Best Free HTML Editor

 
Introduction

HTML text editors are fine for programmers or those who are comfortable coding (X)HTML, PHP and CSS, but many users have no interest in this. They just want an editor that allows them to produce web pages quickly in a WYSIWYG environment.

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Discussion

Whether code-based or WYSIWYG, the ideal HTML editor should be able to validate that the HTML is standards-compliant, preview the page in different browsers, support meta-tags and provide basic image editing, while still being free. An included FTP client is a bonus.

HTML WYSIWYG Editors

KompoZerOne of the best free editors is KompoZer, our top recommendation for newbies. It's designed for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive web site without needing to know HTML.  Features include integrated file management (upload to and edit files on a web server), tabbed editing (allowing work on multiple pages), and support for forms, tables and templates.

KompoZer's last stable release was in 2007, and the last Beta (development version) was released in February 2010.

Worth watching is BlueGriffon, which is a fork of KompoZer, currently under active development and looking very promising.

 

AmayaAnother good editor is Amaya. It's a project from the The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and so shines in the area of standards compliance and accessibility.

Amaya lets users both browse and author web pages, which enables easy copying and pasting of information from other web pages and easy creation of links to other websites.  You can seamlessly upload your web pages onto a server from within Amaya as well.

HTML Text Editors

My top choice for experienced users goes to Netbeans. It started life as a Java Editor but with recent releases has developed into a powerful text editor for web scripting. It is Vista and Windows 7 compatible.

At first glance, Netbeans is a little intimidating. Most of the menu items can be ignored by ordinary mortals. Using it as an HTML/PHP editor is akin to using a steam hammer to crack a peanut. Nevertheless the code completion, code colouring and the professional look and feel make it an excellent choice.

Netbeans supports: HTML and XHTML, CSS, PHP (Version 6.5 and later), Java SE, JavaFX, Web & Java EE, Java ME, Ruby, C/C++ and more.

 

HTML-KitMy second choice is HTML-Kit which began as a specialized html editor but now has so many plugins that it is a highly customizable and extensible development environment. The latest freeware release is build 292, and plug-ins continue to be developed and extended, keeping this software very up to date. HTML-Kit is compatible with Vista and is also portable.

HTML-Kit offers support for HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, XSL, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, PHP, JSP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java, VB, C/C++, .NET C#, Delphi / Pascal, Lisp, SQL, and more.

Over the years, both Netbeans and HTML-Kit have attracted large communities, so the support forums are very good. Their websites are full of video tutorials and resources.

Both Netbeans and HTML-Kit are excellent choices for serious coders, offering support for many file types including HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS, XSL, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, PHP, JSP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java, VB, C/C++, .NET C#, Delphi / Pascal, Lisp, SQL, and more.

 

AptanaAptana Studio, which is based on the well-known, open-source Eclipse IDE that is popular among Java developers, focuses on modern web 2.0 development techniques.

It features optimizations for Javascript, HTML, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, PHP, CSS and many others.

Aptana Studio plugins enable source control and over 1,000 other third-party extensions.

There is a pro version (which includes a few other features), but the free version is more then enough for any web developer (from beginner to advance). I personally love Aptana studio, and recommend it to any developer wanting a full featured IDE for building websites, web applications, desktop applications (with the adobe air plugin), etc.

 

PSPadFinally, for advanced users who work in various programming environments, there is PSPad. It's a general-purpose programming editor with html syntax highlighting.

This small tool has simple controls and handles plain text, yet is extremely capable.  Saying you use PSPad for your coding scores you immediate points for technical machismo.

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

KompoZer
4.5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
http://kompozer.net
0.7.10
7.6 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows All, Mac OSX, Linux
Amaya
4
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Standards compliance and accessibility
Some features are very complex for beginners. WYSIWYG rendering is not very good. Doesn't recognize PHP pages.
http://www.w3.org/Amaya/
11.4.7
13.88 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows All, Mac, Linux

v11.4.7 released 18 April, 2013
View the release history here

From the developers website:
"Snapshot 11.4.7 - Security fix (18 April 2013)

This snapshot contains a security fix for a problem with the libwww as, in some cases, user password could be sent in the clear through https.
This problem concerns only people who use the PUT capability of Amaya over SSL."
It is available from the download link above.

 
Editor

This software category is in need of an editor. If you are interested in taking it over then check out this page for more details. You can then contact us from that page or by clicking here.

 
Tags

edit html, edit html files, edit html text, edit text wysiwyg mode, best free html text editor, top html editor, top free html editor, edit html what you see is what you get, freeware.

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Comments

by James11 (not verified) on 3. March 2011 - 16:20  (67384)

I wonder if the Blue Griffon is worthy of the WYSIWYG editor category.
http://www.bluegriffon.org/
From the author of NVU that later evolved into Kompozer.

by mistywindow on 29. March 2011 - 3:59  (68735)

Thanks for that James, I've had a good look at Bluegriffon and you can wonder no more. It is most certainly worthy of inclusion. I need a day or two to test it but I suspect that it will soon knock KompoZer off its pedestal. It's very impressive.

by mysticman (not verified) on 1. November 2012 - 1:56  (101673)

tried blue griffon. it cannot handle pages generated by another tool like virtual mechanics.
It fails when I tried to open a page with div/span and all the positions.

blue griffon is just for basic positioning.

by alk4jtas (not verified) on 12. February 2011 - 11:00  (66241)

"Most professional designers and web developers use an advanced WYSIWYG editor" if you say so...

by mistywindow on 29. March 2011 - 4:04  (68736)

Actually, I didn't say so. That was my illustrious predecessor. Although it wouldn't surprise me. Certainly in a large sector of the professional web design market Dreamweaver dominates. I've modified the wording to reflect my vacillation. :)

by freeandeasy (not verified) on 8. February 2011 - 17:55  (66036)

MICROSOFT SHAREPOINT DESIGNER 2007 IS NOW FREE!

why not use the best Wysiwyg! not as combersome as 2010 express.
I really like it.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=baa3ad86-bfc1-4bd4-9812-d9e710d44f42&displaylang=en

by Montana Griz (not verified) on 11. June 2011 - 14:01  (73639)

Great find! Just installed free MICROSOFT SHAREPOINT DESIGNER 2007 on my Win 7 64 bit laptop and it works perfect.

by mistywindow on 29. March 2011 - 7:55  (68741)

Sorry about the delay. You posted this on my 70th birthday while I was otherwise occupied living in a tent in a soul-cleansing place called Tawharanui.

You're right. MS's now-free previous release of SharePoint Designer is a definite contender. I'm evaluating it.

by MidnightCowboy on 29. March 2011 - 9:23  (68744)

Tawharanui looks very nice from the online pics. Hope you enjoyed your birthday :)

by Stas (not verified) on 27. January 2011 - 7:56  (65297)

I use and suggest Codelobster PHP Edition.
It is very powerful and free HTML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript editor with many useful and cure features.

by Awitch (not verified) on 18. November 2010 - 3:01  (61341)

Love the comments.
I use Dreamweaver CS4 and i needed a html editor that a newbie could use, so another staff member could update a newletter we send out.

I agree one of the best free editors is KompoZer, for newbies.
He was clicking away in no time, editing and without any problems.

Thankyou for helping me find Kompozer.

by earl leighton (not verified) on 11. October 2010 - 18:38  (59396)

i cannot find where to go down load html editor i just dont see a place to go theres a lot of places to click on things BUT WHERE IS YOUR DOWN LOAD FOR HTML AT your page is tooo full

by mistywindow on 11. October 2010 - 18:45  (59397)

Each program's entry above has a link to take you to the download site. Marked by a downward pointing blue arrow icon.

by Anonymous on 24. June 2010 - 13:16  (52991)

I would suggest ActiveState Komodo Edit (note that "Komodo IDE" application is commercial), as I found it really powerful with HTML/XHTML/CSS
http://community.activestate.com/products/Komodo

I also appreciated a lot of it being a multi-platform application: I've been able to edit the same project and move it easily back and forth between Windows/Linux, and I'm sure the same is valid for MacOSX hosts.

~Lou

by Chromium Fanboy (not verified) on 23. October 2011 - 19:08  (82006)

+1

by mistywindow on 24. June 2010 - 17:11  (53013)

I agree Lou. Komodo Edit is an excellent editor and for HTML/CSS it stacks up well against Active State's paid version. It's in the review queue.

by Anonymous on 9. June 2010 - 17:40  (51743)

you've forgot to mention NETBEANS which is best tool for web development including HTML and CSS. NetBeans can help you build robust Web applications. Like most IDEs it has a steep learning curve because they don't often work in the same way that Web editors do. But once you get used to it you'll be hooked. One nice feature is the version control included in the IDE which is really useful for people working in large development environments. If you write Java and Web pages this is a great tool.

by mistywindow on 9. June 2010 - 17:48  (51746)

I agree Anon, thanks for your input. I've just taken over this category and will be updating it within days. I'll be adding Netbeans, Bluefish, and maybe a couple of others.

by Anonymous on 29. April 2010 - 10:32  (48688)

I have found NVU to be the easiest to use for me. It isn't over complicated and seems more user friendly than most. Great job Gizmo. Keep up the good work

by mistywindow on 9. June 2010 - 17:54  (51749)

Nvu development stopped long ago - 2006 I think. The development was taken over with improvements and bug fixes and published as KompoZer. If you like Nvu, you'll love KompoZer.

by Anonymous on 1. April 2010 - 22:13  (46711)

Okay, sorry to give this article a low rating but in the past I have found that one of the great strengths of Gizmo's site is that it caters to the complete beginner as well as the sophisticated techie.

I am afraid the software reviewed here is all very user unfriendly and the author's bias toward the techie but difficult to use is very clearly stated in the introduction:

"Most professional designers and web developers use an advanced WYSIWYG editor, such as DreamWeaver, but quite a few just use a simple text editor and take a certain pride in doing so."

Great, take pride in your fantastic skill, but please, please suggest a bit of software for us amateurs. Yes I am incompetent. Yes, I am a fool. But this site used to cater to me and my oafish kind just as much as you programmers born under a red sun who only have kryptonite to fear.

by LOCO GATO (not verified) on 21. January 2011 - 15:56  (64961)

For those who really do not want to worry about HTML coding but need to write web pages, I would suggest any modern word processor (Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, Corel Wordperfect...), do all the formatting needed, and save as HTML. That's it!

Uploading the pages (and connected files, such as images) is another matter.

by mistywindow on 31. May 2010 - 1:30  (50656)

An HTML editor is never going to be easy for a beginner. None of the available programs, free or commercial, are "easy" in the way you describe.

To be able to create anything beyond the most basic website you need a knowledge of HTML and (preferably) CSS. You don't need to be an expert, but you need to put some effort into learning the basics.

The nearest thing to a complete no-brainer web design program was Microsoft's FrontPage - now discontinued because it's no longer standards compliant. It produced very clunky HTML code and required the host to provide FrontPage Extensions.

It was useful in that a newbie could get up and running without any web scripting knowledge and then polish their pages' scripting after learning some HTML and CSS.

The nearest free program to FrontPage is probably KomPoZer.

I'm not an IT pro, but I've been tinkering with web design for a while and I've found that, unless you pay big money for Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression, the best programs are not WYSIWYG. You're better off using an editor like Bluefish or Komodo Edit and viewing your pages in a browser.

You're right about some purists having the attitude that if you can't build a website with Notepad you're not a real web designer. That's just silly. The better editors use tools like code hinting and syntax highlighting which are a great help. To scoff at such aids makes no sense to most people.

There's no easy answer for a complete beginner.

by average joe (not verified) on 9. January 2011 - 2:42  (64166)

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=baa3ad86-bfc1-4bd4-9812-d9e710d44f42&displaylang=en

Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is free, and is the "next" Frontpage

by freedog96150 on 15. April 2010 - 20:11  (47718)

WYSIWYG HTML editors is one of those categories where there is no winning and no right answer. The problem is NOT that editors don't exist for beginners, but that web standards are so varied and browser capabilities are all over the map. No single editor package can possibly cover all bases. Even expensive programs like Dreamweaver fall short on being a true all-in-one editor for website development. Until all browsers and sites adhere to a single standard, the beginner is doomed to confusion and knowledge of HTML code as well as some CSS and Javascript code will be necessary in order to create good web sites.

One of the comments suggested that Word is far easier to use than any of the recommendations. I urge people to take that comment lightly. Two H-U-G-E problems with Word. As an HTML editor, the code it produces is HORRIBLE and so far from standards compliant it should be shunned. Also, most of the editors mentioned in the review have other features such as built-in FTP, design and code views, and some sense of web standards they follow in their code output. Word does not of that. If you need your website to show up and rank in Google, you are best avoiding Word as your editor.

If you are really looking for ease of use for site development, your best bet is to find a webhost that installs either Wordpress or any of the full-featured CMS (content management systems) and building your site off one of those platforms. Getting custom designed themes/skins/looks can still be a challenge for most people with a CMS, but at least the amount of coding you need to do or know will be minimal.

My own personal journey down this road had me starting with basic free editors and lots of frustrating moments. I then sprang for Dreamweaver thinking it would be the "magic elixir" to all my web design problems. It did help some, but not really. Today, I still use DW, but do 90% of my website coding in their "code view". Once you learn a bit of HTML, it is just much quicker.

Hopefully this explains some of the perceived attitude that my fellow editor takes with the review. We have obviously been down similar paths and I find the advice to be spot on. To allude to a beginner that there is an easy path is a disservice. We are best telling the complete beginner to roll up their sleeves and dive under the hood. All we can do is point out the path of least resistance.

by LOCO GATO (not verified) on 21. January 2011 - 15:58  (64962)

I agree about Microsoft Word. OpenOffice Writer is probably the best in this category.

by RonnieJ on 1. April 2010 - 22:22  (46712)

I agree with many things you say here. Most all of the HTML editors here are not very good for rank amateurs, and that would include me. But I still appreciate the efforts of the freeware programmers and this website which is EXCELLENT for all of us.

by Anonymous on 1. April 2010 - 23:19  (46714)

Much of the site is excellent and I would give five stars to it.

This particular article is excellent, as long as you are an advanced user.

I'm just calling it as it is - this is not any good for the beginner. Credit where credit is due, though, the author doesn't pretend otherwise.

The fact remains, however, that there is little here for the beginner.

But I'm not expecting magic. I can successfully use various applications to get documents that I want with text, graphics and so on that print out on paper, but when it comes to the web... thrrrrrrrrp! It all looks great until right near the end when the font sizes and colours change all by themselves for seemingly no reason at all, or the file uploads (and why not link to the article on ftp?) seemingly okay but is invisible to one browser, perfectly okay in another and visible but mangled in another. Or, and this has happened to me in Komposer, the file disappears altogether. I don't want fancy graphics, just a sort of word processor for HTML.

To be honest Microsoft Word is easier to use than Komposer.

Perhaps I could write an article for people that want a simple web site that they can control and add to without expense, fuss, or tipping into clinical hypertension?

by MidnightCowboy on 2. April 2010 - 10:18  (46748)

Agreed with Kendall below. Please register and then contact me directly via our PM system if you would like more details about what is involved and how to proceed.

by kendall.a on 2. April 2010 - 1:25  (46720)

I encourage you to go ahead and write that article and submit it here for publication. We are always looking for good, well-written, and informative articles; especially if they advocate freeware programs.

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