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 separate web building tools into a few categories.

text editor: An ASCII text editing program, such as Windows Notepad or SimpleText on the Mac. These "thin" programs do not support text or paragraph formatting. Simple in scope, often without toolbar buttons, without automatic saving or spelling-checking features. Usually included (freely) with operating system software. A developer must enter all codes manually.

HTML editor: An editor that includes web page or HTML-specific commands and buttons, such as BBEdit for the Mac. Pulled-down menus or buttons insert HTML tags. Help files may describe how to use the HTML tags but good knowledge of HTML is needed to make intelligent choices.

authoring tool: A fully-featured application or set of tools that presents a WYSIWYG editing environment which insulates the user from the HTML. Advanced scripts may be generated behind the scenes. Typically, these have a tightly integrated file management system that preserves site hyperlinks. FrontPage, for example, also includes a tiny server, an image editor, image mapping function, image animation software, etc.

image editor: When you need to change a graphic in a web page, you'll need an image editor. Such a tool allows you to crop, change colour or pixel depth, adjust interlacing and transparency, or, if nothing else, convert from a special format to GIF or JPEG. An editor is included with FrontPage 98 or 2000 for Windows. Third-party tools such as Paintshop Pro or GraphicConvertor are necessary when using only a text editor. Some people use PhotoShop.