Website Builders

by Martin Malden

When I first got into Internet Marketing I took a course on how to build minisites.  That course introduced me to KompoZer, a free, open source HTML Editor.

When I started building my first websites I still didn’t know much about HTML and absolutely nothing about CSS.  But, using KompoZer’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) functionality, which requires no HTML knowledge, I was able to build sites with KompoZer, which I did successfully until earlier this year.

By earlier this year, however, I had become much more familiar with HTML and decided that I would learn CSS, so I did.  And I changed the way I used KompoZer.

I stopped using the WYSIWYG interface and started hand coding my sites.  KompoZer is CSS compliant, so I’m able to create a stylesheet from within KompoZer and then do my work in the ‘source’ view.

And that’s when my problems started.

I would create a page in the source view, check it, publish it and even update and re-publish it a few times.  Then, for absolutely no apparent reason, I would update some text (not touching any coding or formatting) and it would delete all my META data.  BOOM, gone!

Actually, everything between the HEAD and /HEAD tags, so that included the link to my stylesheet.

This problem occurs totally randomly.  And on some of my sites it hasn’t occurred at all.  Yet!

After trolling around a few forums I’ve come to understand that KompoZer is a great HTML editor.  As long as you use it in the way in which it was intended (i.e. using the WYSIWYG interface) it will create fully compliant HTML code and you’ll have no problems.

However, if you try to do your work in the source view, and hand code your pages, there are some bugs.

I’m not fully sure why these bugs occur, but I believe it’s something to do with KompoZer’s function of creating valid HTML code from what you enter into the WYSIWYG interface.

Apparently it also tries to do some validation when you work in the source view and if you’ve got something there that it doesn’t like, or understand, you’re in trouble!

Anyway, I tried the Handcoder Extension and found I still had the same problem:

Yesterday morning I wanted to add a short paragraph to one of my pages.  So I called up KompoZer, opened the file, went into source view, added the paragraph, saved…  And BAM! Everything between the head tags was obliterated!

So, fed up with this apparently un-fixable bug and not wanting to go back to using the WYSIWYG interface, I trolled the web for a new website builder.

And found CoffeeCup.

Now, I only found CoffeeCup yesterday, but I installed it and tried out a few things, including editing some of the pages on which I’d previously had problems with KompoZer.  And, so far, it looks great – everything works perfectly.

CoffeeCup costs $49, but you can download a free trial version to try it out.

It’s a different beast from KompoZer, because it’s designed more for those who want to hand code their sites.It does have what it calls a Visual editor (equivalent to KompoZer’s WYSIWYG interface) which allows you to create sites without using HTML or CSS.  I haven’t tried the Visual view, so I can’t report back on that.

But my point is this: if you’re new to site building and aren’t familiar with HTML and CSS, then KompoZer is a great site builder (and it’s free).

However, once you want to spread your wings a bit and start doing some hand coding, then you may want to check out something like CoffeeCup.

Or, as I’ve mentioned before, you could go with WordPress.

By the way, while I was doing my searching yesterday I also came across a neat little application called TopStyle Lite.  This is a CSS editor and it creates your CSS code from selections you make from a menu and saves it in an external stylesheet file.  It’s free and, again, it works great (so far!).

Anyway, I’m going to continue with these two tools and I’ll let you know how things work out.

What’s your preferred website builder?

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