I’ve just been debugging display issues in the CSS in Knowlege Constructs FAQ-Tastic tonight. Firefox and Safari on Mac were a breeze to get right: just pull all the margins and padding off of
ol.faq with a
.nonumbers ol class that I’d already been using. It was especially easy to figure it out with the Web Developer’s Toolbar on Firefox.
Unfortunately a quick excursion over to the Darkside and Internet Explorer (the blinkers through which 92% of the visitors to our clients still see the web – among Folivision vistors Internet Explorer users are a minority), showed that the CSS code just wasn’t working. Indentation had gone totally astray.
In the absence of Web Developer’s Toolbar for Internet Explorer, there is no way to get instant Internet Explorer preview. The closest thing is to open up the file directly from the server and save it back to the server. Usually, I am set up with two monitors on my desk, a 20″ Samsung 205B for the Windows box and an HP LP3065 for the Mac work station. It’s just a matter of editing in CSSEdit or BBedit on the Mac, saving onto the server and pressing F5 on the PC keyboard.
We’ve installed a Linux machine now – the first of many – and I had to give up my 20″ Samsung 205B and plug the Windows box back into the HP LP3065. (Both monitors are highly recommended, btw.)
Pushing input and switching keyboards was not efficient (3 movements instead of one, along with a screenflash each time).
So I decided to take the plunge and go looking for a Windows XHTML/CSS editor which would allow me to open up files from the server. It was either that or move a monitor.
I’d had a quick run-in with HTML-Kit a couple of nights ago which I found via somed SEO research I was doing (htmlkit are doing some serious link selling) but had not been happy at all with the tool. It was ugly and clumsy. Nothing like being at home on BBedit (which while arguably drab, is not clumsy). The website was particularly stressful with it’s ugly and unreadable four column layout. Would you want to trust your html and CSS editor to people who can’t build a readable web page? Me neither. While version 292 is free, all future versions and advanced functionality are relatively expensive, with just part of the pro package costing $65. I don’t know if the guys at htmlkit have a drug habit they are supporting with their newfound commercial activities and advertising but something is seriously amiss.
So I decided to look more seriously this time. After reading quite a few reviews, I managed to find what is the finest development environment on Windows fairly easily – Aptana Studio. Our programmers here at Foliovision work in a cousin of Aptana called Eclipse and they love it. The website itself is gorgeous. I was sure I’d found my own Windows web development tool.
But when I downloaded Aptana Studio I was shocked to see 90MB come down the pipes. There is no way that I want a 90MB text editor. Not for my HTML and CSS editing. I still believe in lightweight software (speaking of which Open Office, it’s time to go on a diet – you’re looking too much like Microsoft’s own products).
UltraEdit had come recommended by a friend who is really into ugly but efficient Windows apps. UltraEdit may be efficient but I won’t be finding out as the program is so hideous that there was no way I wanted to even trial it. Weighing in at 10MB, UltraEdit did pass the efficiency scale. What particularly turned me off was the aggressive marketing selling tools which should be included in the editor itself (UltraCompare for file comparison) or of no particular use to someone looking for a text editor (UltraSentry, a Windows web history eraser). Why do I want to spend $139 to get a text editor?
EditPlus is even uglier than UltraEdit and nearly as expensive. In 2008, it should be a crime to write applications so hideous and charge money for them.
On the same website, where I had found my UltraEdit review, I found another freeware text editor reviewed: HateML. Apart from the silly name (comes from German pronunciation of HTML – ha -T-M-L), the feature list looked good.
- automatic syntax checker: nothing like the coloured code for showing you typos before you even upload the file to the server – preemptive debugging
- code hinting, just like with CSSEdit. I actually don’t like code hinting much as I know the tags for the languages I use and find that it gets in the way most of the time
- built-in FTP client with server side editing (not upload and download)
There are some other nice features which mean nothing to me but would be very useful in the right hands, like PHP debugging, site management, website templates, MySQL managers. You won’t outgrow Hateml too quickly.
A quick visit to the website showed that Hateml’s programmer Michal Gajek cares about aesthetics and cares about code which validates. A good start.
The application itself is a delight. I was able to use the big monitor to good advantage editing the CSS in one colourful window and with a quick click and press of F5 see a preview directly in Internet Explorer. The ftp upload is even faster than on my Mac. Strangely enough Hateml is written in Delphi. This is the first usable Delphi program that I remember using. I much prefer the Delphi look and feel at this point to a Java UI.
It might be that if I spent a lot more time on the Windows side, I’d want a full fledged environment like Aptana but for now, I’m delighted with Hateml and thoroughly recommend it as one of the unsung heroes of the web coding world.
It really appears that the main thing many commercial applications – UltraEdit I’m looking your way – have going for them is hype. If I’m Hateml is still doing service for me in three months, I will donate. I recommend to everyone to donate to their favorite freeware authors, after a three to six month trial. There are a few freeware programs which I have donated to three times over the course of years. Those donations leave us choices.
In case you still remember about the FAQ styling, here are your Toronto home buyer‘s questions.