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by Franki

Finally, an article about something directly related to web design.

Open Source software is not just for Linux, there is a growing amount of multi-platform and Windows open source software showing up all over the net. (Even Microsoft is getting into the act as a PR campaign.)

Based on a very recent Mozilla platform, Nvu (pronounced N-View) has produced versions for Windows and Linux. The goal for this program is pretty simple, to make an open source program for web developers that has the best features of both Frontpage and Dreamweaver in a small and easy to use package.

I’ve had it installed on both my Linux and Windows boxes for a while now, and although I normally use a plain text editor for (x)HTML work, I’ve been very impressed with this program. It has features that many Frontpage users will find familiar like “Design View”, “Tag View”, “HTML Source” and “Preview” it also has a great colour chooser and table creator. Extra features include a built in code validation and clean-up tools, and some excellent CSS creation and editing tools as well.

What’s good? Well the code it creates is neat, very neat. It also avoids using depreciated tags and attributes and uses modern CSS where ever possible by default. It indents code very nicely and adds doctypes and relevant meta tags. It also has the usual “publish site” facilities, though I have never used them in any package, preferring to do the uploading manually) Another very handy extra that Nvu got from its Mozilla heritage is the tab system, you can have half a dozen pages open for work and each page has its own “undo/redo” stack. You can read more about Nvu features here.

What’s missing? Well from my testing so far, the most noticeable emission is the lack of syntax highlighting of HTML code, which is kind of odd since Mozilla itself supports syntax highlighting, so no doubt it will show up at some stage. (or it might already be there and I’ve not yet found where to turn it on.) I’ve also not seen anywhere that you can specify XHTML instead of HTML (But again, I might have just missed it. Not that it matters much since the code produced is so clean that swapping it to xHTML is a snap).

The other omission from what I can see, is any concessions to dynamically generated code like Perl/PHP and database integration, so its missing the high end stuff that Dreamweaver MX users will take for granted, but since it’s an sponsored (Lindows backs NVU) and active project, you can expect to see all manner of new features added as time goes on.

There are no free cross platform WYSIWYG HTML editors I have found, that can compete with the professionalism shown in this application, everything is where you expect it to be and the interface is clean, logical and uncluttered. I had no experience at all with this program when I started looking at it, and in fact I had not used anything but a text editor for my web work for a considerable time, and yet I was able to start work straight away and had knocked out a couple of nested table layout pages in less then 30 minutes.

Give it a go, you might be surprised and in any case, it costs you nothing so why not?



One Response to “Excellent free Frontpage/Dreamweaver contender.”

  1. laniorla Says:

    waiting for more good articles, I have read a lot about it and know how difficult it is. shell shockers

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