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WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

WYSIWYG programs are known as visual editors because what is shown on the screen closely resembles what appears on the Web. It is almost impossible to get a perfect representation of what a page looks like on the Web because of the many browsers and how they translate mark up into visuals.

Such software is useful for people who need to see what the design looks like without having to open the page in the browser after every little change to the code. The drawback, however, is extra and unnecessary code such programs generate. The more code in a file, the longer it takes to load. One of the easiest to use and learn is Microsoft FrontPage because of its similarities to Microsoft Word's interface. Unfortunately, FrontPage is one of the worse culprits in generating extra code.

This is an abbreviated list of the more popular programs:

  • XStandard — This application is a standards-compliant plug-in WYSIWYG editor that is integrated into Windows and Web-based content management systems. Its editor outputs XHTML Strict or 1.1, uses CSS for formatting, and separates content from presentation.

  • Alleycode HTML Editor — Free HTML editor that comes with the ability to display both the code and design. Alleycode includes a CSS wizard, meta tag optimizer for keeping meta content accurate and search-engine friendly, and PHP support.

  • DHE Editor — A WYSIWYG editor that falls between FrontPage and Dreamweaver in terms of complexity. FrontPage is probably easier than DHE Editor because of its similarities to Word and other Microsoft programs, which reduces the learning curve. Not everyone is ready to plunk down cash for Dreamweaver, though it's powerful and has great CSS support.

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver – Macromedia's software continues to gain fans having been around for a long time and adds minimal extra code compared to its visual editor competitors. Its latest version provides more CSS support. (Figure 4)

  • Figure 4Figure 4

  • Adobe GoLive – Adobe's entry has a following because of its popular Photoshop and Illustrator software. Designers used to the latter two products use GoLive because of their familiarity with the interface and Adobe style. There's talk that GoLive is going away.

  • Microsoft FrontPage – Microsoft's HTML editor is popular because it comes included with some computer packages and it's reasonably priced for the small business. However, it has a reputation of adding a lot of unnecessary code even in its newest version.