web page editing tools compared

List assembled by Blake Nancarrow (blaken@computer-ease.com) of Computer Ease for the Computer Trainers Network (CTN) on 24 Nov 2000.

development speed
learning curve
HTML knowledge
code size
code quality
spelling checking
site editing
smart transfers
special effects
tool cost
overall cost


XXX I recall my specific thought process when I considered first building web pages (in 1995):
  • should I learn HTML?
  • will learning HTML be tough?
  • should I learn an editor authoring tool?
  • will I have to learn a tool and HTML?
  • how long will it take?
  • what if a tool generates improper or invalid HTML?

I decided to learn just HTML, or at least concentrate on only HTML at first. It was cheaper, faster, I only had to worry about learning one thing, I didn't have to worry about other people's interpretations of HTML. It has worked out pretty good.

Admittedly, a variety of things helped me:

  • my formal programming experience (FORTRAN, Pascal, xBASE, VBA, etc.)
  • my exposure to tagged languages and tagged environments (a VAX SGML variant, WordPerfect 5.1 DOS, old WordStar!)
  • I am very comfortable at file and disk management
  • I am very comfortable with communication technology, web surfing, modems, transferring files between computers, downloading and installing programs (thanks to John Bramwell)
  • I have more than one internet access point (a local ISP, CompuServe, Mom's Bell Sympatico)
  • I have different computers to work and test on (Macintosh, Windows machine, Psion palmtops)
  • I have installed many different browsers (Netscape Navigator and Communicator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera, Psion) onto my computers, so to see web pages in many different scenarios.
  • I had (!) a lot of time to experiment

The learning curve is steeper I believe if your footing is weak in these areas. In that case, it might be better for one to go the authoring route. But then these applications are in and of themselves very rich and take a greater time to fully assimilate.