All good websites begin life as an idea in the mind of their creators. Getting those ideas out into the world requires the use of an HTML editor. Selecting the proper editor is not a decision to be taken lightly. The editor you begin with will influence you in many subtle ways. You will begin to develop habits around the specific eccentricities of your editor.
If you are to spend any amount of time building websites your HTML editor will be where you spend a significant amount of time. If it doesn’t meet your needs or causes you frustration you are going to be miserable.
I’ve used a plethora of HTML editors over the years. Most of their features are similar but they vary in terms of price, complexity and features. I currently opt for a rich feature set over any of the other options but your circumstance is unique to you. If you are just starting out a rich feature set may mean a more complicated tool that gets in your way of learning how to make a website. For you, a simpler tool may be the best bet.
This post reviews three of the most popular options for HTML Editors. There are others but these are cost effective and have a large enough community of users so that if you find yourself stuck help is not much more than a Google search away.
Notepad plus is a great basic option for web development. There’s no cost to get started. Simply download the installer, run it and you’re off.
When you start a new document it treats it as plain text. So until you save it as an HTML document you don’t get any highlighting to help you distinguish the elements you are developing.
Notepad++ also doesn’t have auto completion of elements out of the box. This may not seem like a big deal but once you get into the development of a fairly large sized website you will appreciate the value of not having to type all those closing quotes, braces and tags.
If you want a basic HTML Editor to get you started for free that doesn’t require configuration of a lot of options you could do far worse than Notepad++.
Complexity: Low to Medium
Editplus is a step up from the realm of free HTML Editors. It does offer a 30 day free trial but in order to continue using it beyond that point you will need to purchase a license. Currently a single user license costs $35. Given the features it provides this is a fairly reasonable price.
Configuration of Editplus is fairly simple as well. Simply install and click the button to create a new HTML file. You’ll get a basic template to build on with highlighting and auto completion of elements. If you ever go beyond HTML development Editplus will support that as well.
Editplus is a good option if you feel that you will eventually be doing more web development than simply learning the basics.
Eclipse, my HTML Editor of choice, is more than a simple HTML Editor. It supports true software development at an enterprise level. Not only can you develop websites with it but also mobile applications, business objects, desktop Java applications and much more.
That being said, Eclipse requires a fair bit of configuration to use. In addition, to make full use of all the features, you will need to devote some time to learning how to use them.
If you are looking for a tool to support you in a development career Eclipse is top notch. Invest the time to learn the tool and you will be pleased with how much you are capable of doing with it.
So… With all that in mind take some time to consider your situation and future needs. Evaluate your long term goals and select the right HTML Editor for you. Once you do you’re ready to dive into the next step of learning how to make a website.
Question: What are your needs in an HTML Editor? Feel free to use the comments below to discuss your choices and preferences.