Essentially, there are two ways you can put web pages
together. They can either be hand-coded, meaning that the writer/programmer
generator program of some sort is used, such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage. This latter
group, by the way, also includes all the "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You
Get) editors like Microsoft Word or Publisher along with the various "wizard"
type generators that generate a finished page based on a series of questions
(these are often "features" buried in other programs, though they can also be
To the true die-hard web coder, hand coding is the way to go. Others think
that modern tools present a more realistic method, especially for the newer web
developer. Whichever way you feel is right for you, there can be a lot of
satisfaction, not to mention insight, gained from hand coding at least a few web
pages. When you do, however, there’s no need to make life unduly tough on
The task of creating pages by hand coding can become quite complex. Hard core
hand-coders develop working techniques to assist them in this endeavor that frequently involve the use of advanced text editors.
If you’ve tried to use Notepad for this you’ll know that it requires remembering
the fine points of the syntax you need and having a very keen eye to spot those
typos. Today I thought I’d share with you a little about my own favorite text
editor, point you at a couple of others and give a couple of tips about text
editors in general.
My particular favorite editor comes from Ian Mead at IDM Computer Solutions.
inc. (see http://www.idmcomp.com ) and is known as UltraEdit. My good friend
Scott Clark, a very accomplished webmeister, favors Notetab Pro from Fookes
Software (see http://www.notetab.com ) These are
both terrific products and sold at bargain prices. Which one to choose is
strictly a matter of personal preference. I suggest you download and try out
both, then buy the one you favor.
What sets these, and similar, products apart for our purposes, is that they recognize web
programming language formats, syntax, tags, etc. and display code in a variety
of colors to depict the nature of the code elements. Simply stated, HTML code is
lists that enable you to select a tag by name and insert the code where you need
it. For example, if I look at the HTML tag list and select Table, I get
<TABLE></TABLE> inserted where my cursor was when I clicked. The list serves
also as a reminder or prompt of the tags that are available to you.
UltraEdit recognizes a lot of different programming languages and can easily be
extended to understand more. I find this to be an advantage as I use quite a
variety myself, but can continue to use the same tool. UltraEdit and Notetab
both have excellent global search and replace capabilities that con work on a
single or on multiple files. This is very convenient when you have to track down
all references to a URL which has just changed, for example.
There are many, many features in these programs — far too many for me to
mention here. We may add a software tools section to the HTML Goodies site soon.
When we do, that would be the place for a more comprehensive review.
Text Editors allow you to "Save As" using a variety of filename extensions.
While exact mechanisms vary from editor to editor, the basic principle is that
you choose File / Save As and type in a filename and extension or type the
filename and select the extension from a drop down list. Notepad assumes you
want to save a text file (filename.txt) unless you put double quotes around the
name ("filename.html") Recent versions of Notepad also allow you to Save As,
select All Files from the file type drop down and type in any extension you want
(without the double quotes.)
Also note that you can configure which text editors to use in your browser. In
the Internet Explorer (v 5 or 6) you go to Tools / Internet Options / Programs
and select which program you want to use for an editor. The same applies to
FrontPage (Tools / Options / Configure Editors) and most site management
A good text editor will save you a great deal of time and heartache!