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Creating a Website: The Missing Manual, 4th Edition by Matthew MacDonald

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Chapter 5. Working with a Web Editor

In Chapter 1, you built your first HTML page with nothing but a text editor and a lot of nerve—the same way all web page whiz kids begin their careers. To really understand HTML (and to establish your HTML street cred), you need to start from scratch.

However, very few web authors stick with plain-text editors or use them to create anything other than simple test pages. The average HTML page is filled with tedious detail. Try to write every paragraph, line break, and formatting tag by hand, and you’ll probably make a mistake somewhere along the way. Even if you don’t, it’s hard to visualize a finished page when you spend all day staring at angle brackets. This is especially true when you tackle more complex pages, like those with graphics or multicolumn layouts.

The downside to outgrowing Notepad or TextEdit is the expense. Professional web design tools can cost hundreds of dollars. At one point, software companies planned to include basic web editors as part of operating systems like Windows and Mac OS. In fact, some older versions of Windows shipped with a scaled-down web editor called FrontPage Express (and some old Macs included a severely truncated editor called iWeb). But if you want a full-featured web page editor—one that catches your errors, helps you remember important HTML elements, and lets you manage your entire site—you have to find one on your own. Fortunately, there are free alternatives for even the most cash-strapped web weaver. ...

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