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In order to build effective websites, you’ll need to find and use good tools. In this class, we will rely primarily on text editors to build our sites. However, once you master the fundamentals of standards-based web design, you may want to start using WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) design programs. WYSIWYG programs streamline some aspects of web design, but they also introduce a new set of problems — what you see is NOT always what you get.

This page links to several different software programs that are popular in the web development community. If you find other programs that help you, please send them to Quinn.

Text Editors

  • TextWrangler — “A programmer’s text editor, featuring syntax coloring and function navigation for HTML/XHTML, XML, PHP, JavaScript, Perl, Python, Ruby, Lua, Java, ANSI C, C++, Objective-C, and more…” (Mac; Free)
  • Notepad2 — “A fast and light-weight Notepad-like text editor with syntax highlighting.” (Windows; Free)
  • BBEdit — TextWrangler on steroids. “Provides an abundance of high-performance features for editing, searching, and manipulation of text.” (Mac; $50 for an educational license; Free trial)
  • Notepad++ — Like Windows’ Notepad application, only much much better. (Windows; Free)
  • TextPad — Another replacement Notepad. (Windows; $16.50; Free trial)
  • jEdit – Multiplatform Java-based text editor. The “programmer’s text editor.” (Mac, Windows, Linux; Free)
  • HTML-Kit — Robust text editor with 400+ available plugins. (Windows; Free, or $65 registration to remove ads and nags)
  • TextMate — The “missing editor” for Macs. Aimed at hard-core coders. (Mac; $43 for an educational license; Free trial)


  • Dreamweaver — The industry standard web development tool. (Mac and Windows; price varies depending on how it’s bundled, but the cheapest way to get it is to buy the Adobe Creative Suite at the ISU Bookstore.)
  • Kompozer — Open-source clone of Dreamweaver. Not as powerful or polished as Dreamweaver, but a whole lot cheaper. (Mac, Windows, Linux; Free)
  • TopStyle — Standards-compliant WYSIWYG editor, from the creators of the once-famous HomeSite (Windows; $80, or free “Lite” version)
  • First Page — WYSIWYG editor with free and paid versions. (Windows; Version 2.0 is free, Version 3.0 is $60)

Miscellaneous Programs

  • CSSEdit — Focuses solely on style sheets. “You can edit style sheets for absolutely any site, on- or offline.” (Mac; $39; Free trial)
  • Coda — “One-window web development.” Includes a text editor, FTP client, built-in preview, etc. (Mac; $99; Free trial)