How to Find the Best HTML Editor

HTML is a scripting language that can be used to create web pages. Often, HTML files have a .htm or .html extension that can be opened up using popular web browsers like Firefox and Chrome. In conjunction with PHP and other server side scripting languages, CSS, HTML can be used to create dynamic and feature rich web pages.

HTML syntax is comprised of specific tags. And these tags usually must be opened and then (sometimes much later) closed. Improperly written HTML can cause web pages to display incorrectly — or not at all. Such mistakes can easily be prevented using an HTML editor.

HTML Editors

HTML editors have features including HTML validation and syntax coloring to help users catch and correct common mistakes. Let’s take a look at some great HTML editors you can use to write clean HTML code.

Notepad++

Notepad++ is a popular program used to write code that is a step beyond the standard Notepad program found in Windows. The program automatically recognizes HTML files by the language and allows users to open up multiple files. Notepad++ supports a tabbed interface that makes it easier for users to jump from one open file to the next. The program also features syntax highlighting for HTML files and advanced search functions that support regular expressions. Best of all, the program can be downloaded for free.

Sublime Text

Like Notepad++, Sublime Text features syntax highlighting and tabs for open files. Sublime Text also features numerous packages and extensions. You can install packages for free and if current packages are not suitable, you can create them or add JSON files. The editor enjoys a large user following on the web and tons of tutorials can be accessed for help. Even though the editor is not free, the advanced features may be worth the price.

PSPad

PSPad is also a simple text editor which can be used to view and edit HTML code files. The program features syntax highlighting as well as advanced features that allow users to edit files stored on a remote server. Users will also enjoy the drag and drop feature which allows them to drag text from a different application to PSPad. The search and replace functionality supporting regular expressions is also available. The program is free to download from the PSPad website.

UltraEdit

UltraEdit is another code editor that can be used to edit HTML files. This editor has some great features that allow big files to be handled efficiently as well as a search and replace function that works across multiple files. The software has won a lot of recognition including being “Top Rated” by PC Magazine. Users working with UltraEdit will also enjoy its security since the software has been CISP compliant for over a decade. Even though UltraEdit is not free, its features and efficient handling of files may make it worthwhile.

EditPlus

Like the other editors mentioned, EditPlus features syntax highlighting, advanced search features, and a tabbed interface. Besides standard editing and search features, EditPlus also has an FTP feature that allows users to connect to a remote server and upload the files they were editing. Users can also use the program’s integrated web browser to preview changes. This is especially handy for developers wanting to make and test many incremental changes to their code. EditPlus is not free, but the integrated features that save time may make the program worth the money.

CoffeeCup

CoffeeCup is another great editor for modifying and creating HTML files. With this editor, you can either open files stored locally on your hard drive or files stored remotely on your website. CoffeeCup allows you to either create a completely new CSS file or modify one of many existing templates found in the editor for your own site. To keep you organized, CoffeeCup has created a concept called “Website Projects” that allows you to structure your website project how you want. Other useful features include the ability to store certain parts of the code as components to be reused later and advanced code completion.

Programmer’s Notepad

Programmer’s Notepad goes above and beyond the standard Windows Notepad application for HTML editing through its syntax coloring and tabbed interface that allows users to edit multiple files. This program allows users to easily navigate HTML code and find definitions of elements through use of Ctags and support for large files and projects. If you are not satisfied with the program’s features, then you can add functionality to the programming using C++ or Python. Fortunately, this editor is freely available to try and download.

SynWrite

Another free editor you can use to edit HTML files is SynWrite. Like the other editors, SynWrite has features such as syntax highlighting, code folding, search, and regular expressions. Unlike some other editors, SynWrite also features support for multiple highlights and carets to allow users to edit multiple file locations at once. The creators of SynWrite have also chosen to integrate the program with HTML Tidy which formats the HTML code to have the appropriate headers, trace errors, and good formatting. The program also has a color editor to help developers choose the correct numerical representation for the color they wish to use.

PlainEdit

PlainEdit is another no cost editor based on the .NET platform that allows users to easily modify HTML files. With this program users can enjoy features such as syntax highlighting, ability to insert template code or snippets, a tabbed interface, and regular expressions. To help users be more efficient with development time, PlainEdit has added the feature to create code templates for future reuse.

jEdit

jEdit, the “mature” programmer’s editor, is free code editing software users can use to change HTML files. The program is based on Java technology and has many features including syntax highlighting, folding, automatic indenting, and file management. The program also detects character encodings and saves files appropriately. Being Java based, jEdit runs on pretty much every operating system.

Aptana Studio

Aptana is one of the most advanced editors that is free. The program is a professional development environment that supports many different programming languages including HTML. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a web developer can be not knowing if a particular tag is supported across all browsers. Fortunately, Aptana has a feature which analyzes the tags being used and outputs which browsers support a particular tag. The program can also be integrated with a git code repository and features a debugger to help trace issues.

ConTEXT

The ConTEXT program is another code editor that can be used to edit HTML files. ConTEXT is similar to other editors and features a tabbed interface that allows users to open multiple files at once. The program allows users to record macros and supports multiple languages for localization, “unlimited” file sizes for editing, and integrated file comparisons. Code templates are also available to help developers.

GNU Emacs

Emacs is one of the oldest editors still in use, but it has been greatly updated over time — especially in the form of GNU Emacs. The editor is general in its abilities, but has special features for writing HTML. It includes the ability to process regular expressions, display code with syntax highlighting, and support multiple human languages. Like other editors, Emacs can be extended through packages or its own Lisp interpreter. It is available on pretty much every computer platform.

TopStyle

The TopStyle editor is another easy to use program to edit HTML files. Like others, TopStyle features syntax highlighting along with find and replace. The program has greatly improved the find and replace function to include files stored on remote servers. The program also has a highlighting feature for color values as well as an easy to use editor to pick colors for color attributes of CSS classes or HTML tags.

TextWrangler

TextWrangler is a free code editor for Mac platforms which can be used for HTML editing. The editor allows the user to setup color schemes for syntax highlighting as well as a tabbed interface for editing code files. With TextWrangler, it is also possible to see multiple statistics including word count, character count, and and line count. Users looking for a basic editor on the Mac platform will find much to like about TextWrangler.

TextMate

TextMate is another code editor specifically geared toward the Mac platform. Its features not only include basic syntax highlighting, it also includes code completion, automatic indentation, code blocks, and search functionality for entire projects. Since TextMate aims to join the best aspects of the Linux command line with a GUI interface, the program has many different avenues for inputting command line scripts and is available for purchase on TextMate’s site.

BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon is a WYSIWYG editor that allows users to place various components on a canvas to help design a web page. Though editing is GUI based, BlueGriffon allows code to be viewed on a separate editor within the program. BlueGriffon also supports many other features for editing including HTML5 and CSS. Advanced features of this program include one that allows the customer to select an element’s color by pointing and clicking a mouse anywhere on the screen. The editor also uses the same rendering engine as FireFox meaning what you see in the program will more than likely match how the web page is rendered in FireFox. The BlueGriffon software is available for free to download but some additional features including support is only available in the paid version.

Browser Editors

There are options for doing HTML coding right in your browser. These offer some special abilities

Firebug

If you ever wanted to see the changes you made to HTML code update in real time, then Firebug is a great option. Firebug is a plugin to FireFox which allows users to select HTML elements on the web page and go straight to the code that renders the HTML. This allows users to view how the HTML code affects the web page in real time. Once Firebug takes the user to the particular element, the user can make changes and see if the change actually worked buy viewing the latest output. Firebug also helps users understand how items like network traffic and JavaScript programs affect website functionality. Overall, Firebug is a great tool to find HTML errors and improve website performance.

Slim Text

Slim Text is an extension for the Chrome browser which allows users to edit different code files including HTML. Installation of the program is easy and just requires a download from the Google App store. Once downloaded and installed, Slim Edit works like all other editors with syntax highlighting and a tabbed interface.

Mobile Editors

For those times when you need to work on the go, these editors run on tablets and phones.

Textastic

At times, you may need to use your iPad to edit files to get a quick update on your website. Fortunately, an app called Textastic is available on the iPad. This app allows users to edit and save code and display the appropriate code syntax colors. To make it easier on developers, the app features a special keyboard that allows users to quickly pick characters used for coding. Textastic also provides a feature to allow the user to connect to dropbox or FTP for file updates. It can be purchased from the iTunes store.

Code Anywhere

Code Anywhere has similar features to Textastic that allow users to update their website from a tablet. Code Anywhere is available for download on Android and iOS phones and tablets.

Conclusion

Numerous HTML editors are available on multiple platforms including tablets, laptops, and PCs. They have many features that allow for quick and readable edits. No matter what platform you are on, each of the applications presented here will have enough features to make edits easier.