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Review of free HTML editors

By Murray Bourne, 29 Jul 2006

In the comparison review below:
Front Page Express
Before using any of these editors, check them carefully for viruses and spyware.

PageBreeze HTML Editor

The free version of PageBreeze HTML Editor is a simple WYSIWYG editor. It has the usual icons for bold, italic, underline, numbered lists, bullet lists and so on.



There are 4 tabbed areas for editing and viewing your HTML masterpieces:

  1. Normal - for basic WYSIWYG editing
  2. Page Properties - for changing page title and inserting Keywords and Description meta tags. There is also a small text editing area for editing the CSS stylesheet
  3. HTML source - for seeing and editing the HTML coding behind the page (this is handy when the WYSIWYG editor does not give you what you want)
  4. Internet Explorer preview

On the left is a handy Explorer-like "Files" tab:
In the "Form Builder" tab are drag and drop icons for Text box, Radio button, etc. There's even a form validation option which creates javascript validation code.

Conclusion: This editor is only so-so. Things I don't like are:

  • The code that is created is sometimes deprecated (like the <font> tag in the following example):
<blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px">
  <p><font color="#008080" face=Verdana>My text</font></p>
  • The CSS editor is small and inconvenient - and rather confusing
  • Why only Internet Explorer preview? Any serious developer will need to preview in Firefox, Opera, Netscape and other browsers.
  • Sometimes surprising things happen, like you enter some text and go to view the HTML source and all your text disappears (I think this is because you can save any HTML as a template and it must be stripping off the content for this purpose. Pretty irritating, though. It happened to me several times.)

Enough - it's not my favourite editor, but it is free...

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Frontpage Express


I have used Frontpage Express since it first appeared as a freebie on the Windows 98 CD.

Frontpage Express is a simple WYSIWYG editor and it gives clean, tidy HTML. The interface is similar to PageBreeze (bold, italic, dot points, etc) but to view the generated HTML code, you have to open a dialog box, which is not so convenient.

Being an old editor, it does not recognise CSS or <div> tags. In fact, it will strip out tags it doesn't recognise. Like PageBreeze, it produces a lot of deprecated code (not surprising, given its age). But for a quick and easy way to do text, images, tables and simple formatting, it is just fine.


PSPad is a sophisticated text editor, but it does not have WYSIWYG capabilities. I use it more than any other editor, because I can edit a large range of things:

  • text
  • HTML
  • PHP
  • javascript
  • perl about 10 other things I don't use yet.

PSPad has many coding aids, like colour coding of tags, HTML Tidy (which cleans up your code), auto-completion of tags (which I always disable because it's not the way I work), good search and replace functionality, a text comparison feature and an Explorer-like file finder similar to PageBreeze. You can remove all HTML tags to produce a text-only file.

PSPad has an in-built FTP facility which makes uploading files to your server very convenient.

Overall, PSPad is my favourite editor. While it is not WYSIWYG, it has so many other powerful features that I find myself using it all the time.

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Nvu is open source and is standards-compliant. That's great, but I rarely use it because I find the algorithms used for producing CSS-based HTML are odd.

For example, the blockquote icon does not give blockquote - it gives a paragraph that has a left margin of 30px. This is not convenient for styling purposes.

Also, a hard carriage return gives <br> tag, not a new <p> as expected.

Nvu is certainly worth a try, but it's not my favourite.

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See the 10 Comments below.

Leave a comment

Comment Preview

HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
    `a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)`
    (See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
  2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with \( and \).
    \( \int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}} \)
    (This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.


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