Creating web pages used to be the domain of geeky designers; those who knew the tricks of HTML, XHTML, CSS and how to make a page look good on any browser. Here’s a battle between a Free Editor, a Great Editor, and a Strange Editor.
There’s no shortage of web page development tools on the Mac. For web site developers with money and large web projects, there’s Adobe’s monstrous Go Live, and the effective but complex Dreamweaver from Macromedia.
In between using TextEdit (free with your Mac), there’s more web page development tools than you could imagine. Here’s the tale of a Free Web Page Editor, a Great Web Page Editor, one of the oddest Web Page Editors, I’ve ever seen, and a quick review of all the others (except those not on the list).
FREE – Nvu
Taking a page from Mozilla’s free web page editor component, Nvu works on Mac, Windows and Linux. If you’ve used and like creating web pages in Mozilla, then you’ll love Nvu.
It’s WYSIWYG so you can just type what you want, drop in various elements such as tables and graphics, and click to make links. Tabs make it easy to edit multiple pages but you’re on your own for organizing the pages.
There’s also an integrated file management via FTP so you can upload your files to a web server and edit on the fly.
The HTML code, on the other hand, is up to you. You can tweak HTML code and edit by hand but there’s no guarantee that what you end up with will be XHTML or CSS standards compliant.
Regardless, pages generated with Nvu will look decent, develop quickly, and not cost much. Nvu is open source and free.
The latest version of Nvu is more stable, very attractive, and competent. If you’re on a budget and need an editor at low cost, free is about as low cost as you can get.
Don’t expect Nvu to replace Dreamweaver, Go Live, or other web page editors with advanced features and standards compliance. Nvu works.
Even better would be a web page editor that’s easier to use, creates even more complex pages, handles standards such as XHTML, CSS, and RSS, and is still affordable.
GREAT – Rapidweaver
The web site you’re reading was produced using mockups from Rapidweaver. The XHTML, CSS, and RSS code was produced meticulously, laboriously, and painfully—by hand.
That’s because the site is dynamically generated by mixing hand-built templates with PHP, a MySQL database, and a banner ad server.
Rapidweaver takes all the complexity of making a standards-based web site, complete with XHTML, CSS, and RSS feeds, and makes it point and click.
Basic pages such as web logs, contact forms, file sharing, standard HTML pages, a movie album or photo album, or other pages are a breeze in Rapidweaver.
Don’t worry about creating code that’s compliant with XHTML, CSS, or RSS standards. Rapidweaver has that built-in. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. Martha Stewart called and said, “It’s a good thing.”
The Rapidweaver QuickStart Tour shows you how to create a page, add sub-pages, choose a Theme, and publish.
You start a web site with a Theme. Over 30 themes are included in Rapidweaver and more are available at very low cost.
Choose a Theme. Don’t worry about the design because you can always change Themes in mid-development.
Then choose Add New Page. Here you’ll be prompted for the type of page. Web log, contact form, file sharing, basic HTML code (you can edit), an iFrame page (embed another page or element in your page), a Movie album, a Photo album, a page for QuickTIme, and a Style Text page.
“Don’t worry about creating code that’s compliant with XHTML, CSS, or RSS standards. Rapidweaver has that built-in.”The web log page supports RSS 2.0 automatically. The contact form requires PHP to be installed on your web server (most web hosts can handle this).
Even links to other pages (yours or another site) are simple clicks. The Styled Text page is pure WYSIWYG, just like working in a word processor.
Let’s say you’re creating a web log (it’s all the rage these days). You’ll be prompted for Comments section, Archive, a Date Format, and the RSS Feed. It’s difficult to be any simpler.
In true Mac fashion, simply click the Add To “+” sign, enter a headline Title, a date, and your entry (the article). Do it again for different days and entries (pages). Save and you’re done.
You can Export the whole site for manual FTP upload, or Publish automatically, to either .Mac or a web host.
Your web pages will look great, and are XHTML and CSS compliant. It’s difficult to imagine how you could produce better looking web pages more quickly than with Rapidweaver.
$35 is a remarkably low price for an application that takes relatively complex tasks and makes them very easy to use.
If Nvu gets 4 Stars, then Rapidweaver is a solid contender for 5 Stars.
STRANGE – GoodPage
I’m always looking for ways to make web pages faster, easier, better. Rapidweaver does a great job of doing just that, though more complex pages, dynamic pages, require more effort.
A new web page editor hit the streets recently. It’s called GoodPage and it may be the single most interesting web page, web site development application I’ve run into since early versions of Adobe’s GoLive.
GoodPage changes the paradigm of web page development. Yes, there’s the standard Code and Browser components (as in Nvu), and one called Structure, which aims to provide a graphic view of the structure of a page and web site.
GoodPage shows multiple views of a web page at the same time (I like that). The Structure view even allows WYSIWYG editing.
Style management is handled with a built-in CSS editor, so you can see style changes on the fly.
“The interface is the oddest you’re going to find anywhere. GoodPage has a completely different view of how to develop a web page.”As you’d expect with a web page development system, there’s site management via FTP, SFTP and .Mac. There’s even a function that displays the differences between your local development pages and the remote (live) web site.
Concerned about XHTML and CSS validation? It’s built in. There’s even a component that tests server side scripts such as PHP and HTML forms.
Curious about how GoodPage’s pages will look in your browser? Don’t worry. GoodPage uses the same display engine as Safari.
All this sounds just great, right? So what’s wrong with GoodPage?
First, it’s $149, which is considerably more than most web page development applications cost (many of which have many more features). Oh, there’s a $99 “early adopter” offer in effect now.
Second, the interface is the oddest you’re going to find anywhere. GoodPage has a completely different view of how to develop a web page, so you’ll have to get used to that before you become productive.
There’s the standard “live” view of the XHTML code, a “live” view of the finished page. However, editing the code in a drawer doesn’t immediately change the code in the web page. That takes a few extra clicks.
Toggle between XHTML code, “live” web page view, and “Structure.”
Structure is reminiscent of views in Adobe GoLive and Dreamweaver but with a unique approach, as CSS style components are blended in. It takes getting used to.
What I like is the ability to bounce between a web page/site’s development components; what the site looks like, the actual code, the structure, and the CSS.
Still, there’s not as much simplicity built in to the CSS component as I’d like (which is why I still use StyleMaster).
SUMMARY – One Free, One Great, One Strange (try it anyway).
It’s tough to beat the Free price tag of Nvu, though there are limitations in what types of web pages and page components you can build (and how quickly). Click Here to view the feature set for Nvu.
Rapidweaver is the clear winner here as it does so much, so quickly, and remains standards compliant. It’s the ultimate in point and click web page development goodness. Click Here for a look at Rapidweaver 3.1’s new features and download the demo version.
GoodPage isn’t good yet, but shows promise for a 1.x version. There’s lots of capability but you have to dig to find it. Click Here for all the good details and the demo version.
Continued from Page 1…
Web Page Editors: The Rest of the Rest
What’s left? It’s a huge list and growing. Here’s a quick analysis of the more notable of what you need to build a web page.
It’s huge and complex. Handles large sites with many pages. Did I mention it’s expensive? Click Here for details, features, and demo.
More huge and more complex with that “odd” way of doing things that Adobe seems to love. Oh, it’s expensive. Click Here for details, features, and demo.
It’s the “editors” editor.Use it for programming, for web sites, but not for letters to grandma. We use BBEdit and love everything except the expense. Click Here for details, features, and demo.
Not updated since last summer. Less than 3 Stars at MacUpdate. Why bother? Click Here for details, features, and demo.
Excellent, low cost CSS editor. A favorite, though not as good as StyleMaster. With a name like “MacRabbit” it’s got to be good software. Click Here for details, features, and demo.
The best CSS editor on Mac or Windows, for Mac and Windows. Wizards alone are worth the price of admission. Click Here for details, features, and demo.
Freeway Pro and Freeway Express
Sigh. I want to like these applications. I do. The code is just sooooo messy. Click Here for details, features, and demo.
The rest of the rest.
Not updated in nearly a year. Less than 3 Stars.
Very good. Complex. Many handy tools. Low price.
Taco HTML Edit
Excellent. Free. Simple. You need to know HTML.
XHTML, CSS, and more. Odd setup.
XHTML and more.
Your mileage may vary. Got a favorite that I missed? Share your experience with other readers. Click on the Comments link below.