web page editing tools compared

List assembled by Blake Nancarrow (blaken@computer-ease.com) of Computer Ease for the Computer Trainers Network (CTN) on 04 May 2000.

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


XXX You're on your own if you write in a text editor. You'll need an intimate knowledge of HTML tags, JavaScript code, its syntax, and its limitations to work up nice pages and working sites. You'll need to experiment a great deal to understand combinations, subtleties.

HTML editors require some knowledge of HTML, perhaps a very high understanding. For example, some editors simply list the HTML tags with a cryptic or minimal explanation, leaving you to choose the relevant code.

Authoring tools attempt to create an environment, often WYSIWYG, where you need little or no knowledge of HTML. For example, you highlight text in Dreamweaver's Document Editor, click the Bold button, and quietly behind the scenes, Dreamweaver generates <STRONG> and </STRONG> tags in an HTML file. Where this is most useful (and quick) is when using complex layout with tables and graphics.

While this seems ideal, there are times when FrontPage or Dreamweaver seem cryptic and technical, using arcane terminology. Without a partial knowledge of HTML, the purpose of a program feature may not be obvious or clear.

Also, there are times when an editor or authoring environment doesn't use a HTML tag or feature that could save you time and effort. If you know the HTML necessary, you can add or use or edit it directly.

Finally, editors and author tools are sometimes wrong! See "quality" below.