What Web Site Editing Software Should I Use?

Perhaps the most common question I get is "which web editing software should I use"?  The answer to that question depends heavily on a lot of factors:

  • Which operating system (Windows, Macintosh or Linux) do you prefer?
  • Are you more of a GUI person or a command-line person?
  • Do you prefer to "roll your own", or do you prefer "wizard-style" programs?

Use Drupal

I strongly recommend you use Drupal to edit BSOE web sites.  As of January 2010, there are approximately 200 BSOE web sites using the Drupal software.  We have lots of staff and students trained on the software, and I provide regular security and feature updates to Drupal as part of my daily responsibilities.  Drupal can even be installed on your personal BSOE web site if you choose.  Drupal is free software, and I support it for all BSOE-related web sites as part of my job here at the BSOE.  When you choose Drupal, I will install the software for you, configure it, give you an introductory lesson in how to use Drupal, and provide support as far as installing module and themes to suit your needs goes.

Windows and Macintosh GUI Users

If you really can't use Drupal, by far the two most common Windows web editing programs are Adobe Contribute and Adobe Dreamweaver.  Contribute is better if you are doing just a few web pages (for your personal web site or a class web page, for example).  Dreamweaver is more suited if you have been tasked with creating a whole web site, as in for an academic department or research effort.  Both of these programs costs money - about $35 for Contribute and about $95 for Dreamweaver for academic licenses - and neither license fee is covered by the BSOE (which is to say: you'll have to buy them yourself, or get the person who charged you with creating a web page/web site to buy them for you).  Be forewarned that I can only provide rudimentary support for either of these software packages, so if you choose one of them you will be largely on your own as far as getting familiar with using them.

Command-Line Linux, Windows Notepad and Macintosh TextEdit Users

For users who prefer to use programs like Notepad, TextEdit, Pico or Vi, editing you web page is as easy as editing your HTML files using the text editor of your choice.  You will need to learn some HTML to take this route.  I am able to provide some introductory information about editing HTML files.  This is a decent route to take for editing personal web pages, as it is completely free.  You still may need an image editing software package such as Adobe Photoshop (not free) or Gimp (free) to edit image files.

You should be aware that editing HTML is something of an art form and can take a long time to master.  There's a difference between making a single web page by hand in HTML and making an entire web site, and the amount of work you have to do increases significantly as you add more complexity to your site.

GUI Linux Users

If you are a Linux user and prefer to use X-Windows based applications, I don't have a lot of advice for you.  I have not yet found an HTML editing tool that runs in X-Windows (but to be honest, I haven't spent much time looking either).  If you are a GUI Linux user and have a recommendation about which HTML editing tool might work well in X-Windows, please e-mail webmaster@soe.ucsc.edu and I'll include your recommendation here.