Choosing Between HTML-Kit 5.1 and HTML-Kit Tools
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After almost a decade and millions of downloads, HTML-Kit continues to be a favorite freeware HTML editor of web developers everywhere. Some of its recommendation-worthy points include support for multiple file types and standards, internal and external live preview modes, and the availability of hundreds of free add-ins through its open plugins site.
In late 2006, the makers of HTML-Kit, Chami, released the $79 USD HTML-Kit Tools which contains advanced functionality for more professional level developers. Since the free HTML-Kit continues to be available from their site, it raises the question of whether or not the HTML-Kit Tools is worth the extra cash. After all, we are comparing a free product with an eighty dollar one (actually on sale for $59.00 USD right now). That is the question that we shall attempt to answer here today. We'll be looking at HTML-Kit 5.1 - also known as HTML-Kit 292 (for the build number), and HTML-Kit Tools Version 20111005.
Two Kinds of HTML Editors
There are basically two types of HTML Editors: WYSIWYG and text-based. WYSIWYG editors have an interface which allows users to drag and drop elements on the screen and to visually arrange the positioning of document elements. These include the Frontpage and DreamWeaver juggernauts. An important distinction of this UI is that the code is hidden from the user, unless he or she chooses to display it. On the other hand, text-based editors are more targeted towards those who would rather hand code their websites.
Proponents of text-based editors assert that WYSIWYG editors are more suitable for beginners and may stunt one's ability to learn how to code as it does everything for you. By the same token, I suppose that Java programmers should ditch their Eclipse IDEs and go back to Notepad? But I digress. Both flavors of HTML Kit are text-based editors for those who prefer to hand code their Web components. Nonetheless, both products contain numerous features to make your job of hand coding a lot easier.
Comparing the look and feel of both applications, it quickly becomes apparent that they are fairly dissimilar in appearance:
HTML-Kit 292 uses a combination of toolbars and tabs to get at all of the commands while HTML-Kit Tools utilizes windows-style ribbons to achieve a less cluttered look. Moreover, the latter boasts bigger and bolder icons. In fact, the whole application looks a little bolder and brighter to me.
Comparing Similar Functionality
Obviously, there are a lot of basic tasks that can be accomplished in either editor, for instance, inserting tags. Both editors have code assist so that you don't have to type both the openings and closing tags in full:
Now let me make a confession. I have been using HTML-Kit 292 to write my articles and proof of concept pages for some time now. Coming from DreamWeaver, there was a learning curve, but one that paid off in the end. There are a few features that I've come to know and love. One that I really like is the tag dropdown. You can even have them inserted around selected text. I often use that for enclosing code snippets in <PRE> tags. It gets better.
There are text conversion tools to convert HTML tags into their equivalent code representations, e.g., < and > to < and >, which I use for HTML markup examples. Believe me when I say that that's just the tip of the iceberg. I am continuously learning about new tools and capabilities. But don't get me wrong. There are some obvious features lacking, such as a wizard for creating tables. There are commands for creating a basic table, but that's about all. Here is the most elaborate one I was able to create with one command:
<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" summary=""> <tr><td></td></tr> </table>
Meanwhile, the more full-featured HTML Kit Tools has several wizards, including one for tables:
Above and Beyond
There are many additional features in HTML-Kit Tools that are not available in the free HTML-Kit 292, such as:
- facilities to manage your projects with virtual and remote/FTP folders
- an HTML Tidy interface that can highlight suggested code improvements
- document structure and functions views for HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS and scripts
- the ability to take HTML-Kit Tools, settings, templates and plugins in portable USB devices
- an enhanced editor with extras such as code-folding
- file versioning and backup
- an enhanced image picker tool
- support for editor colorizer styles
- global search and replace in multiple files
- preview on an iPad
Whenever I am deciding between two products of different prices I like to ask myself whether or not the more expensive item is worth the extra cost. This works well in most applications, including for computers, clothes, cars, and even food! At a cost of only $79 USD, I believe that the HTML-Kit Tools is indeed worth the price. However, the free HTML-Kit is such an outstanding editor on its own that you have to wonder why you need something better.
To me the most distinguishing feature of HTML-Kit Tools is the ability to manage your projects and server applications. For that reason, I would recommend it as the better choice of Enterprise level Web development, although in that arena, you've got more heavy duty IDEs to contend with such as Eclipse and IBM's Rational Software Architect (RSA). My advice is to start with the free HTML-Kit as I did, get your feet wet and see how you like it. From there, you can evaluate HTML-Kit Tools by downloading the 30 day free trial from the Chami website. After that, you'll be in a much better position to make the right choice for you.
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