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Tools of the HTML Trade

OK, confession time. My first HTML editor was MS Front Page 98. That was a few years ago, I had no experience with HTML and had to have something that I could use instantly. It worked, sort of. Tags were inconsistantly moved around, nested and occasionally garbled. Those pages would never have passed the W3 HTML Validator; they have since disappeared, and that is probably a good thing.

The second program I used was HotMetalPro made by SoftQuad. That was a good solid editor and the way it worked allowed me to learn HTML. It is no longer being updated or I'd probably still be using it. SoftQuad now makes XMetal which is considerably more expensive and beyond my budget.

So I looked to the W3 Consortium to see what might be available at little or no cost. HTML-Kit from Chami is the best editor I have found. It incorporates a little tool called HTML-Tidy which finds errors and fixes them. It is pretty good, but a few goofs will slip by.

The remaining errors I catch with jEdit, an open source programming editor. It has some neat features, useful plug-ins and handles several languages. I decided to convert my site to XHTML and then I truly began to see the beauty of the "Error List." When I open a file in jEdit and see nothing underlined in red and no errors in the error list I know my pages are valid.

Error-free HTML keeps my pages accessible. There's something neat about clean code, it's like the look of crisp, carefully knitted lace.

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