Fab freebies

While I often concentrate on commercial applications, many of the technologies the Internet itself is based on stem from open-source projects. Until recently, many of these free technologies were hard to use.

In this column, I'll take a look at six programs or applets (some of which are on the Cover Disc) that combine decent features with a well-designed user interface. Free WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Web editors are not as common as text editors. This area of the market is generally served by budget apps that offer more handholding for novices.

Nvu 1.0

Nvu (www.nvu.com or on the Cover Disc of the August 2006 issue of PC World Magazine) is an open-source program - available for Linux, Mac OS and Windows - that was developed from the Mozilla suite - see figure 1. It offers decent scope for both beginners and slightly more experienced designers.

You can switch between WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and code views from within the program. It includes a number of impressive features. Elements such as a CSS (cascading style sheet) editor, markup cleaner and templates are welcome. This application certainly won't cause Adobe to lose much sleep, but its features are superior to other free visual editors such as Mozilla Composer.

AceHTML

If you're confident with code, AceHTML is one of the best free applications - see figure 2. It provides an HTML-syntax checker and, although such checks aren't available for other scripting languages - such as PHP and Javascript - it colour codes them for ease of use.

The program provides a library of 175 Java and DHTML scripts that can be dragged-and-dropped into a page, as well as a style-sheet editor and plenty of graphics. For serious developers, I'd recommend upgrading to the pro version for (about $120), it includes better support for a variety of scripting languages - code completion and syntax checking - and stronger management tools. The freeware release is a strong program, though (< a href="http://software.visicommedia.com/en/products/acehtmlfreeware">http://software.visicommedia.com/en/products/acehtmlfreeware/ or on the Cover Disc of the August 2006 issue of PC World Magazine).

Evrsoft First Page 2006

A solid Web-editing package, First Page 2006 includes support for XML, and scripting languages such as ASP and ColdFusion. It has a fully integrated CSS editor.

The only drawback is that to unlock some of these features you need to upgrade to the Pro version. Nonetheless, the download available from Evrsoft is a highly competent HTML editor (www.evrsoft.com or the Cover Disc of the August 2006 issue of PC World Magazine).

DHTML Menu Generator

One feature that appears on a number of Web sites is a dynamic HTML menu, which can slide into place on your browser, with rollover links. This applet from the Evrsoft developer Web site allows you to set colours for an animated menu and provide entries for links on your site. When you've edited links in your navbar, simply click the Create button and copy code into your page (http://developers.evrsoft.com/toolsdhtml- menu-generator.shtml).

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Jason Whittaker

PC Advisor (UK)
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