InfoCynic (infocynic) wrote in wwwstandards,

The quest for a decent free HTML editor

I teach a very basic (101 level for non-Engineering majors) college course that, among other things, covers basic web page creation. I insist on students learning basic HTML (html, head, title, body, p, a, strong, em) and we use Notepad for this (I should actually get the campus IT group to install something better like Notepad+ but that's another topic). From there we move to a WYSIWYG editor... (these are not programmers, trying to get them to spend 3 class days in HTML would be worse than torture, but having easy access to the source code via another tab/window is a great feature we can use to say "look at the source code, find the tag that's controlling that").

We used to use Mozilla Composer back when Mozilla was actually good and Firefox didn't exist, then we switched to Nvu when Mozilla mostly died. Anyone who's actually used Nvu knows it's not very good, and it has a horrible habit of mangling source HTML. Sadly, it seems to be about the best free web WYSIWYG editor that has a relatively "normal" interface. We looked at the W3C's Amaya, but decided the interface was too busy and complex for mere mortals (aka students).

Requirements: must produce valid HTML 4.01 or XHTML 1/1.1 ... Strict is preferred but we're not going to nitpick too badly--we emphasize using CSS for formatting anyway. Tags and attributes in lowercase is important, though, because about 25% of the students will spend a month at the end of the semester learning more advanced web design where we really push validation as a way to help debug page issues. WYSIWYG and a "Word-like" interface are musts. Easy access to HTML source code is preferred, with syntax highlighting also preferred. Lack of source mangling is also preferred but if it's minor or unusual I think we could live with it (subject to not changing cases, etc.). Most importantly, we'd want this to be free, so that students with their own computers would have the opportunity to use it at home. Free for academic use is fine. Oh, and yeah, it needs to run on Windows. :)

Anybody got any recommendations?
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