Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Web Editors and Tools in Linux

Another aspect of my recent Linux Geekfest has had me studying and trying out different "web development tools." My tool of choice for Web work has been Emacs, the One True Editor, but I'm looking at tracking some larger, more complex projects, and possibly training someone else to work on the Website someday. Strangely, I've never successfully converted anyone to the Church of Emacs, so it seems prudent to add some easier-to-adopt tools to my kit.

Several years ago, I used Bluefish Editor, (native to the Gnome desktop environment) but I became frustrated with all the mouse-clicking it required, and, after I discovered html-helper-mode for Emacs, I abandoned it. I did miss the colorful way it displayed html-markup, but I got over it.

Since then, I have switched from Gnome to KDE because I didn't like the new Gnome screensaver program. (I had originally adopted Gnome for an equally trivial reason, back in 2002.) The html-editor of choice for KDE is Quanta-Plus, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. In fact, because I have both Gnome and KDE desktops installed, I can use either Quanta-Plus or Bluefish, or both.

These editors do the same things equally well--I can't really say one is better than the other, but I have spent more time using Quanta Plus. Actually, I still write the html in Emacs, then open it in the fancy editor, check for errors, use the project management tools, and generally fine-tune the pages.

The tools I have found most useful are Firefox add-ons and extensions, and small utilities. Here is my list of favorites:

  • Agave Colorscheme Designer: Agave is a very simple application for the GNOME desktop that allows you to generate a variety of color schemes from a single starting color. Really fun to play with, but also quite helpful. You can grab a color out of a photograph, and generate a color scheme to match it.
  • Web Developer extension for Firefox adds a menu and a toolbar to the browser with various web developer tools. It is designed for Firefox, Flock and Seamonkey, and will run on any platform that these browsers support including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. This is really great. I've learned a lot by going to Web sites that I like the look of, and taking a look at the CSS to see how it works.
  • Firebug. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page. It lets you see the CSS and HTML just as Web Developer does, but it also lets you "mess with it," change stuff and see what happens. Very cool!
  • Web Development Tools on Linux. A clear, easy to understand description of many "tools" (programs) that make Web sites work these days.

Web Editors For Linux-Land


Larry said...

I used to use html-helper-mode with XEmacs years ago when I hand-coded a personal web-site. It's a great Emacs mode, but with the advent of CMS's like WordPress I quit writing HTML directly. It all boils down to how you want to spend your time -- and for me content is the priority.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I started writing text on IBM 370 terminals about 1980, using xedit and nedit. It's actually easier for me to write content in Emacs than to use the WYSIWYG editors, and there's no need for a mouse, which exacerbates my carpal tunnel issues. Isn't it nice to be able to get a work environment set up exactly the way you like it?