Thursday, September 28, 2006

HTML Editing - First Page HTML Editing - First Page

I am a programmer at heart, and most of the tools available for editing and debugging HTML and Javascript are aimed at people who don't want to really know what is going on. I am a programmer at heart, and I do want to know such. So, imagine my dismay in finding that the Mozilla Composer would automatically screw up the nice formatting that I had done to my HTML code, removing leading blanks (for indention, stupid), and inserting unsightly blank lines at what seems like random places. Most of the HTML tools are not much better.

A couple of years ago, I discovered 1st Page (2000) by Evrsoft. It was pretty crude, but gave me almost everything I wanted. On a typical day, I will use it a couple times, if for no other reason than to format blog posts and comments. It also provides a nice means of interactively debgging HTML and Javascript in "Preview" mode - though it uses the IE engine, and not Gecko. You can then have it submit your unsaved code to browsers of your choice for further testing. It also has a nice "Reference" mode that can be activated in a context sensitive manner. It provides a very thorough and easily accessed reference for HTML and CSS.

Awhile back, I tried installing 1st Page level 2.x. It was nice, but wasn't free, and didn't add that much. Imagine my pleasant surpise to find 1st Page 3.0, and that so far, at least, I haven't been asked to pay for it. Most of the older features are in it, but it has cleaned up the interface a bit. It now also provides a nice project interface. For heavy HTML editing, I will most likely primarily use it in the future, while using the level 1.0 version for light editing.

However, it does have a couple of places where it falls down:
  • It seems a lot bigger, taking significantly more time to load than the earlier version.

  • It still has the problem of losing button bar changes that the older version does.

  • I can't figure out how to activate the Java parser for editing Javascript. You used to be able to manually override the choice of a parser for a given file.

  • I am still struggling with making DIV and BLOCKQUOTE work correctly.

  • You can't mix "Hard Core" and "Expert" modes. In the older version, you could have both sets of buttons available, and sometimes the Hard Core pull down menus were extremely useful, in, for example, inserting blockquotes and divisions.
But it does have some nice new features:
  • Project mode (as mentioned above)

  • Integration with Mozilla - you can pick either IE or Mozilla OR BOTH for your previewing.

  • Many more useful buttons to put on the button bars.

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