Every Web designer and coder needs a Web page editor to create and edit HTML, CSS and JavaScript code. There are hundreds of excellent editors to choose from — many of them paid — but what if you're a coder on a budget?
I've left out template-based page design apps that generate HTML, rather than letting you edit existing HTML pages. So without further ado, let's take a look at 10 of the best free Web page editors out there today!
KompoZer supports pretty much every single HTML element, including images, tables, and forms.
Unlike many other WYSIWYG editors, KompoZer does a pretty good job of keeping your markup as clean as possible. Komodo Edit is an open-source programmer's editor based on the commercial Komodo IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Although it's a general-purpose editor, it does support HTML and CSS pretty well, with context-aware auto-complete for HTML tags and CSS properties, as well as a collection of snippets for various HTML elements. Komodo Edit lets you preview your pages in any installed browser, or use the built-in browser in a split view so you can edit and preview at the same time.
The editor has a built-in file upload feature (FTP, FTPS, SFTP, or SCP) for uploading your site files, and you can keep all your files nicely grouped with the project management features. Aptana Studio is a fully-fledged Web development environment, and is particularly suited to Ajax development. The Aptana editor handles HTML and CSS really well: it auto-completes both CSS and HTML, and has nice syntax highlighting.
Aptana provides a nice project management system to keep all your files together, and supports uploading via FTP, SFTP and FTPS.
On the downside, Aptana is very much a high-end application, and the huge number of preferences, plugins and configuration options can be intimidating for the beginner.
Notepad++ is a solid, open source code editor, and a good replacement for the built-in Windows Notepad. The find and replace options are comprehensive, including support for regular expression searches and searching in multiple files. Notepad++ also has a plugin system, allowing you to extend the editor with additional features such as FTP uploading. TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software is very much a general-purpose text editor, so it doesn't have much in the way of Web-specific features, and there's no auto-completion.
In essence, TextWrangler is great if you want a no-nonsense editor that doesn't get in the way while you edit your Web pages.
If you're prepared to shell out a small amount of cash for your editor, check out TextWrangler's big brother, BBEdit.
Vim certainly has a steep learning curve, but once you're proficient at it you'll never look back!


In many ways the granddaddy of programmer's text editors, Vim (along with its ancestor, vi) is a terminal-based open-source text editor. There are various Vim macros and plugins available to help with HTML, CSS and JavaScript coding, including syntax highlighting, auto-completion, HTML Tidy, and in-browser previewing. If you just can't get on with an editor that runs in a terminal window, Vim has a graphical counterpart called gvim, complete with more user-friendly windows and menus.
The nice thing about gedit is that it has an uncluttered interface and is easy to use, yet you can choose from a huge range of plugins to customize it as you need. Like TextWrangler and gedit, Fraise is a nice lightweight text editor that's pleasant to use. A handy built-in browser preview (using WebKit), with a very useful Live Update option that updates as you edit your markup and CSS. Some useful text-manipulation commands such as HTML validation and converting characters to HTML entities.
Fraise is worth a look if you use a Mac, and you're after a user-friendly editor that's more capable than the built-in TextEdit.
I think Nedit is a pretty good editor for the Unix world, especially for those coming from the Windows world. Notepad (Windows) and TextEdit (Mac) are fine when you're starting out, but you'll soon want to graduate to something a bit more substantial. These are graphical editors that let you lay out and style your page visually, like using a word processor. These let you work directly with HTML and CSS code, giving you the most flexibility with your designs. There's also a nice built-in CSS editor for editing your style sheets, a Site Manager for keeping track of all your site files, and a Publish feature for uploading the site via FTP. It's not as nice-looking as commercial editors such as Dreamweaver, but it's easy enough to use, and if you want to do some visual editing on a budget then it's a great choice. It's highly extendible thanks to the use of a Firefox-like extension system, and lots of useful add-ons are available. To really get the most out of Komodo, though, I recommend installing the HTML Toolkit extension, which has some lovely features like closing tag auto-complete, CSS image preview, and instant Lorem Ipsum generation with a few keystrokes. This selects the current major block of HTML, such as the current enclosing div or ul element. Sometimes all this power can be a bit overwhelming if you just want to hack together some HTML. Out of the box, it lets you edit HTML, CSS and JavaScript files, and many more Web programming languages are supported via plugins. In fact the HTML auto-completion is about as good as it gets with a free editor: it auto-closes HTML tags, and provides instant pop-up syntax help for things like CSS properties. It supports tabbed windows, HTML and CSS syntax highlighting, code folding, and auto-completion.


However, to get the most of jEdit as a Web coder, install the XML plugin (you can easily do this by choosing Plugins > Plugin Manager, then clicking the Install tab and selecting the XML plugin). Despite that, it's quick and easy to use, and I find myself using it for a lot of lightweight HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP editing. This full-featured editor gives you auto-completion, HTML and CSS syntax checking, built-in HTML Tidy, and lots more. It also runs perfectly happily on Windows and Mac OS X, and downloads for all systems are available from the homepage. If you'd like to explore even more editors, Wikipedia has comparisons of HTML editors as well as general text editors. They can be a handy way to build a design quickly although, as every pro Web designer knows, you nearly always need to tweak the code yourself for best results.
While these apps can be great if you don't want to mess with HTML and CSS, they are not Web page editors in the traditional sense (and they're mostly commercial too), so I've excluded them from this article. Fortunately the editor has a good, searchable help system which makes it easy to discover its wealth of features. On the downside, the interface is a bit clunky, with non-standard widgets, dialogs and keyboard shortcuts. This plugin gives you auto-completion for HTML and CSS, a document tree browser, code beautification, and more. It also has 3 editing modes: an insert mode where you type your text, a visual mode for selecting text, and a command mode where you enter commands. With a few keystrokes, you can do things in a few seconds that would take minutes with other editors. Others are geared more towards Web languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP, and have built-in shortcuts for quickly typing HTML tags, CSS properties, and so on.
However, if you can get round the drawbacks then jEdit is a nice editor with a lot of power up its sleeves. This is all due to vim's Unix heritage, from the days when there were no such things as windows and mice. Very similar in appearance to Aptana, but not based on Eclipse - so it's very stable and fast.
The only drawback for Netbeans (and also Aptana) is that neither has a Word Wrap function for code.



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