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What software do you need for web design?

A simple text editor like notepad will do, however you would be better off using a more advanced editor that colour codes your syntax, it makes it much more obvious when you have made a mistake. There are some free (WYSIWYG) editors available such as:

If you use a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor, you will have the ability to build pages without writing any code by hand, fantastic!! Well not necessarily:

  • You will not learn
  • WYSIWYG editors often add unwanted code
  • WYSIWYG do not render CSS layouts very well

If you use an editor like NVU, use it in code view and only use the GUI (Graphical User Interface) when you don’t know how to do something, then immediately switch back to the code view and see what the editor has done.

In short LEARN THE CODE, if you don’t learn the code you will never move beyond “beginner status”.

Starting with WYSISYG editors can be a good way to learn as you don’t have to keep referring to tutorials, just don’t get lazy and rely too heavily on the GUI.

Finally, the real bugbear of web design, different browsers work in different ways. You can spend a long time designing a page and have it all looking nice it all perfect in Internet Explorer only to find it doesn’t work properly in Mozilla Firefox.

You need to test in these two browsers (as an absolute minimum, there are many others) as you go along, making sure they work in both browsers.

If you download firefox it is also worth installing the “Web Developer Toolbar” plug in, along with this Alexa Plug In

Validating your XHTML is a massive help in getting your site working in all browsers.

And finally, for those who read all the way down this post, my favorite link of all The Peoples Toolbox contains literally hundreds of Free Web Design Tools, fantastic!

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    7 Comments

    Comment by Jon Lee

    You should check out Aptana. Known as the “cross platform open source dreamweaver killer”.
    There is no WYSIWYG but the coding features do indeed rival that of Dreamweaver!

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    Im learning a lot tonight, thanks for all the tips. Had a quick look at that, do you have to run it in Eclipse?

    I know Im a fool to myself but I never really liked Eclipse and prefer lighter apps.

    I tend to use screem nice and simple, doesn’t slow you down.

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    Comment by David Hopkins

    Jon is right, Dreamweaver has some useful features, but most good developers won’t use it because of the stigma that Dreamweaver is the devil.

    I started my web design days using the undisputed king, Front Page Express, which I created my first site with. It gained 150,000 hits in 6 months on a free .com domain name that came bundeled with a big banner across the bottom. The site was in frames; I used Paint Shop Pro to do the graphics. It also had a lot a Java (not JavaScript) that was generated with a program called Anfry.

    After that, I moved over to Dreamweaver, but never actually launched anymore sites.

    When I started to get serious about making web sites I started using Abode GoLive, which has some excellent code editing features.

    After a brief affair with Zend Studio, I returned to Adobe GoLive, which I was becoming increasingly frustrated with due to its lack of tabs.

    I briefly used Eclipse, but like yourself discarded it because it is bulky and has horrible font rendering and UI.

    Now I am using a lightweight editor called jEdit. It has a good UI with a lot of customisation options. You can easily download plugins direct from the app from sourceforge. Other than that its just like Notepad with syntax highlighting.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    If DW is the devil then what does that make front page… that was a truly nasty app.

    Dreamweaver’s synchronize feature is good, and I quite like the interface, but I always found FTP unreliable, also it costs too expensive for what it is…. I used it a lot for JSP… but the logic was in compiled classes (done in a different program), so there was little programming to be done in DW.

    I still havent tried jEdit… will have to give it a go… I only really use php edit now… it has some really nice features, like being able to add watches and break points to your code… not many editors offer that for PHP.

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    Comment by David Hopkins

    Do you by any chance know any ediors that have a comment hiding facily?

    When I am working with code I know well I don’t like to have it with comments, but when I am working on old code I like to have them to refresh the memory banks.

    You would probably be able to write such a plugin for jEdit, as it is Java and seems to have a good plugin system.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    No I have not, thats an interesting feature.. I have never seen anything like that but its a good idea.

    I wouldnt have thought it would be that difficult… I imagine the comments are greyed out anyway, I would imagine you could add a switch to the code that does that formatting to hide it instead of turning it grey…. once you have trawled the source….

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    Comment by Florchakh

    WYSIWTF – What You See Is What The Fuck :wink:

    I’m still having fun with standard notepad and FF extension Firebug, it’s enough for most of my HTML/CSS writings…

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