NOTE: This article will probably interest only those newsletter readers who build web pages or want to do so. However, that includes me as I often build HTML web pages for this newsletter's web site. I have switched to a free, easy-to-use HTML editor, and thought I would share my experience with those of you who might be interested.It's not often that I stop using a $400 program and switch to a free program in its place. Yet, that's exactly what I have done in recent weeks.
I build several web pages for this newsletter each week in HTML format. My needs are simple, and I don't really need a sophisticated product. To create the web pages, all I need is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) product that allows me to enter text in a manner that is similar to typing in a word processor. Whatever product I use must then generate HTML pages.
In fact, there are dozens of such products available, and I have tried a number of them over the years. I found most of them lacking in something or other.
All I need is a simple product that generates good quality HTML. I used FrontPage on Windows but found it awkward to use. Even worse, if the page created with FrontPage is to be placed on a web site, all sorts of other files must be uploaded as well. The other files are known as "FrontPage Server extensions." Microsoft's new replacement product for FrontPage, called Expression Web, is even more awkward to use, in my opinion.
For a while, I tried to use Microsoft Word as the tool to create HTML pages. Word will save files in HTML format, but I found that it worked poorly. Word creates non-standard HTML. Even Microsoft's own Internet Explorer cannot display the pages properly if they were created with Word.
Many people told me to use Dreamweaver as it is "the best." While it is expensive ($400 and up), I found Dreamweaver CS3 to be powerful, and the learning curve wasn't too bad. I was able to get up to speed with Dreamweaver CS3 in only a few hours of use. Dreamweaver is a heavy-duty product with lots of options. I installed Dreamweaver CS3 on both my desktop and laptop computers, and I have since built many web pages using Dreamweaver CS3.
Time went by, and Adobe released a newer product called Dreamweaver CS4. I upgraded my desktop computer and found that I hated the new version. The CS4 version added significantly more "bloatware" – features and utilities that I didn't need and didn't want. Even worse, it became even more complex. It is also significantly slower. In the process of installing Dreamweaver CS4 on the desktop computer, the CS3 version had been uninstalled. I struggled with CS4; but, when traveling, I used the laptop's CS3 version. I soon realized that I much preferred the older CS3 version of Dreamweaver.
Now Adobe has released Dreamweaver CS5. I tried a demo copy and found that Adobe has added still more bloatware that I do not need or want to simply create an HTML page. Perhaps if I were a professional web designer with a need to perform sophisticated tasks, I would appreciate those extras. However, I am not a professional, do not need sophisticated features, and do not want to spend hours and hours learning how to use an HTML editor so that I can create a simple HTML page once in a while.
I decided to look elsewhere.
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