Programming Tools: HTML WYSIWYG Editors
Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its original publication.
I have a dirty little secret. When I started to build my first Web site a few years back, I used Microsoft's FrontPage. The main reason I chose to use FrontPage was its WYSIWYG facility. It made creating tables, changing the look of the text, renaming HTML pages and many other tasks a snap. For the professionals among you, this may be heresy, but after cleaning up the generated code, I had a useful site. For a number of years, I have been looking for equivalent Linux products. The wait may be almost over.
Although nothing yet approaches FrontPage's ease-of-use, we now have a number of products that are truly WYSIWYG editors. They may grow into something much more.
From the set of Linux HTML editors now available, the most advanced seems to be NVu (New View). NVu offers users the ability to:
Import complete sites.
Publish the current set of Web pages to the Web.
Export pages as ASCII text.
Spell check pages.
View pages in normal, tagged HTML, full HTML and preview modes.
Set a wide variety of encodings, including None, Unicode (UTF-8) and Western (ISO-8859-1).
Create tables easily.
Create forms easily.
Insert special symbols visually, quickly.
Insert a table of contents based on text styles.
Insert custom PHP code or comments.
Write in a left-to-right or right-to-left direction, for those using Hebrew or Arabic.
In Figure 4, I used the CSS editor to display part of the style sheet for the www.python.org site.
Figure 6 shows the clean HTML that NVu produces for the simple table example depicted in Figure 5.
There is a caveat to the code in Figure 6, however. By default, NVu generates files with an xhtml extension. The extension tells browsers to use strict HTML scanning rules when processing the file. Under these rules, the clause http-equiv="content-type" in line 5 causes an error in some browsers, particularly Firefox. There are two workarounds. Option one is to delete the offending clause. Option two is to rename the file so it has an .html non-strict extension. That is, a.xhtml becomes a.html .
In trying to resolve this extension problem, I used the excellent open-source Web editor, Quanta Plus. It gave me a second opinion. Although it is not a WYSIWYG editor in the same sense as NVu is, Quanta Plus has many useful features and is worth keeping handy.
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