Friday, July 15, 2011

My (current) favorite HTML editor

I've been writing HTML for about 17 years now, hard as that is to believe. I'm not a fan of WYSIWYG editors - I prefer to use text-based editors. It's how I learned, and as far as I'm concerned, usually easier.

After graduating from Notepad, the first editor I bought was something called WebEdit Pro, by Luckman. It had a clean, well-organized interface and I used it for several years before I discovered HomeSite.

HomeSite, originally developed by Nick Bradbury (who later went on to create TopStyle, still my favorite CSS editor) was acquired by Allaire, who sold it as a standalone editor, and as a repackaged editor for their flagship ColdFusion software.

Incidently, the original freeware version, Homesite 1.2 (written for Windows 95), is still out there on the web, though it's gotten harder to find. Its feature set is pretty basic, but it's still usable, and still has fans. Google it if you're curious.

I used various versions of HomeSite for a period covering close to 15 years, through Allaire, then Macromedia (who bundled it with Dreamweaver) to Adobe (after they acquired Macromedia). Finally Adobe put the knife to it -- the bastards. The copy I used was long out of support and I knew it was time to find a new favorite HTML editor.

Confession: I don't really like IDE's (Integrated Development Environment) type products. I just want a freaking text editor that makes it easy to write HTML. So that ruled out some highly praised and interesting products such as Eclipse, Aptana or Komodo-IDE, (although Komodo-Edit looks interesting). For a while I just used Notepad++, which, though "just" a text editor was a far cry from Windows Notepad application.

Then I started using BlueFish on my Linux box at home (it's the default KDE HTML editor), and discovered there existed a version for Windows. I had found my editor.

In many ways, BlueFish reminds me of the old HomeSite: buttons to insert tags, searching, file browser. The interface can be customized, if you have a preferred set of tasks. It also has a lot of support for PHP (which HomeSite did not) and a great feature: tag matching (I don't know about you, but keeping track of how may curly brackets you've got, and which closes which, drives me nuts). It's also got good auto tag completion, along with some contextual messages about tag usage. The feature set is rich without feeling bloated.

It's got its occasional bits of flakiness and rough edges, but overall it's stable and dependable. I'd used the Linux version on and off for about year and have been using the Windows version pretty solidly for the last 3 months at work. It's open source (and free), and versions exist for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

I can't remember the last time I launched HomeSite.

I think I've found its replacement.


Dean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
clod said...

I prefer to use Codelobster