html. HTML is the building block of the web. Get an idea in your head then try building it. You can do this using nothing more than notepad and an internet browser. Simply write your html file and open it with your browser. make changes to your file, save it and refresh the browser.

Once you feel as if you are getting to grips with writing simple pages you can move onto multi page sites. Even 2 or three pages will get you used to linking your pages together. You might have a homepage with a little info about you, then a link to a hobbies page with some information about your hobbies.

What it all comes down to is practice. Have an idea in your head for a page, make it a reality then you can handle HTML :)

But don't let me catch you using an editor until that happens :)



 3:03 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would suggest using an editor such as dreamweaver or front page just to see all the cr** that isn't needed.

Prepare the page in one of those, then go back in and see what was produced and start taking stuff out until it breaks. then put back what you need.

Eventually you won't need the visual clues anymore just as a good composer doesn't need to bang the notes at a piano to "hear" the music.

I haven't used DW for years - I'm a textpad fan. But I did start with dreamweaver which gave me a good head start.


 3:08 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not sure about using an editor at all at the start. I did and feel it was the worst move I made. I was just using the designer interface and not even looking at the code this thing was spitting out. Then when th epenny finaly dropped it was like having to start learning all over again.

Pehaps using both the designer interface and code window is a good thing, but just make sure you knwo what is actualy happening. Dont just take the editors word for it.



 4:22 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ultraedit 32 is the best editor (ultraedit.com) download the trial before committing to anything else. Dreamweaver is way too expensive and FrontPage was a nightmare for me (it 'fixes' stuff that doesn't need fixing, very MS).


 9:16 am on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

There are two ways of looking at this -

1. Is to leave well alone an concentrate on learning html rather than perhaps spread yourself to thin and have to learn how to use a more complex editor as well.

2. Is to go in at the deep and and get an editor and learn how to use it. In the long term it will speed you up.

It just depends on how quickly you want to get things done.

If you go the editor route-

Using an editor like Dreamweaver may take you away from using & understanding html. Although it covers both its a strong temptation to get something done using its built in features rather than understanding the basic html.

I would favour a much older product like 1st Page 2000. It has all the basics for html editing like colouring syntax differently, so you can spot errors by colouring changes. A simple 1 button preview of what the page looks like in Internet Explorer and its free.

If you choose the last one, some virus checkers pickup what might be a script virus in it. I don't think it is but clean it/heal it before you use it.

Good Luck and Enjoy!


 3:41 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

What is a HTML editor?
Oh, you probably mean a WYSIWYG editor. ;)

My advice is:

1). Stick to a hardcode text editor.
2). Use the JEdit (jedit.org) text editor because it works on the Java platform (not to be confused with JavaScript). The Java platform is installable on any other platform (Windows, MacOS, Linux etc.), which makes coding much more flexible if you once decide to run multible platforms for development, hosting etc. purposes.


 3:46 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would suggest using an editor such as dreamweaver

Blimey haven't heard that in a while.

Sorry - beg to disagree.... I use homesite if not notepad - i think using Dreamweaver places loads of additional unwanted code on the page, doesn't encourage you to develop your skills 'manually' and to be honest is a great waste of money - IMHO.

Though my html is pretty poor to be honest, at least there are only 90 lines of poor html rather than 300 lines of 'perfect' code. ;)


 3:52 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)


As someone who redesigns a lot of websites written in WYSIWYG editors (because they were on the internet for years and never went anywhere) I would recommend you stick with learning to write your own code because there isn't a WYSIWYG editor out there that validates and doesn't produce code bloat, even the newest edititons of FrontPage, DreamWeaver, et. al.

When you learn how to write HTML and also CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) then you also can get lots of work redesigning websites produced in WYSIWYG editors :o)


 3:55 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'll add my 2 cents...

I started, like you using a text editor. I feel like it's given me a great advantage - I know the code inside out, which lets me keep it as simple as possible, and I understand it better if (when) things go wrong.

Recently I've started using Dreamweaver, mainly because I had a copy on my PC already, and it means I can use dreamweaver to quickly build the stuff that's boring to code but still hack the code to make sure it's all nice simple.

I'd recommend sticking with notepad, or a simple HTML editor which colour codes the different tags to make it clearer to look at, then moving to something like dreamweaver once you feel comfortable with hand coding.

Also remember 'view source' is your best friend - you can learn alot by looking at other people's code.



 4:07 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry - beg to disagree.... I use homesite if not notepad - i think using Dreamweaver places loads of additional unwanted code on the page, doesn't encourage you to develop your skills 'manually' and to be honest is a great waste of money - IMHO.

Here here. I've used Homesite (and its predecessors like ColdFusion Studio, back when Allaire owned both) for numerous years now and to date, after trying dozens of other HTML editors, it is still the beest - and not just for HTML, but once you get into more hardcore stuff like PHP, ASP, database stuff, etc. For PHP, for example, it even still beats out PHP-specific editors like PHPEdit.

So to answer you question Gatwick, if you're serious about working on the web, learn to hand code. Otherwise, pick up Dreamweaver.


 4:30 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

i think using Dreamweaver places loads of additional unwanted code on the page, doesn't encourage you to develop your skills 'manually' and to be honest is a great waste of money

Absolutely, and write all your word processing documents in Rich Text Format too.

Don't be a slacker, you can master Adobe PostScript when you need to print something as well.

Nobody needs 'manual' HTML skills to put content on a page and the handful of extra code DreamWeaver inserts isn't worth the bandwidth to write about as most people can't optimize graphics properly and burn more bandwidth in a single image than all the handcoding would ever save.

WSYSIWYG or a nice CMS package is where it's at! You get more quality content online faster so you can get it indexed quicker and get back to the business of making money and not wasting time with bit twiddling nerd work of hand tweaking HTML.

However, for those die hard hand coding bit twiddlers out there I sell customizable propeller hats and we'll embroider your logo on them :)

[edited by: incrediBILL at 4:38 pm (utc) on Oct. 17, 2005]


 4:33 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I will throw my support to HTMLKit

Free, many time saving features, and still leaves you intimate with the markup.



 4:45 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Once you master html, then learn css. Two threads to get you going:



You can always learn DW or FP later. The ability to code using something like notepad can only benefit you when you you do start using a wysiwyg editor, whereas the converse of that is not true, IMHO.


 4:56 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Gatwick

I wouldn't class myself as an expert but you may want to look at something like 1st Page 2000 downloadable for free from Evrsoft.
It's basically a text editor with a few additions. If you move on to coding PHP you will appreciate an editor that displays line numbers.

jamesgray ww

 5:10 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

What you need is most impotantly a good clear text editor with some useful features to help with the editing and formatting of your HTML. At the end of the day once you have mastered the language what you need is an efficient way to produce your code.

Dreamweaver/ Frontpage etc are all way to intrusive and try to be clever when it's really not needed.

There are plenty of good text editors out there so it may well just come down to a matter of preference.

Homesite would be my recommendation.

What I you should look for are:

1) Colour Coding :: Highlights your code (HTML) in a way such that comments, tables, form tags all stand out from normal text and makes coding much easier.

2) Tag editors :: These help you quickly pull together all elements of a particular tag. So activating the image editor allows you to select your image, add title and alt element and apply images maps quickly and all in one go.

3) Inbuilt FTP client :: This means that you can create, browse and upload your pages all from one application.

4) CSS :: Look for inbuilt style sheet editing. The benefits of this will become apparent once you become more proficient.

5) Others :: line numbering, file & folder browser, tabbed files, "quick links" editor toolbar (for quick formatting), lots of good varied search and replace features, link checker, colour picker.

Well, just mt thoughts on the matter anyway...


 5:13 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am surprised that no one recommended notetab. There is a free version with a host of addon clip libraries to help with html, css and even php. For those who like DW try NVU a free visual editor with good css support and both windows and linux versions.


 6:06 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone ever notice that the maker of the world dominant browser Internet Explorer also makes FrontPage?

FrontPage was #66 on Amazon's most popular software list when I checked this morning.

'Nuff said.


 6:21 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I like Notepad2 for my custom XML docs. I think it's even Open Source, as well.


 6:25 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I use UltraEdit. It's never failed me. I think using a text editor forces you to have cleaner code. Cleaner code = lighter files = faster load and less b/w usage.


 6:32 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

To a certain extent, the "right" answer to this question is the answer that fits your needs best.

I would certainly recommend that you learn some HTML. But whether you stick to all handcoding is a choice only you can make.

For instance, I'm not a web-designer. Yes, I have a web site and, yes, I designed it. But I'm a math teacher. My site is my outlet, not my profession. I use a WYSIWYG editor (Namo's "WebEditor") to compose my pages. I'll be the first to admit that there's loads I don't know. But I do know enough HTML to fix what the WYSIWYG editor sometimes "breaks". (To be fair, though, my experience with FrontPage was much worse than anything I've had to put up with from WebEditor.) So I need my HTML knowledge, but I don't need it very often, and I don't (seem to) need much.

But this is what works for me. You need to figure out what works for you.

And try to have some fun while you're at it! [smile]



 6:39 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I use the CoffeeCup HTML editor. It has all the basic features including colour coding, line numbering etc.. which are very useful too when/if you get into scripting or CSS authoring. It has an integrated FTP client, which makes viewing your page as you update a breeze. Most importantly, it gives you complete control over the HTML and doesn't insert extraneous code like some other programs out there.


 7:14 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wow there are a lot of opinions on this one. For myself I've been professionally designing for seven years and vote for Dreamweaver. It just rocks my world. The Library functions which lets you update certain sections (like navigation) and make changes site-wide automatically is indispensable to me. Also it's integration with Fireworks just makes my life so much easier. Fireworks is the Macromedia graphics program and I like it a lot.

Knowing how to code is a big plus but not entirely necessary. Also who cares if there is a bit of extraneous code? I find Dreamweaver writes reasonably tight code. Not as tight as handwritten but a page takes me 1/4 the time that it would otherwise so who cares if there is a bit extra code?

DW is expensive if you buy the latest, but I recommend going on to eBay and buying an older version. Anything 5+ should do the trick.

Good luck and welcome to the world of webmasters!


 7:17 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Oh I forgot to mention that I highly recommend avoiding Front Page. Gad I hate that program. I have seen whole sites designed in Front Page that cannot even be viewed with a non-IE browser (like Firefox). And it's templates are so overused...I can spot a pre-fab Front Page site in a second. And the code is not only extraneous but RIDICULOUSLY obtuse and for all purposed uneditable if you decide to get into the HTML. Dreamweaver on the other had writes code a little verbose but I can always get in and easily understand it.


 8:18 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Stick to a simple text editor that perhaps does color coding.

wysiwyg editors such as dreamweaver and frontpage are like riding a bicycle with training wheels compared to riding Lance Armstrongs bike. They are like walking with crutches compared to running a 26-mile marathon in under 3-hrs. Which would rather be able to do?

And the time factor? I can make a thousand page site by hand faster than you can with dreamweaver. And, I can update it more easily too. Of course, if you do not know how to hand code properly you will doubt me.

Be a pro. Code by hand. Those who know, know its a fact.

IMHO, of course.


 8:40 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'll submit one vote for HomeSite (Macromedia). a glorified text editor with some nice time-saving features.


 8:58 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)


Hmmm, everyone including me seems keen to tell you you good there editor is - what a surprise ...

Going back to your question which was more than which editor. I too recommend w3schools.

But I stick to my html editor :-) but then I have got used to it, I am sure others are as good or better. Try a few free ones.


 9:04 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with the code by hand sentiment. But if you're just learning and time is a factor then one of the WYSIWYG editors may be a good idea to get started.

If you go the editor route let me suggest you make sure each page validates and WHEN you get errors look them up on W3C so you understand them and fix them by hand.

I've been building sites for about 5 years now. I started out with Adobe GoLive due to time constraints and have worked into hand coding. Now I practically hand code everything.

I have worked with several versions of FrontPage and Dreamweaver and, while GoLive certainly adds some of it's own HTML, it is also a LOT cleaner than FP or DW. Of course, that is also my opinion. I don't have any experience with the other editors mentioned. But I'm looking forward to checking some of them out.


 9:05 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

for all purposed uneditable if you decide to get into the HTML

Having done hand edits on quite a few FrontPage sites I'll say this is an overstatement of the decade. FrontPage 98 was pretty bad regarding Netscape/Firefox but later releases so a decent job across the board.

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