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Ask Slashdot: Best Open Source Answer to Dreamweaver? 300

Posted by timothy
from the there-should-be-one-called-vision-quest dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've been looking for an open source alternative to Dreamweaver, and haven't stumbled upon anything that works the way I need. Aptana and Bluefish are fantastic tools, but I cannot work exclusively with them, since Bluefish doesn't have that WYSIWYG functionality that is so important when you're also dealing with design, and Aptana doesn't have classic ASP support. I don't care much about the classic ASP support, but, even though I'm a PHP developer, I give support to classic ASP code on a daily basis. What open source tools are you guys working with out there? I'm really not looking for a Dreamweaver clone, just a tool that gets closer to cover my needs: WYSIWYG, PHP, HTML, CSS support, and less important, classic ASP support."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Open Source Answer to Dreamweaver?

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  • KompoZer (Score:5, Informative)

    by symes (835608) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:23AM (#38724024) Journal

    Is quite nice, not sure if it meets your ASP needs though

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:24AM (#38724032)

    Just a comment on WYSIWYG, I'd recommend opting for the browser instead. I've found that most tools that put a WYSIWYG mode into their UI end up mis-implementing parts of the rendering engine, and you end up opening 3-4 different browsers to figure out javascript and css "bugs" (more like oddities in how the browsers render code) anyway. It's convenient for simple things, but if you're doing anything sufficiently complex on the front-end, there's no substitute for good old fashioned cross browser compatibility testing.

  • BlueGriffon (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:26AM (#38724060)

    BlueGriffon [bluegriffon.org], developed by the guy who gave us Nvu is well worth a look. It's a free open source WYSIWYG HTML editor.

  • Amaya (Score:4, Informative)

    by smitty777 (1612557) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:30AM (#38724120) Journal

    You should definitely try Amaya [w3.org]

  • I'm starting a django project and have decided to try and use Eclipse. I'm a newb with that dev platform so am not sure if it will meet all your reqs. The plugins are quite extensive though.

    • I would not really recommend Eclipse. I used it for a few months at my webdev job, and it was really buggy. Also, AFAIK, it does not have WYSIWYG.
      • by erktrek (473476)

        Thanks for the heads up!!

        Will investigate this further - don't want to make a mess of a project even messier. For us wysiwyg is not all that critical. Eclipse seems to have some nice team oriented features and is (possibly) a standardized tool that can be used for django (python), straight python & postgresql dev.

        There does appear to be a commercial plugin "MyEclipse" or something but that's not what was asked about I guess.

        Otherwise I've used the non-wysiwyg bluefish.. I notice there's also the "Aloha

        • Eclipse is good for plugins generally, and its integrated SVN is pretty good. Still, I saved myself a lot of rage when switching to Komodo and just using Tortoise SVN.
  • No such animal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:31AM (#38724160)

    It has been years since I checked, but I don't think there is such an animals.

    Last time I asked I got pointed to html/text editors and got a pious sermon about how I didn't really need a WYSIWYG editor.

    I didn't, but when the web designer for my company showed me what his work was like I was convinced that he could use a text/HTML editor, but it would take him 5 times as long to do his job.

    That is the problem with the OSS community....developers working without a layer of people who are willing to listen to users to find out what they need instead of arrogantly telling them what they will find useful.

    • Re:No such animal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FictionPimp (712802) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:43AM (#38724304) Homepage

      I couldn't imagine how you could keep your code to any real standard and keep it readable while using WYSIWYG product. On top of that, modern websites use javascript and dynamic content all of which those editors just don't handle.

      A better solution is a nice theme and a nice CMS system.

    • Re:No such animal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dejanc (1528235) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:44AM (#38724316)

      I didn't, but when the web designer for my company showed me what his work was like I was convinced that he could use a text/HTML editor, but it would take him 5 times as long to do his job.

      That is the problem with the OSS community....developers working without a layer of people who are willing to listen to users to find out what they need instead of arrogantly telling them what they will find useful.

      Most web designers don't go near HTML/CSS. The workflow is that usually designers produce their work in Photoshop. CSS folks then produce (X)HTML/CSS templates which are later implemented into the web application / CMS. Even those designers who do both usually don't actually design in their browser.

    • Re:No such animal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lahvak (69490) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:44AM (#38724326) Homepage Journal

      Traditionally, people wrote free software that they themselves found useful. A developer would decide he or she does not like any existing html editors, so they would write a new one. They would release it as free software, since they were not interested in marketing it, and getting feedback and code contributions from users was more valuable for them than getting money for the product. That's how what you call OSS community works. If a developer is telling you "you don't need a wysiwyg editor", what they are really saying is "I don't need a wysiwyg editor, I believe you don't either, but if you think otherwise, go and write one." They are not being arrogant, they are trying to be helpful. You are the arrogant one, for thinking everybody has to write the software you find useful, and give it to you for free.

      • What you wrote is true, but it left out how people from different OSS projects gripe when their software gets abandoned for software that appeals to users.

        They may give a pious speech about how their software is for their own satisfaction only, but they get upset when users criticize it or abandon it for something more useful.

        • by lahvak (69490)

          C'est possible. People will be people, and their random personality quirks will be, well, random. I personally never experienced that, but as they say, YMMV.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Anyone who thinks a non-WYSIWYG editor is as efficient as a good WYSIWYG editor should try laying out a complex table in one sometime. Sure, WYSIWYG code isn't as clean as doing it by hand, but you can't beat it as a timesaver (when your boss wants it done yesterday and doesn't give a shit whether your code is clean as a whistle or not).

      • You are repeating a basic point I was trying to make in my comment which you replied to. I think you may have done it better.

        Someone who makes only a few html files a week can afford to be an esthetic purist, scrupulously arranging tags with a text editor.

        That doesn't work so well for design professional cranking out tons of screens a week.

        It would be like a writer putting several magazine articles a week, while insisting on on manually putting in the MS Word or OO writer formatting tags manually, instead

        • Re:No such animal? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @11:25AM (#38724922) Homepage Journal

          Now now, if all you are doing is static HTML for some Mom and Pop store, your point *might* be valid. But websites done for money nowadays rarely are straight HTML. All have some CMS on the server, mostly PHP or JSP, and there no WYSISYG software dares to tread. Dreamweaver is hopeless when trying to make a Drupal theme or modify a Magento web shop.

          If WYSIWYG has a place, it's in letting designers crank out prototypes. One man shops are better off investing in something like Coda for Mac OS X (I know, it's not open source, but it has served me well) or Eclipse or BBEdit. That, and complex tables really should be avoided unless you are presenting an actual table. CSS layout is what matters. Relying on a WYSIWYG editor will leave your site looking clunky and bloated.

          As for your assertion that no one looks at the underyling code? I do, all the time. Especially when debugging/refactoring my own. ;)

          • Saint Fnordius;

            You are completely right. The combination of CSS and CMS in modern web sites should greatly reduce the amount of tags.

            That is if everyone is doing everything in a modern and common sense way. That is often not the case in professional design work or programming.

            I had a job with a company that still relied on foxpro for their production deliverable. They were getting paid real money too.

            Designers also make mockups, with many, MANY files. In that situation a WYSIWYG app like Dreamweaver wi

        • by Geeky (90998)

          Someone who makes only a few html files a week can afford to be an esthetic purist, scrupulously arranging tags with a text editor.

          That doesn't work so well for design professional cranking out tons of screens a week.

          Noone should be doing that. They should be using a CMS of some sort, so that the design is configured and set once, and once only, and all they have to do is type the content in.

          The designers create the layout, then either implement it or get it implemented in the CMS of choice. End content creators then come along and type up the content.

          I very much doubt if the major news sites have someone cranking out new screens for every article - the content will be in a database and the system will pull it out and f

    • Re:No such animal? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by webheaded (997188) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @01:10PM (#38726424) Homepage
      I'm going to tag a little on to this just to agree. There simply is no equivalent to Dreamweaver in OSS. Nothing holds a candle to it. I feel like I'm sounding like an Adobe salesman in this topic, but honestly...it's a really well made tool. If it worked in Linux, it would be even more perfect. I've used MANY MANY OSS tools for web development and they all kind of suck as a replacement for Dreamweaver. No, I don't want a glorified code editor. No I don't want a tool that gives me like 2 options for formatting text. I basically want Dreamweaver and that's sort of what the op needs to recognize. You don't want something like Dreamweaver...you want Dreamweaver. The interface is perfect, the code cleaner than 90% of the WYSIWYG editors out there, and the code editing window is very well done.

      It really is disappointing that no one has an answer to Dreamweaver though. I've been searching for an alternative for years. Every once in a while I get a wild hair up my ass and go on another hunt and usually come up empty handed. Yes, there are some great tools out there...but they just aren't at the same level. You can't really complain though because like the other guy said...OSS developers are making the tools that they want to use. Not what you want to use.

      I will say though that I'm getting tired of the snobbishness in this topic. There are uses for these editors that don't involve the user being an idiot that doesn't know how to code. I've been doing it almost 14 years and I still use the editors because they make certain things much easier and bring the whole thing together for me. Yes, I could do every single thing by hand, but that would be a waste of time. I'm not getting superior code for making tables and bolding text when I do it by hand. The people that zealously believe that are just being assholes. There are some things that you need to code by hand so that your code is not a giant shit cake, but a surprising amount of this stuff can be done rather efficiently with the GUI in Dreamweaver. It is easier to select a cell class from a drop-down than it is to remember and type in the extra " class='fancytableclass'>" into your code window. It just is. Especially since I usually do the structure of the page first and then style it afterwards.

      The editors have their place for a competent web designer but they've gotten a bad name because they are easily used by people that don't know what they are doing to make very very bad looking websites. These editors are a phenomenal tool for someone that is doing coding and designing at the same time. It helps me do these things a lot quicker than I could otherwise. It's not a matter of not knowing how to code...I'm well versed in HTML and CSS...it's a matter of it doing its job well when used by people who know what they are doing.
  • Design in the browser and use Sublime Text 2 it's free to use but you can buy a license and it supports most any language.
  • by jperl (1453911) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:32AM (#38724166)
    For 8 years now I use eclipse for all my web development. With additional plugins development is pretty easy and I have never ever thought of using Dreamweaver again. I am pretty sure that there will be a plugin for ASP support too.
  • ... I have no opinion, for lack of knowledge. One of my best friends, however, regularly builds websites for advertisement campaigns. He *swears* by Dreamweaver, maintaining there is no real good replacement or alternative. And his requirement #1 is, you guessed it: WYSIWYG.
  • by dejanc (1528235) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:35AM (#38724192)

    I'm on the server side of web development, but HTML/CSS gurus I work with mostly use Firebug for all their WYSIWYG needs. They need to test in plethora of browsers and produce high-quality code, so relying on any individual IDE for visual design would be impossible.

    That being said, maybe take a look at Komodo Edit (choice of many HTML/CSS coders I know), or figure out how zen coding works by trying it with one of the supported editors here [google.com].

    P.S. What I am trying to say: if you are serious about your work, you don't need WYSIWYG. Even if you are a hobbyist, you don't need it.

    • If WYSIWYG is out as a requirement, I, too, would plug Komodo. I moved to that after a few frustrating months on Eclipse.
    • I think you hit the nail on the head: when html authors talk of WYSIWYG editors, what they really mean is a way to do real-time tweaking of CSS, or use a console to debug the JavaScript. And even Dreamweaver pales in comparison to using Firebug.

    • by asylumx (881307)

      if you are serious about your work, you don't need WYSIWYG

      If you are serious about getting to work, you don't need a car.
      If you are serious about walking, you don't need shoes.
      If you are serious about math, you don't need a calculator

      Ya, it's all true, but that doesn't mean it's not useful (or even desirable).

  • by chipperdog (169552)
    I would recommend using vi, or the graphical gvim for creating static web pages...Instead of WYSIWYG, teach structured documents - which is what HTML and CSS designed for...
  • If you are using KDE, Quanta Plus might be an option: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quanta_Plus [wikipedia.org]
    • I'll second the recommendation of quanta...I use it for HTML, CSS, PHP, PERL, and C/C++ development
    • Unfortunately Quanta Plus is dying from neglect. the current full version 3.5 was coded for KDE3 and as of Ubuntu 11.10 has been dropped from ther repositories.

      Quanta 4 has been locked in development beta for years with out much support to bring what is done out in a stable form. And also it is not the same Quanta as 3 as it has become a module of the Kdevelop4 platform, so I am unsure whether WYSIWYG support still exists.

      Yeah, I too really like Quanta Plus, but whit it becoming harder to get with new Lin

    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      If you are using KDE, ...

      Just a guess, but I'm going to say that if the OP is looking for an alternative to Dreamweaver, he is not using KDE.

  • WYSIWYG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:44AM (#38724330)
    There's no such thing as a good WYSIWYG any more. Unless there's something out there that will generate previews using Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari all in the same tool, and that tool is also an IDE that you're looking for.

    Find a good text editor or PHP IDE and use tools like Chrome DOM Inspector or Firebug for Firefox to tweak your CSS and view its results in real-time.
    • by tgd (2822)

      There's no such thing as a good WYSIWYG any more. Unless there's something out there that will generate previews using Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari all in the same tool, and that tool is also an IDE that you're looking for.

      Find a good text editor or PHP IDE and use tools like Chrome DOM Inspector or Firebug for Firefox to tweak your CSS and view its results in real-time.

      I know its sort of taboo to mention it here, but Microsoft's Expression Studio Pro does that -- its both text, contextual and WYSIWYG editing for HTML, ASP, Silverlight, Javascript debugging, etc ... and it has a feature "SuperPreview" that does some pretty nifty things including alpha blending the results of the various browsers so you can see exactly how each browser lays things out differently. I'm not sure it does Chrome.

      Anyway, its not open source, and its not cheap, but a couple hundred bucks to save

  • Question: why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kiwimate (458274) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @10:45AM (#38724338) Journal

    I've been looking for an open source alternative to Dreamweaver, and haven't stumbled upon anything that works the way I need.

    You've given a couple of criteria, but the question that I think needs to be asked/answered is why are you looking for an alternative? Is it for ideological reasons, or are you hoping for a cheaper product, or does Dreamweaver not measure up somehow, or...? Knowing the answer to that question could take the discussion on a different path.

    This question crops up a lot on Slashdot ("I want an open source alternative to ...") and it always generates some interesting discussions, along with mentions of products that may be new to people, and that's good. But it often seems (or is blindingly obvious) that the questioner is really just looking for an open source product "because I want to support open source". And that's fine as far as it goes, but at some point you have to go with "the best tool for the job is abc".

    Depending on your context, "best" may change. For some people, the most important criterion is it's affordable. Open source sometimes meets that requirement better than closed source. But just realize that if you go for open source software just because it's open source, you may get something that's inferior in terms of feature set, ease of use, or other measures. If it's for personal use, and you're okay with that, dandy. If it's for business use, however, and you're trying to proselytize, this may not be the way to do it.

    To each their own.

  • Trust me, unless you are a die hard philosophical "open source or nothing" kind of guy, you're a lot better off spending a little money. Open source HTML/PHP editors are a goddamned mess. I've always gotten a lot better results (in that particular genre at least) by spending a little money.

  • The only real reason to use Dreamweaver is because it's far and away the best css editor on the market, in my opinion. It has a lot of asp/php code generation in it, but you're not going to find that anywhere. There was a code generator called Codecharge that was pretty good, had the code generation, but I didn't like the wysiwyg on it. If you want a pretty good css editor, there's Amaya from the W3c. It's clunkier than Dreamweaver, but it uses a lot of the same parts. If you like the css editor in Dreamwe
  • Use Notepad++ and have a web server running on your local machine. Code, refresh, code, refresh. Dreamweaver was a dead-end evolutionary branch of web development.
  • by james_van (2241758) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @11:25AM (#38724910)
    but it bears repeating - WYSIWYG IS BAD. Learn to write HTML, it's very easy. I know, I know, I'm bordering on flamebait here, but I'm gonna say it anyway. And I'll readily admit that Dreamweaver's WYSIWYG helped me quite a bit when I was learning HTML, but most editors that use WYSIWYG have quirky implementations and don't render quite the way a real browser will. I ended up spending more time troubleshooting and digging through generated code trying to make things work than I would have it I had just sucked it up, put on my big boy pants and wrote my own code. It's fine for a beginner as a tool to help learn, but nothing more. If you have a dual monitor setup, open a browser on one screen and the editor (if you insist on open-source, I recommend Notepad++) in the other, and every time you make a change in the editor, hit refresh in the browser. I promise, if you take the time to learn HTML properly and invest a little time and energy up front, it will be well worth it in the end. --Potential DBag comment-- I own a small web dev shop, if you walked in and applied (even as a "designer") and you couldn't hand code basic HTML/CSS and needed a WYSIWYG editor to do your work, I would drop your resume in the trash on the spot. I don't expect designers to be code masters, but in this day and age, there is absolutely no reason why a designer shouldn't be able to take their images and turn them into decent HTML. --End DBag comment--
  • by Anonymous Coward

    While I DO have Dreamweaver at the office, I myself don't use the WYSIWYG portion of it. I have a dev server running that I do all my visual testing on, and do the rest of my coding by hand. I've developed sites for smaller individuals as well as larger clients, such as hospitals. At home I use Geany, and find it's code editor to be superb (and the console integration in the Linux version makes it almost completely unnecessary to alt-tab away from the software).

    What you might want to consider is adjustin

  • BlueGriffon (Score:5, Informative)

    by PineHall (206441) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @11:29AM (#38724984)
    BlueGriffon [bluegriffon.org] is another editor that does HTML5, CSS3, SVG, and MathML. It is also extendable. Not exactly what you are looking for but what you want may not exist. Anyway you might want to check out BlueGriffon too.
  • by pz (113803) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @11:29AM (#38724994) Journal

    Open source is great. I use open source tools whenever possible, but only up to a point. My productivity is more important, because, ultimately, that is what my livelihood, and my family's well-being, is based upon. When a professional-grade open source tool is available, I'll use it preferentially. I'll even *buy* it or make contributions to the developer.

    Now, in my experience, Adobe makes excellent products. Really, quite very excellent, and the open-source alternatives are far behind. When I'm still at a level for some task where I'm just screwing around, then open-source grade tools are fine. When I've risen to the level of getting paid for doing that task, and Adobe's asking $300 for a tool that will radically increase either my productivity or the quality of my work product, or both, then that's money well spent (and, depending on circumstance, also a tax deductable expense in the US). Heck, $300 is only a fraction of a billable day. For a highly useful tool? That's an expense hardly worth debating.

    Just buy Dreamweaver. If you're being cheap, then find a used copy that's one version old (ie, CS4) on eBay or Craigslist, and somehow justify the extra time to buy that rather than just ordering Dreamweaver immediately.

  • You could even edit your source live inside chrome, if you want.
    Its not drag and drop, but for me thats not an issue as the actual layout is CSS (which is NOT drag & drop) and Images (which are provided as URLS to CSS).

    I still don't understand what good Dreamweaver is to people besides designers that can not (or do not want to) program.
    I am not trolling and would love some serious replies: i believe so firmly what i said in this post, i wonder what i forgot that other people want!?

  • "NO". And I hereby put this answer in the public domain.
  • Anybody check OSALT? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CCarrot (1562079) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @01:01PM (#38726318)

    I don't know if I've seen this site posted here before, but has anybody checked the Open Source Alternatives site, www.osalt.com? Sure, they're not always totally up-to-date, but the do accept software suggestions if your favourite application is missing from the list...

    They also only identify open source alternatives, not freeware alternatives (e.g., Paint.NET is not listed as an alternative to Photoshop, since it is simple freeware now and no longer open source). This can be a good thing or an annoying thing, depending on your goals (I use Paint.NET because it's a helluva program, despite not being OS any longer, and the user base/plugin support is amazing).

    From the Dreamweaver page [osalt.com], alternative options include:
    Quanta Plus 3.5
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    For quick and effortless web development - Quanta Plus is steadily becoming a worthwhile competitor to the commercial web editors on the market. Quanta Plus's features include multi-document... Read more
    Aptana 2
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    Aptana is an html/javascript editor, however, it does not provide any WYSIWYG feature - but it is still an amazing editor with many advanced features. Aptana is intended for people developing dynamic... Read more
    Bluefish 1.0
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    Eventhough Bluefish is not a WYSIWYG editor - it is still considered a strong tool, however, mainly for experienced web developers/designers. Has support for unicode - and provides wizards for -... Read more
    Mozilla SeaMonkey 2.0
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    SeaMonkey settles all of your internet application needs in own package. Its a web-browser, email and newsgroup client, HTML authoring program and IRC chat client all-in-one. In most areas -... Read more
    Amaya 10
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    Amaya, developed by W3C, is a web editor/browser that creates and updates documents directly on your website. W3C (WWW Consortium) needed a framework that could include as many of their technologies... Read more
    Nvu 1.0
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    Nvu is a web development system primarily developed for Linux but is now also available for windows and mac. The project aims to be an open source alternative for the major commercial web authoring... Read more
    KompoZer 0.7.7
    Available for: windows mac linux unix java
    Kompozer is an open source web development tool built on NVU. The project strives to fix bugs in the NVU project and added new features to it. Both the HTML editor as well as the CSS editor has so... Read more

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @01:29PM (#38726710) Homepage

    Dreamweaver used to be excellent until the CSS clowns went and mucked up HTML. Dreamweaver 3 really was WYSIWYG, worked on pure HTML, and didn't require knowing HTML. Dreamweaver today has a display window and an HTML window, and you need to work in both, plus fuss explicitly with CSS values in other windows. It's still quite useful.

    In the post-CSS era, almost nobody has decent round-trip HTML editors. Instead, we have "content management systems" which generate bad HTML in bulk, and can't read what they write. This is the main source of web page bloat.

    The open source alternatives listed are far worse. I've tried Nvu. They had the right idea, but couldn't keep up with the changes to HTML. Also, there's a difference between an single-page HTML editor and something like Dreamweaver, which manages files for the whole site.

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