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ATPM 4.10
October 1998


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Art Department

by Jamal Ghandour,

HTML Editors

It took me the better part of the month just to find out how to start this month’s column. “HTML Editors” is quite a subject to cover in a single session, however I have tried my best to cover the most essential points, so that you may find the editor that best fits your needs. I am sorry if I missed anyone’s favorite HTML editor.

What is “HTML”?

The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is the language used for writing Web pages. What makes HTML so special is that it is both easily interpreted on the fly (by Web browsers) and it allows the same pages to be viewed by many different computer systems (because it is so simple.) So simple in fact, that programming even the simplest web documents takes a lot of tedious work.

HTML Editors: An Overview

As the name suggests, the HTML language is made up of normal text characters, making it possible to program it even through normal word processors. Nonetheless, HTML editors are better equipped for this task, since they are made to handle the HTML and to debug it.

Below are a few popular and well-featured HTML editors you should consider:

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BBEdit 4.5.3

Most Webmasters worth their salt use BBEdit to write their HTML code. Manual programming might be more difficult but it gives total control over every aspect of the document. Plus it allows the programmer to take advantage of nonstandard tags.

Best Features: Multi-file search and replace (including regex/grep support), multiple levels of undos, drag-and-drop text editing, plug-in architecture, HTML syntax coloring, floating tag palettes, syntax checking, integration with Anarchie and NetFinder (FTP clients) and Frontier (Web content management system), and finally HTML-savvy spell checking.

Overall: If you are well versed with your HTML skills then this is definitely the editor for you. The commercial version absolutely rocks. (Is it too obvious that this is my personal favorite?) The Lite version, which is absolutely free, can be downloaded at

Visit to read the ATPM review of BBEdit 4.0.4.

Level: Advanced - Expert


This product offers just about everything any HTML programmer will ever need. It is a true WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor that can have you designing awesome Web documents in no time.

Best Features: WYSIWYG, templates, drag-and-drop, frames, expanded multi-media support, forms, graphics workshop, tutorials, word processing tools, conversion tools, and validation.

Overall: A comprehensive package coming from SoftQuad, which has long been a leader in the area of HTML editors. It is ideal for everyone who is skilled with HTML yet still needs the easiness of a WYSIWYG editor.

Level: Intermediate - Advanced

GoLive CyberStudio 3.0

This is every designer’s dream come true, not only does it let you do WYSIWYG Web pages but it even goes through the trouble of automating JavaScript. For example, CyberStudio can automatically generate that mouse rollover script everyone seems to be after these days. One other particularly useful feature is that you can assign the browser(s) you are targeting and the program will automatically make sure the HTML is compatible with them. CyberStudio is equipped with an arsenal of such niceties, and although there’s lots of talk about the “dirty” HTML it generates, it truly does the job for all those art directors who could not care less about clean HTML but need to get their work done.

Best Features: Grid layouts (for precision placing,) WYSIWYG, web publishing, cascading style sheets, Dynamic HTML (DHTML) Actions, Java & JavaScript, plug-in architecture, templates, drag-and-drop, frames, expanded multi-media support, and forms.

Overall: Received a five mouse review in the July 1998 (UK based) MacUser Magazine, which is hard to argue with. If you want more out of your regular HTML editor, then this is the application for you.

Level: Intermediate - Advanced

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Adobe PageMill

PageMill is a very popular application in the featherweight category. Ideal for first timers who do not want to get into complex HTML coding, but still want to have good looking pages. The lack of Java support is especially bothersome here, but I guess novices will not go for that either.

Best Features: WYSIWYG, anchors, tables, forms, image maps, and frames.

Overall: It is effective, simple, and small. It makes the process of generating relatively simple Web pages a breeze. Nowadays, Adobe is even including SiteMill (a Web publishing tool) to keep up with the competition. For the price, it is a snap!

Level: Novice - Intermediate

Netscape Navigator Gold/Composer

Since Netscape has long been seen as a browser, its Web authoring capabilities seem to always be ignored. This is a real pity since it is both free and quite capable.

Best Features: WYSIWYG, Java and JavaScript, wizards, drag-and-drop, publishing, and tables.

Overall: Not exactly powerful, but it makes the casual jobs easy. Ideal for anyone who wants quick and compatible Web pages (remember that by using Netscape Gold or Netscape Composer, the pages generated are Netscape standard.)

Level: Novice - Intermediate

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Until next month, please do not hesitate to send any suggestions, comments, criticisms, or even topics you would like to see in this column to

[apple graphic] Copyright © 1998 Jamal Ghandour, Jamal Ghandour is currently the Executive Manager at SwiftAd international.

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