Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software The Internet

Free or Open Source Web Design Program? 108

Posted by Cliff
from the wonder-if-elves-will-get-into-web-design dept.
TheZorch asks: "I'm looking for a good Freeware or Open Source web design program. Right now, I use Web Dwarf but its features are a little limited. I love the ability to put text and graphics wherever I want, which is also how Dreamweaver works. The main problem with Web Dwarf is that I can't insert Macromedia Flash items onto a web page. I've tried Mozilla's web page composer, FrontPage Express, and OpenOffice. None give me the freedom to do what I want to be able to do. The program has to be FREE, no adware, no turned off features until you buy it, and I have to be able to format the page freestyle similar to how Dreamweaver and Web Dwarf work. Can you recommend one for me?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Free or Open Source Web Design Program?

Comments Filter:
  • best tool (Score:5, Funny)

    by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:31PM (#13883394) Journal

    vim

    • I personally prefer gvim over vim : )

      NVU btw isn't that bad either however if you MUST have a wysiwyg editor.
      • Re:best tool (Score:4, Informative)

        by Eric Giguere (42863) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:43PM (#13883492) Homepage Journal
        Nvu [nvu.com] (note spelling) is indeed a great program. It's an open source project that supports Linux, Win32 and Mac OS X [nvu.com]. You can use it in a WYSIWYG mode or you can edit the source of the page directly. Besides being free, it also includes support for editing CSS styles (including external style sheets) [memwg.com], a must for building sites today. Plus you can get extensions that add neat new features. Definitely worth a look.

        Eric
        Invisible Fence Guide [ericgiguere.com] (CSS to make it fancy is still coming...)
        • Re:best tool (Score:4, Informative)

          by fean (212516) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @04:02PM (#13883637) Homepage
          nVu may be a great tool, but it is severly limited... it re-writes code, has a horrible local/remote interface, and has many many many features to implement before it can even think about replacing frontpage, much less Notepad or Dreamweaver.

          That said, I highly recommend you try it, hopefully it's limitations aren't specific to your application. nVu is somewhat patchy, so some users may have everything they need, while others (like me), can't do a thing (the re-write code thing is HUGE)

          • Re:best tool (Score:4, Informative)

            by Eric Giguere (42863) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @04:14PM (#13883736) Homepage Journal
            It's true, there are limitations. For one thing, Nvu is really about editing single pages, one at a time, not about creating "projects" of pages. And yes, there are other problems, like the way it rewrites references to external JavaScript when you publish the page up to the website. I don't find the code rewriting to be too bad if you turn on the option to retain the original formatting, though.

            Of course, because it's an actively-supported open source project, there's always hope that these bugs will be fixed over time. (Well, not sure about the file-oriented nature, that seems architectural... not that it's necessarily bad, I actually like working that way...)

            Nvu is particularly excellent for someone just getting started with building web pages, which is why I recommended its use in my book. And the price is right for most people!

            Eric
    • No you fool,

      emacs!

      </troll>

      --LWM
    • Everyone always says emacs, or VI, and sometimes vim.

      Am I the ONLY person in the world that uses pico/nano DAILY?

      It's notepad for me!

      Lets me search, cut, paste, has line numbers... and when using putty I can copy/paste even better. (hmm, better copy... yeah, that's accurate)
      • "Am I the ONLY person in the world that uses pico/nano DAILY?"

        Yes you are. You're also a weenie.
      • I too prefer pico, and use it daily.
      • I use nano/pico all the time! It's small, fast, has NO learning curve, and perfect for editing small files, which is 90% of all I ever edit anyway.
      • you're the only person to publicly mention that you use it ...

        Bugger it says I, nano is one of the first things that gets installed onto my machines :)
        • yeah, lately pico doesn't get installed anymore (CentOS) so the first thing I do is either symlink or alias nano to pico...

          The only issue I ever run into is nano can't handle the number pad on the keyboard. At least not over putty. I get "[ NumLock glitch detected. Keypad will malfunction with NumLock off ]" and it won't type numbers. Pico has no problems with the number pad.
    • Despite how funny the parent post has been mod'ed, Vim, and Emacs as well, become very powerful when used on a very regular basis; there is just so much more that can be done with keyboard shortcuts and macros (macros set up via keyboard input and not openning window after window and then typing something in). In fact, just this morning I literally saved myself thousands of keystrokes by using Vim macros on a project of mine.

      Especially if your job depends on it like it can with *nix webserver support a

  • netbeans it if u wanna stay to JSP. for ASP and stuff theres no open source alternative.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:35PM (#13883424) Homepage Journal
    What is the constriction preventing the use of commercial software?
    • Shhhhh...You'll disturb the groupthink! Slashdot can't stand people who don't go with groupthink!
    • How is the parent a Troll? The poster provided absolutely no reason for why it has to be FREE (or even what kind of free was implied, my guess is $$$ since they were looking for a tool, not a library or other) and it's an important thing to know.
      • In my opinion, I think it was the subject line, but the problem is that I thought there is some truth to the sentiment when I wrote it, and I still do. My thinking is that someone wants the advanced features found in a $400 program, but is willing to pay $0 to get it.

        While I think OSS is a great thing as it offers more choices, but I simply don't think it is necessarily capable of solving all problems in the best possible way.
        • It is capable of eliminating the ability to sell software without source code for a profit, and will do so in time. Some of us don't buy closed-source software because we consider it immoral to so do, barring some overriding need, and are willing to pay in money, features and even time in order to avoid it.
          • " Some of us don't buy closed-source software because we consider it immoral to so do, barring some overriding need..."

            Ah, situational ethics.

            Sorry, folks; if it's immoral, it's always immoral. You may decide to do something immoral when you think it's justified, but it's still immoral. Killing is immoral. Killing someone who is trying to blow up a busload of children is immoral, but (in my worldview, anyway) justified. If you find closed-source software immoral, fine. That's your right, and I respect
            • If you consider defending victims against murder to be immoral, I think your vocabulary is very idiosyncratic. There is nothing immoral about using deadly force to prevent a deadly crime. If I were to refuse to save a life because I would have to use proprietary software to do it, that would be immoral.

          • Some of us don't buy closed-source software because we consider it immoral to so do,

            Buying closed source software is IMMORAL?!?! I've just gotta hear the reasoning behind that...

            I have a very hard time believing that I'm going to burn in hell for eternity as a result of stopping by CompUSA and picking up a copy of Quicken.
    • Not every seasoned web developer in their mid-30's can spare $200 or so for web development software. Oh, wait, err, nevermind.
    • What is the constriction preventing the use of commercial software?

      That would be money.
    • What is the constriction [google.com]preventing the use of commercial software?

      I was worried for a moment but I believe you mean constraint.
    • New rule (Score:3, Insightful)

      by booch (4157)
      Here's a thought. Anyone asking for free (as in beer) software should explain WHY they think they are entitled to software at no cost. For example: they've contributed significantly to the community, they're running a non-profit for underpriveleged youth, or Mommy hasn't given them their allowance this week.

      As other posters pointed out, you can't realistically expect a $0 program to be equivalent to a $1000 program. You have to be willing to give something up. Sometimes if you've contributed to the communit
      • Re:New rule (Score:3, Insightful)

        by skryche (26871)
        Entitlement? What the hell are you talking about? That's the great thing about free software: everyone's entitled to it!

        “As other posters pointed out, you can't realistically expect a $0 program to be equivalent to a $1000 program.”

        “Equivalent” is too tricky a word to argue with, but Apache and Linux easily compete with $1000 products.

        • I won't argue with the fact that Apache and Linux are competitive with (and in many ways better than) expensive proprietary programs. But in many ways, they are GIFTS to the community. And you shouldn't expect people to give you gifts. Even the hard-core Free Software folks don't necessarily believe software should be no-cost; just that people be free to modify it and share it. (The no-cost falls out of the sharing bit.)
  • bluefish and nvu (Score:4, Informative)

    by ubiquitin (28396) * on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:35PM (#13883427) Homepage Journal
    Two to consider are:

    bluefish [openoffice.nl] which is available for MacOSX [darwinports.com]
    and nvu [nvu.com] which is also available for MacOSX [darwinports.com].

    • by grub (11606)

      re: your sig, THANKS! Abortion pictures are cool. Makes me want toast for dunking.
    • I use NVU when I'm feeling lazy. Best open source web development would be to open yourself to learning html. I know where you are coming from though. Dreamweaver is nice. I installed it with cxoffice on Linux. Really though everything that you can do with it can be done with a text editor if you know what you are doing. Plus you'll actually have more control over it. It is easier to use Dreamweaver or something like it. It also numbs your brain to solving simple problems when they occur
      NVU is a good ope
    • Re:bluefish and nvu (Score:2, Informative)

      by TheZorch (925979)
      It looks like Nvu is what I'm looking for. Thanks for the help. The reason why I can't use commercial software is due to a lack of funds. I'm on a restricted budget right now and I need a good web design program but can't buy one.
  • Can you recommend one for me?

    What Operating System are you using? This makes a big difference... there are dozens of free/OSS web development apps for Linux, but there are only a handful which run on Windows. Not sure about MacOSX.

    You mentioned "Frontpage", so presumably you are running on Windows. But you need to be more clear.
  • it has to be said... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by anderiv (176875) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:44PM (#13883497)
    I love the ability to put text and graphics wherever I want

    Hrm - sounds like vim [vim.org] would be the ticket. ;-)

    All joking aside - my understanding of html/css has shot up through the roof since I ditched Dreamweaver and started coding by hand. Code cleanliness has also improved greatly, as you'd expect. If you've never tried, give yourself a week with a text editor and a good html/css book. It's quite freeing to not have to worry about anything other than the code. No application updates, no program idiosyncracies to deal with, etc.
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:44PM (#13883501) Homepage
    Newsforge ran a story about web development tools.They approach it as "web development tools for Linux," but most are available for win32 and OS X. I have almost no experience with commercial web development tools (except when trying to tidy up their ugly code). I use content management systems/wikis/etc. where possible (so others can add content & no one need worry about the code or an editor) & a text editor (vim!) when not. That being said, Bluefish, Quanta, and Nvu are all nice. All of these options are discussed in the NF article, as is Screem, which I haven't seen first-hand.
    • With Links (Score:5, Informative)

      by Noksagt (69097) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:49PM (#13883532) Homepage
      Forgot the link to the article...have included all relevants links in this one.

      Linux.com ran a story about web development tools. [linux.com]They approach it as "web development tools for Linux," but most are available for win32 and OS X. I have almost no experience with commercial web development tools (except when trying to tidy up their ugly code). I use content management systems/wikis/etc. where possible (so others can add content & no one need worry about the code or an editor) & a text editor () when not. That being said, [vim.org]Bluefish, [openoffice.nl] Quanta, [sourceforge.net] and Nvu [nvu.com] are all nice. All of these options are discussed in the article, as is Screem, [screem.org] which I haven't seen first-hand.
    • I'd fully recommend Quanta [kdewebdev.org]. It is hands down the best that I've used. I used to think that Dreamweaver couldn't be beat, but quanta does it all very well and has a great interface. I'd say give it a shot if at all possible and try to give it a full day or two and read the docs. This is one Open Source project that has good docs.
  • nvu (Score:3, Informative)

    by mshiltonj (220311) <mshiltonj@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:45PM (#13883503) Homepage Journal
    nvu.com [nvu.com]
  • Do you NEED Flash? (Score:4, Informative)

    by crimethinker (721591) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:47PM (#13883514)
    The main problem with Web Dwarf is that I can't insert Macromedia Flash items onto a web page.

    You say that like it's a problem.

    I know, I know, I've got that "I know what's best" attitude that everybody loves to hate, but really, Flash is a craptastic piece of software, known mainly for bloating download times, making it impossible to bookmark a specific page, and generally being annoying. ("Punch the fucking idiotic monkey and win a piece of spyware!") Not to mention that it OWNZ0RZ screen-readers that blind or nearly-blind people use.

    Seriously re-evaluate your requirements. Do you really *NEED* Flash?

    -paul

    • I hear you, comrade. Flash is a major component of what's wrong with the web.
    • by Bastian (66383) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @04:05PM (#13883654)
      Seriously. I have a 300kbit internet connection (not as fast as standard cable modem service, but faster than 2/3 of Americans), and I hit the "stop" button and take my surfing somewhere else when I encounter Flash sites. I'm sick of the load times. I'm sick of the craptacular web design that seems to be endemic to Flash websites. I'm sick of overdone Flash sites that run poorly on my three-year-old computer. I'm sick of Flash sites bitching that I don't have the latest version installed. I'm sick of sites with text that's too small to read and that I can't make larger because they did the text rendering with Flash. I'm sick of sites that force me to make my browser window larger when I'm using a small window or that only fill a small portion of the window when I'm using a large browser window because Flash sites run one size and one size only.

      Businesses that have Flash-based websites with no non-Flash option usually lose my business. I won't even stick around to see the sales pitch. I'll go find a competitor who didn't start their relationship with me by annoying me with some animation-rich but content-deprived piece of self-absorbed fluff.

      Flash is for Homestar Runner, not overdesigned menu sets and half-implmeneted-and-mostly-broken re-implementations of things that are already built into HTML such as the button and the scroll bar. It's a toy for web designers who think their primary job responsibility is mucking around with Flash, not making websites that don't suck.
      • by dubl-u (51156) *
        Flash is for Homestar Runner, not overdesigned menu sets and half-implmeneted-and-mostly-broken re-implementations of things that are already built into HTML such as the button and the scroll bar.

        It doesn't make useless sites workable, but if you just want to stop being annoyed by intrusive multimedia, there's a great solution [mozdev.org].
      • Why don't you not view the site *and* not bitch about it to everybody here as if we gave a crap? Then everybody would be happy.
      • I couldn't have said it better myself! Flash blows. Period. I avoid it like fresh cowpiles. Businesses that use it lose out twice with me. I don't buy from them, and they had to buy the horrid product.

      • You are describing poor system architecture. You said it yourself, "Flash is for Homestar Runner..."

        That is to say, Flash has a use, it's just not being used correctly in many cases. You could say the same about java. I mean, applets...hello? A 200k download to display a scrolling news bar?

        Everything you describe is a symptom of poor design, not of the Flash environment. Sorry to say, but a little motion gets people's attention, and can be used to illustrate information that would otherwise be one-dimension
      • When people hear flash, they always complain that flash sites are horrible. I'm sorry, but implementing flash is sometimes the only way to get something done. A designer will know flash more often to perform a certain animation task, more often than they will know how to implement it in DHTML.

        Also, if you were building a learning / online drawing program, or needed to include modules of a game, flash is going to do it better right now than DHTML, and probably it will be more supported by the browsers, eve
    • Inserting a piece of flash on a page is FAR DIFFERENT imho than designing an entire site with it.
    • Another plus-point for not having Flash: I've been unable to afford Flash for quite some time (plus Macromedia's licensing is completely counterproductive in some cases). From that limitation alone, I've learned to do ten times as much in HTML/CSS/JS than I would have if I could just whip it up in Flash. Although there're no vectors or synchronized sound, you can do quite a few interesting and rich "unweblike" interfaces using just the core web languages.
    • Not that I am for the heavy use of flash in websites but they have improved accessibility in its latest versions... "Flash content created with versions 5 and earlier is not accessible. However, Macromedia has integrated support for Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) into Flash MX, released in early 2002. MSAA serves as a bridge between Macromedia Flash Player and assistive technologies such as screen readers. To help designers and developers create accessible Macromedia Flash content, a new Accessibili
    • For that matter, what's to stop the original post from dropping in a sized image as a placeholder, then copying and pasting in an embed or object tag in its place? I mean, if the app is generating the layout for an object (image in this case), it really doesn't take rocket science to do a search and replace...
    • I sure as heck don't need flash, and recomend alternatives where possible, but when it comes down to it if the customer wants flash that's what they are going to get. Although with CSS, DHTML, Javascript and AJAX going the direction that they are, flash use in common web apps is becoming more obsolete by the day. Macromedia's suite is hands down the best there is out there for flash however... it's a good thing it runs under Crossover Office.
    • Flash is a craptastic piece of software, known mainly for bloating download times, making it impossible to bookmark a specific page, and generally being annoying.

      That and for ending up with pages in which no less than seven separately moving, flashing, blinking, and twirling imagescan all dance around on your screen as each advertisement uses it.

      You could cause an epileptic seizure with something like that. (No, I'm not kidding.)
    • I agreee.

      Any webmonkey who lacks the intelligence and skill to say "Hrmm... this software won't let me place Flash on the page - maybe I should put in a filler image & then link in the Flash by hand later" shouldn't be allowed to use Flash in the first place.
  • Freeware (Score:3, Informative)

    by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:50PM (#13883542) Journal
    All the good open source programs have already been mentioned. Here's something from the other side of the camp:
    ASP.Net WebMatrix [asp.net]

    I never used the thing beyond the first day I tried it, but some people may find it useful. I use text editors for all my serious web development.
    • Its actually a pretty fair little tool if you're working with .Not. I've used it a bit, although I generally prefer to use gvim, Dreamweaver or HTML-Kit when on windows. I think that if I used more ASP though, I would use it more seriously.

      On a related note, though, it has one of the best online helps/docs for the .Net class hierarchy :)
    • I agree and you don't have to be doing anything related to .NET to use it and get standard code as it will do compliant code just fine. I used to work professionally, especially on database-driven web designs, and have pretty much every tool imaginable and a more than a few out of any reasonable price range here and frankly ASP.NET WebMatrix is a sweet little tool. The documentation, the fact that you can get a free Wrox Press book on it, and the sheer amount of code on the ASP.NET web site are all pluses
  • I'd suggest Jedit for any platform with Java support, or HTML-Kit if you use Windows, and want some different features.

    Handcoding is the way to go, in my opinion. You can supplement your work with IDEs such as dreamweaver, but do NOT rely on them. If you can't develop a website in an efficient manner by hand, you need practice.

  • I'll probably get ripped a new one for recommending something M$ but if you're coding anything in .NET, the Web Matrix is pretty good.

    http://www.asp.net/ [asp.net]

  • I use emacs, nvu, (not free) textpad, and homesite. I haven't had any rewrite issues with nvu, but I also haven't had to much tuning of what it generates. Homesite I have had to do a bunch of reformatting with to get the code to my level of comfort and readibility. Emacs, or any other straight-up text editor with syntax highliting is still my preferred way of creating pages and sites.
  • Not to sound like an elitist snob, but you say "None give me the freedom to do what I want to be able to do" and the fact is, the rules of how HTML arranges things on a page are not that hard to learn. Coding by hand gives you absolute control over what goes where.

    Of course, in the process, you may learn that what you're used to building is not how HTML should be written in the first place, but that's a whole other issue. Get over the idea that you can control exactly how it looks on everyone's screen. Ever
    • Well, it won't look ok anywhere without testing. CSS and JavaScript vary wildly (IE is the worst by a long shot, though I've come across quite a few inconsistencies between Gecko browsers and KHTML browsers too).
  • emacs sgml-mode (Score:3, Interesting)

    by namekuseijin (604504) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @04:40PM (#13883966)
    Nothing beats it in handling sgml-based content, like html or xml. It's not WYSIWYG: it's powerful.

    As for Flash: dump the old thing and embrace an SVG + XForms future...
    • As for Flash: dump the old thing and embrace an SVG + XForms future...

      If only browser manufacturers would. As it stands, it seems to be a perpetual "future" just past the horizon.
  • Are you a professional web developer? Then use a text editor. Sheesh. A web developer who can't handle plain text HTML, CSS, Javascript and some sort of shell scripting, is about as silly as a software developer who can't handle C/C++ and make.

    <elitism>
    • by HappyDrgn (142428)
      Are you a professional web developer? Then use a text editor.

      Are you serious? I can't remember the last time I sat down with a professional and had them open a terminal with VI or whatever. Professional web developers are hardly the static HTML page designers of the early 90's. Sure for a personal site, a couple pages, a text editor would work fine. But these days professionals develop code in PHP, ASP.NET, CFML and Java. Professionals write websites like Amazon, Google, MSN and CNN. These websites
      • If you think Google was written with Dreamweaver, please share whatever you've been smoking.
        • Did I mention Dreamweaver? No, that's because Dreamweaver is not an IDE, it's a beefed up HTML editor that contains none of the functions one would expect from an IDE. Was Google written with Dreamweaver? I doubt it, but I'm willing to bet it was written using the programs I *did* mention. I'll still share what I've been smoking with you however.
    • And I have to ask the same of you.

      "Are YOU a PROFESSIONAL web developer?"

      I like hand coding, I like the freedom it gives me. I like knowing that my code is properly 'generated' and conforming. I DONT like that it can take so long. I DONT like that it is easy to make bad mistakes. I DONT like having to wade through code to correct said mistakes after I've validated the code.

      Yes, a PROFESSIONAL web developer should have the appropriate WebFu skills. Running dev teams I have no patience for alleged dev
      • I want my bookkeeper to know how to do long division. He may use Quicken instead of paper and pencil to crunch my numbers, but damnit, if he can't do long division, I don't want him near my money!

        It's the same thing with professional web developers. I don't care what tools they use, as long as they *know* HTML, CSS, scripting, etc. But I've actually met "professional" web developers that didn't know HTML.
        • That is not what you said. You mad an assumption about the OP and byt your tone and approach determined that a REAL DEVELOPER would use nothing but a text editor. I was refuting that as patently barking.

          I also have met alleged 'pros' who couldn't tell a tag from a headbut on the keyboard and have deep sixed more than a few when I've taken over the teams. I am rabit about W3C standards.

          Your second paragraph of your reply was much more sensible and had you said it in the first place, I doubt you would have ha
    • <elitism>
      You forgot to close your tag.

      </elitism>

      Welcome,R.

  • I seem to recall there is a comptetitor to Dreamweaver based on QT called Screem. I'm not too sure how easily it would be to run it on windows.
    I know there's a linux emulator for windows but I forget the name.
    ANyway, I remember it as being really quite nice to use, interface close to dreamweaver, but without the obvious proprietary integration of flash and all that Macromedia jazz. You can still include flash animations though, unless my memory is failing.
    Hope this gives you a start.
  • use placeholders for your flash content, they do a find and replace or some such method to switch them out for testing...

    Even in Dreamweaver it's not like you get a preview of your flash content... it shows you a grey box with the flash icon, not very useful for anything really, so what's the point? Flash itself exports all the html that you need for embedding your object and it does it better than any other tool.

    So... just drop a jpeg comp of your flash object in the layout and do a find/replace when previ
  • by neves (324086)
    See all kde webdev [kdewebdev.org] package. Quanta is the best html editor.
  • Its free, and works with IIS.

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

Working...