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Graham Petrie
09-08-2002, 12:38 AM
Hi,

A recent comment by Rod J in the "your own website" thread has prompted me to start this thread (in order to prevent hijacking the original) to discuss the role of the HTML editor in writing HTML.

I have used notepad and found it to be acceptable - although a lot of help off websites was required to learn HTML.

Rod J recommended I try a HTML editor called Aracnophilia.

My partner has used Selida, and I know people that have used 1st page.

My question is, do you veteran HTML'ers recommend using a HTML editor?

If yes, why (over notepad etc) and which one? Why that one?

Do you use an HTML validator?

Which and why?

Also a couple of other saml queries.

Which character set do you use? (eg UTF-8 etc)
Which version of HTML? (eg 4.01) Why?
When a validator tells you that an apostrophe or inverted commas are invalid characters, do you bother changing them to their HTML ascii values? (eg &#34 and &#39)

Thanks alot for your time.

Oh, and a breif line about the length of your experience (eg years) would be helpful.

Cheers

G P

-=JM=-
09-08-2002, 12:53 AM
Notepad is perfectly fine. The only point in going to something else (hand coding) is so that the HTML coding is coloured. Which makes it a lot easier to determine from the text for the site.

If you've got Office 2000/XP (not sure on others) there is Microsoft Script Editor which does the job quite well. Also has a WYSIWYG interface if you're into that kind of thing.

More benefits of other things above Notepad. The ability to preview what is happening. Which avoids the big [alt][f][s] [alt]+[tab] [F5] kind of thing that happens with the 98se notepad anyway. At least the 2K one lets you use CTRL+S

Graham Petrie
09-08-2002, 01:02 AM
LOL :-) I must press that key combo a thousand times a day. The other one is ALT + F -> S, ALT + TAB, TRANS (FTP CLIENT), ALT +TAB -> TAB, CTRL + F5.

G P

Mike
09-08-2002, 09:23 AM
> If you've got Office 2000/XP (not sure on others)
> there is Microsoft Script Editor which does the job
> quite well. Also has a WYSIWYG interface if you're
> into that kind of thing.

I also use the Microsoft Script Editor from Office 2000/XP. Although I did find that the XP version didn't like opening saved HTML files, but that could have just been my old setup, so I'll try it again one day soon.

If I could afford it I'd buy Dreamweaver MX, as this would have to be the best HTML program I've used, but I'd probably still go back into MSE to remove some of the added code that most of the big HTML programs add in.

Colour coding for different parts of the code is essential - if not only because it helps spot where you might have made an error (no close tag etc.)

I do also use a validator, TidyGUI from www.w3.org (I think that's the URL), really to make sure that most of my HTML etc. will display on various browsers, and also sometimes it cleans it up and removes unneeded stuff, which could make the HTML file smaller overall (small is always good).

I also test using IE & Netscape, and at different resolutions (easy to do when using two screens). Oh, two screens also make it good for previewing, as you can see what it looks like on one screen, and do the editing on the other.

I have occasionally used Frontpage XP, which is nice and easy to use - good for beginners I guess - but it adds a LOT of unneeded MS code which is not good, especially if you want to view the page in a non-MS browser. MS Word is even worse for this! I made a nice easy page once in Word, saved it as a webpage and had a 44k page. Cleaned it up (using MSE) and got it down to a massive 5k :), so I really recommend against using Microsoft Word to make web pages.

I think I had something else I wanted to say in here, but I forget what it was now :)

Mike.

Mike
09-08-2002, 09:27 AM
> Rod J recommended I try a HTML editor called
> Aracnophilia.
>
> My partner has used Selida, and I know people that
> have used 1st page.
>
> My question is, do you veteran HTML'ers recommend
> using a HTML editor?

I've recommended in my other post, but I have to say that 1stPage2000 would have to be one of the best free HTML editors I've ever used.

> Which character set do you use? (eg UTF-8 etc)

I don't

> Which version of HTML? (eg 4.01) Why?

Generally the latest (if that's 4.01 then that's it), as I want to be able to do as much as possible, and I don't want that to restrict me. If people haven't updated their browser to handle it, then its their problem, not mine.

> When a validator tells you that an apostrophe or
> inverted commas are invalid characters, do you bother
> changing them to their HTML ascii values? (eg "
> and ')

Not usually. Occasionally I've used the code values for other characters, just to be sure they're displayed, but common ones like " or ' etc. should just be typed in as such. The validator I use has never brought those to my attention.

> Oh, and a breif line about the length of your
> experience (eg years) would be helpful.

about 3 or so years now I guess?

Mike.

Susan B
09-08-2002, 09:40 AM
I started learning HTML a couple of years ago and used notepad exclusively until I learnt the basics then decided to try an editor after finding some free ones.

FrontPage Express was the first, but I found that too frustrating so I tried Arachnophilia until I heard of 1stPage 2000, which became my preferred one. I've also got HTML-Kit but I keep coming back to 1stPage.

Notepad is fine for quick and dirty jobs, including touch-ups and check-ups but for spending quite a bit of time on a job the HTML editors come into their own.

Like JM said, the code is coloured and helps it to stand out. Another thing that beats notepad hands down is search and replace. I often copy and paste the first page and make a template of it. Using search and replace makes it so easy to change the text that needs altering. Prior to the editors I used to copy and paste into Word, do the alterations then copy and paste it back again. It had hassle stamped all over it.

What else do they do?

- Drag and drop graphics - just drag your graphic file into the document and it sets up the img src code for you, including the file's name, size and space for the alt text. Very quick.

- The colour picker is marvellous - choose a colour and the tag is done for you.

- Tags are a click away, no more repetitive typing or copying and pasting tags.

- Creating tables is a breeze - just choose how many columns and rows you want then start filling them in.

- If I forget which tags to use, eg for list definitions or whatever, 1stPage has a dictionery to consult for advice.

- Like JM says, the preview is very handy for instant inspection.

That's just a very small handful of the advantages. I wouldn't be without my editor/s now, they make everything much quicker than using notepad. I do use the validator but sometimes find it a bit too enthusiastic so I normally run it, have a look at what errors it finds and correct them myself if I don't want to change all the "errors" it finds.

Mike
09-08-2002, 09:44 AM
> I do use the validator but sometimes find it a bit too
> enthusiastic so I normally run it, have a look at
> what errors it finds and correct them myself if I
> don't want to change all the "errors" it
> finds.

That's the thing, isn't it. The validators often find things that aren't errors, and if you just let it do its thing, often a lot of needed code is taken out because the validator doesn't like it. If using a validator, just read its suggestions and fix the bits you need to fix, and leave what shouldn't need changing.

Mike.

Susan B
09-08-2002, 10:03 AM
Mike, that's exactly what I was trying to say.

You'd make a far better teacher than I would. :-)

Greg S
09-08-2002, 10:28 AM
This is such an incredibly useful post. The questions themselves are an inspiration to a newbie html do-it-yourselfer. I do a lot of site creation, and the most useful functions I found are Ctrl C - Ctrl V - I am so damn busy with life that I simply cannot find the time to actually learn to write in code myself.

Having said that, I have to rave about NoteTab Lite - it's ability to strip html from text copied from an html page is a true gift to humanity. It wins over Notepad in it's ability to save files with Unix line breaks, useful for stuff such as http authentication. Why this is, I dunno, but it works for me. :)

My Dream Ultra D4 has a validator, which self-reports my stuff-ups (what a good boy it is!), so I seldom go to another checker.

Experience - ok, I'm definitely not a vet.

antmannz
09-08-2002, 04:28 PM
My fave has to be 1st Page 2000. After using HotDog, FrontPage Express, Frontpage, InterDev (ughh!) and Dreamweaver, I ended up using Notepad for ages until I found 1st Page.

Rod J
09-08-2002, 04:56 PM
> MS Word is even worse for this! I made a
> nice easy page once in Word, saved it as a webpage
> and had a 44k page. Cleaned it up (using MSE) and
> got it down to a massive 5k :), so I really
> recommend against using Microsoft Word to make
> web pages.
>

I totally agree Mike. I used Word 2000 to create an old homepage and I could not believe how much junk HTML code it created. I have used an old version of Arachnophilia to create web pages with and I liked it. It was simple to use and free. But I see the latest version is written in Java so you have to download a Java runtime environment (9Mb download, about 40Mb installed), so I'm giving it a miss because of that. Apparently the author of Arachnophilia is anti-Microsoft and I think he has some valid points. But the best application I have used (albeit infrequently) is Allaire HomeSite 4.5. It's just a brilliant application, with way more power than I'll ever need.

Rod J

mejobloggs
09-08-2002, 05:22 PM
Hey! Did you know that 1st Page 3 is meant to be out soon?
On http://www.evrsoft.com/
they say this
3 August, 2001. - 1st Page 3 is nearly complete!
Which is a year ago, and they still havnt said anything about it.
Anyway thought id tell you what I am waiting for.

What graphics programs do you guys use?

I cant afford any of my own, i just use Image Ready 1.0 and ImageStyler 1.0 which are so old they cant do much. I cant even find updates for them, since Adobe doesnt support them anymore.
Anyway

Heather P
09-08-2002, 05:27 PM
5 years experience. Started with Notepad for 4 years. Have used Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion Studio in passing. For the last few months have been using Macromedia Homesite and loving it. Notepad on Steroids!

Graham Petrie
09-08-2002, 05:57 PM
I use Adobe Photoshop 7.0. It was a prize in a competition at a local PC shop. Before I got that all I could afford was Jasc Paint Sjop Pro 7.0 which would be the best freeware graphics editing program out there. It supports all file formats even AutoCAD .dxf Drawing Interchange Format.

It is shareware on a 30 day trial that is in groundhog day - it is always day one of the trial!

Otherwise, if your paying, definitely Photoshop.

(Although, I've used Corel Draw at varsity, and that is an awesome program I assure you!)

G P

Susan B
09-08-2002, 06:20 PM
Paintshop Pro is not freeware.

Yes, you can try it out for 30 days but it will no longer work after that 30 days is up unless you reformat your hard drive. I don't know how you managed to have it remain on "day one of the trial".

I can't justify the expense of Photoshop but PSP is worth every cent I paid for it. There are a lot of excellent tutorials on the web for using it, as there probably are for PS.

Graham Petrie
09-08-2002, 06:34 PM
I got it off the PC World CD and installed it on my Windows XP Pro. That was in August last year on August 2001 free CD. I have had it iinstalled now for three or more months and it is still on day one.

A lecturer at uni has it on his 2000machine (also from pcworld cd) and he has had it on there since aaugust 2001. It is still on day one.

G P

Graham L
09-08-2002, 06:37 PM
The GIMP graphics package is free. It is said to be as good as Photo Shop. It started on Linux, but there is now a Windows version. Try www.gimp.org/ ... that is a guess at the url, but it will probably work.

The point about HTML verifiers is that they check against the correct, standard, syntax. If you have used a MS HTML editor, it will (deliberately or maliciously ) use MS "extensions" to the standard, which will work with MS browsers. The verifier should tag such things, because they might not work on other browsers, which are written to work with the standard. It's like a certain advertisement. That would not pass a Java verifier. It works with MS "improved" Java interpreters, but crashes the Sun standard Java.

The "special" characters are included in the HTMl standard. The idea of using the "&", name, ";" or "&", "#", numeric code, ";" formats instead of the special character as generated in your editor is that other people might select different character sets. If you use the defined identifuers, everyone will get the character you intend. If you use what your editor produces, the readers might get the character you intend.

It always pays to use the standards. Things which "work, anyway" often stop working without warning.

Greg S
09-08-2002, 07:19 PM
My PSP must be an oddity - I've not used it much since I bought Photoshop 6 nearly a year ago, but my PSP 6 trial still runs - it gives me a warning at startup that it's xxx days over etc then it launches happily!

mejobloggs
09-08-2002, 09:05 PM
Hey! I downloaded the free GIMP thing, So far its OK, but I havnt really done anything, and a bit confusing for me. Anyway Try it if you want, just make sure you get the Win32 version.

Graham L
09-08-2002, 09:30 PM
Jonathon: Don't assume that GIMP will do everything the same way as any other programmes you have used. It WILL be different. The approach is different. You'll probably find after a while that it is easier, because it has functions which are needed, not "features" which have been added for marketing purposes. As an indication, how big was the download file? Compare that with any of the others.

mejobloggs
10-08-2002, 02:00 PM
It was about 6 - 7 mb

-=JM=-
10-08-2002, 07:51 PM
The GIMP is a very good graphics editor. As are PaintShopPro, PhotoShop, and the CorelDraw collection.

E.ric
10-08-2002, 10:55 PM
One problem when you right click your HTML file and send-to Notepad, is, when the file size gets too big Wordpad will take over from Notepad, that is not the problem, but however as you are writing and saving the HTML file, closing and opening again, and it is getting bigger and bigger, just before the HTML file is big enough to activate wordpad it will still be opened with notepad, at that sate you can only add about 10 characters or so to file before the notepad complains and says something like "not enough memory" it really bugged me when I discovered the problem I thought my computer had a virus or something.

But there are programs that do not have a file size limit like Notepad, and they are free,

MetaPad 3.5 (mpad35.zip download size is 45K), MetaPad is a small and fast http://www.liquidninja.com/metapad/

Notespad 8.0 (ntspad32.zip .97 Meg in file size.) Notespad has a spell checker a lot of free text editors do not have. http://www.newbie.net/NotesPad/index.html

Graham L
11-08-2002, 02:31 PM
That could be a good reason to use Notepad. ;-) Small pages are an excellent idea, and 64k should be big enough for anything sensible :-)

-=JM=-
11-08-2002, 02:39 PM
I totally agree Graham. Webpages should be small and quick to load. With options for any large material.

Graham Petrie
11-08-2002, 03:03 PM
Thanks E.ric - that is interesting - will save me the frustration of it happening to me.


I have started using 1st page 2000. The only thing I really dislike about it is the HTML tidy. It is an adaption of the w3.org one, except it automatically changes your code. What is required is a step by step confirmation process kind of like a spellchecker so that you can ignore any "fixes" you dont want it to do.

Other than that it seems quite good.

I have just discovered the ImageReady module of Adobe Photoshop (I new I had it, but didn't know what it did) It is excellent for creating image maps and then exporting the image and the map code to a html document. I can then cut and paste the code into my working document, and hey preto! instant image map!

G P

Graham Petrie
11-08-2002, 03:11 PM
**Tells self always to spell check!!**

Knew, not new.
presto!, not preto!

Elwin Way
12-08-2002, 12:32 AM
> I totally agree Graham. Webpages should be small and
> quick to load. With options for any large material.

A good example would be here (http://pages.quicksilver.net.nz/ejnmare/resume/). Incidentally, for those who asked about style sheets, the entire layout, formatting and design was set by CSS. Even the navigation bar at the top is defined by CSS. It's all about using your imagination :D

If you want to view the CSS to see how it was done, just right click in the frame, view source, and there you will see at the top the path to the CSS. One is called nav.css and the other is main.css

E.ric
12-08-2002, 08:08 AM
> That could be a good reason to use Notepad. ;-)
> Small pages are an excellent idea, and 64k should be
> big enough for anything sensible :-)


I disagree with that, I have a list of New Zealand television sets of the web with make, model. chassis types and other information, it is getting to be a 90K or more, about over 30 pages if you printed it off, I have seen shorter list like 20 pages of information that the size is more than twice as big.

Anyway the point is once it starts to download you can start reading, while you are doing that it is finishing to down load, then you can go off line,

Were as the other option would be to go from page to page to page ........ and there would a time when you finished reading one page and waiting for the next page to download, sometimes it is a waste of time waiting for the next 10 results all the time when you can get all 60 results in one hit.

Can you follow that? Because I'm lost now, I think?

Mike
12-08-2002, 10:19 AM
> I disagree with that, I have a list of New Zealand
> television sets of the web with make, model. chassis
> types and other information, it is getting to be a
> 90K or more, about over 30 pages if you printed it
> off, I have seen shorter list like 20 pages of
> information that the size is more than twice as big.
> Were as the other option would be to go from page to
> page to page ........ and there would a time when you
> finished reading one page and waiting for the next
> page to download, sometimes it is a waste of time
> waiting for the next 10 results all the time when you
> can get all 60 results in one hit.

No, people get frustrated when waiting for a big page to load. Perhaps split it into categories, year, size, make, whatever to simplify it, or just split it into page by page - I know I much prefer things that way. And provide a search.

Mike.

12-08-2002, 02:35 PM
> I have started using 1st page 2000. The only thing I
> really dislike about it is the HTML tidy

Now I can help you with HTML tidy I made a batch file, you right click your HTML file and send to the batch file, it makes three files
(1) a copy of your work, with line numbers included at the start of the line,
(2) a copy with corrections
(3) a list of errors,

You can send any htm, html, file from any where on the hard drive.
but I have to send the contents of the batch file tonight as it is not on this computer.

12-08-2002, 02:49 PM
find /v /n "" %1 > %1_num.txt
copy %1 "%1_newver.htm"
tidy.exe -config config.txt -f %1_notes.txt -modify "%1_newver.htm"


Copy the above lines into a text file then call it somefile.bat
and put that batch in the same folder as tidy.exe
then include it on your send-to list
then you can right click your HTML work and send it to the batch file

Graham Petrie
12-08-2002, 03:46 PM
Great! Thanks Eric.

Now, how do you get the pogram to work with paths that have spaces in them?

eg my file is E:\Graham's Documents\Flat Website\index.htm

The find string part works fine, and a file with the line numbers is produced corretcly, but then all hell breaks loose.

The new version file is not created, and the noes file gives the following errors:
tidy.exe: can't open file "E:\Graham's"
tidy.exe: can't open file "Documents\Flat"
tidy.exe: can't open file "Website\left.htm_newver.htm"


Something to do with tidy not reading the full path. Works OK if I place the batch file in system32, and then run it from a command window from the directory, but not from send-to. This would be because the send-to makes %1 equal to the whole path and tidy cannot handle this.

I haven't had a proper look at it yet, but if I think of a solution before you, I will post it.

G P

Graham Petrie
12-08-2002, 03:48 PM
Oh, for this case the file would be left.htm, not index.htm, but I am sure you already worked that out.

G P

Graham Petrie
12-08-2002, 04:45 PM
Got it:

find /v /n "" %1 > %1_num.txt
copy %1 %1_newver.htm
tidy.exe -config config.txt -f %1_notes.txt -modify %1_newver.htm

(Missing the unneeded quote marks).

Thanks Eric, I will be using this ALOT! If only I could get the menu item in 1st page to point to the batch file! (This would be where the java version of arachnofilia would be good).

G P

Elwin Way
12-08-2002, 06:06 PM
Graham,

Stricktly speaking, web addresses should not have spaces in them. Therefore it might be a better idea to use _ instead of space. Keeps the cogs oiled :D

Graham Petrie
12-08-2002, 06:25 PM
Elwin, the path with spaces is only to the "home" directory for my site (ie where I keep it on my HD). Once in that directory, there are no spaces. I could solve the issue by making a separate folder on my HD for webpages, or I could remove the quotes and let the prompt do the rest. :-)

BTW Eric, I have created a batch file to remove all of the files your batch file creates after I have viewed them (for instance if you want to check heaps of pages in one directory, and then instead of trying to select the pages you want, and then delete them, you can open a command prompt at the location of the files and run the batch file). It gives you the option of deleting all of the files created by your batch file, or the option of deleting them one-by-one with confirmation required. It only targets files that have the naming convention you used in your batch file.

Copy the following text into a text file. Rename it remtidy.bat and place a copy in your c:\windows\system32 folder. Then open a command prompt at the location you want to use it and type remtidy [enter] to view the online help.

@echo off
cls
if "%1"=="" goto help
if "%1"=="all" goto all
if "%1"=="one" goto one
:help
echo.
echo --------------REMTIDY HELP----------------
echo.
echo To run remtidy type "remtidy" at the command line
echo followed by one of two parameters:
echo.
echo "all" deletes all files in the current folder created by tidy.
echo.
echo "one" deletes the files created by tidy one at a time
echo requiring confirmation for each file.
pause
goto fin
:all
del *.htm_*.*
goto fin
:one
del *.htm_*.* /p
:fin

Enjoy!

G P

E.ric
12-08-2002, 09:54 PM
How come your batch file is having more children?
did I write the instructions wrong?

Let say I have on the D drive a folder;
D:\html-tidy in the folder is only two files we need
tidy.exe
somename.bat

Then lets say I wish to check a file on the desk top called
work.html
buy right clicking and send to somename.bat
it will make three more files on the desktop
WORK.HTM_newver.htm
WORK.HTM_notes.txt
WORK.HTM_num.txt

You do not have to work at the "desk top" folder, you can work in any folder and the three extra files will appear in that folder.
When you are finished fixing out your work (HTML file) you only have three files to delete.

E.ric
13-08-2002, 06:54 AM
Wow man, last night it took about 30 minutes to go from HOME page before I could enter my name & password to make a posting, This morning was only about 2 (as normal)

What I was going add, but last after half an hour just wanted to get it finished and it might of sliped my mind.

First: If HTML tidy fixes up your work, sometimes it will fix it up wrong, so it validates correct, it does not fix it up how you intented to make it, So I always use the error message so I can fix up the original work myself, then revalidate it until it validates correct without error messages,

Second: Even when it passes the "HTML tidy" test it still might not pass the www.w3.org validater test. it best to do it with tidy first to reduce most errors this saves online time.

Graham Petrie
13-08-2002, 09:39 AM
Eric,

Clarification:

Your batch didn't work with the quotation marks, so I removed tham, and it works sweet in any folder. ie just as you described above.

My new batch is for when you have "tidied" a series of documents and you wish to remove all (or some) of the files that have been created.

Thanks alot for the batch.

Sorry to have confused you.

Cheers
G P