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    Web development tools

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    Compare the various web development tools available. What are some advantages and disadvantages of these tools?

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    When writing to an HTML standard, make sure to use the one most appropriate to your needs. If you don't need any extended features, or expect to have a lot of visitors with very old browsers, you may want to follow HTML 2.0 compliance. Most currently updated browsers have support for HTML 3.2, so it is generally the best to use if you want to use features not in HTML 2.0 (don't forget to plan for graceful degradation - see "Graceful Degradation" section below). If you need some of the newest features of HTML, like frames, HTML 4.0 is what you should use, but remember that most browsers do not support most of the new features included in HTML 4.0 yet, and you should setup your pages to degrade gracefully.

    Accessible Design Tools
    It is almost always best to use a text-based editor rather than a graphical editor. There are cases in which a graphical editor may be necessary, but if you can use a text-based editor, you have a lot more control over the accessibility of your site.

    Graphical Tools
    Choose an editor which doesn't rewrite your code without your permission (FrontPage for example is a major culprit for this), that creates pages based on standards (and preferably allows you to specify which standards you are targetting), and that allows you to take advantage of the standard accessibility features of HTML, such as ALT and NOFRAMES.

    Make sure to run your pages through a validator (see, "Web Site Testing" section below) at least the first times even if the program has a built in checker, since the checker that is built in may not be thorough, and you can't really tell without running a comparison check. Also, I recommend against using the graphical editors distributed by the major browser vendors (Netscape's Composer and Microsoft's FrontPage) as they tend to have a bias towards coding for their own browser. If you can give me some information on which tools are good and which should be avoided, please let me know. If you must use a graphical editor which produces poor HTML, it is highly recommended to use HTML Tidy to clean it up before posting or editing it by hand.

    * Amaya (W3C, Windows and Unix)
    "Amaya is the name of W3C's own test-bed browser/authoring tool and is used to demonstrate and test many of the new developments in Web protocols and data formats. Given the very fast moving nature of Web technology, Amaya has a central role to play. It is versatile and extensible - new features can be easily added - and is available on both Unix and Windows '95/NT platforms. Amaya is a complete web browsing and authoring environment and comes equipped with a WYSIWYG style of interface, similar to that of the most popular commercial browsers. With such an interface, users do not need to know the HTML or CSS languages."

    * Adobe GoLive (Adobe/GoLive, Mac and Windows)
    Adobe GoLive is a complete web design tool and site management package. Some of the features which make it useful for accessible site design are: the ability to target for specified HTML or browser versions, the fairly clean and valid code it generally produces, the HTML checker, the included scripts (for Javascript and DHTML) which are designed to ...