Free Web Development Solutions (PHP/CSS/HTML Editors)

The importance of text editors as the tools to edit HTML, CSS, PHP, or any other web programming language, may seem to decline today in the era of Joomla, WordPress, and other content management systems, which make designing a full-featured website a matter of dragging a few widgets onto a web page layout, pasting a few articles into it, and one-click activation of one of the hundreds of themes available out there. However, moving a little bit deeper into web design, to the level which is commonly referred to as web programming, one can still find many opportunities to use traditional manual coding, where a PHP/HTML editor remains the first and the key handy tool to be used by a web programmer. Furthermore, many of such tools have evolved significantly from being simple text-editor-like applications into complete solutions for working on all the components of the modern website: design, layout, and scripts.

What’s the point of manual coding if today it is possible to build a website using a powerful CMS with no worries about tags, attributes, and events? Well, answering this question is worth a separate article. We will only say that while there is truly no need to reinvent the wheel, but when it goes about web design, people do not always want to use one and the same wheel on every web site. Everyone wants to make his own wheel unique and specific; and there are only two ways to achieve that: either you create your own wheel (=web design) from the scratch, or you just pimp up or customize the wheel already created by others. Both ways require a PHP/CSS/HTML editor as the main instrument and the main environment for all the necessary coding to be done.

Below we will list and provide very short descriptions of some of the free solutions for web development from basic PHP, CSS, and HTML editors to complete IDE solutions for you to be able to orientate among the available options and make a well-considered choice, which will suit your individual web building needs and abilities.

Basic PHP/HTML/CSS Editors

Microsoft Notepad

Well, actually, it is a joke :-) While Notepad can really be used to write an HTML, PHP, or any other programming code and save the file in appropriate format, today it would look like using an abacus at the checkout counter in Walmart.

Notepad++

This one is serious. By default this simple editor can distinguish about 50 different programming languages, including PHP, HTML, JavaScript, C++ etc., offering users certain visual aids while coding in a particular language.

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor

HTML Editor from CoffeeCup is an example of a decent HTML editor with built-in FTP, tables, fonts, frames, and even HTML5 and CSS3 support in the latest version as advertised on the official web site. However, it is only a free version of their commercial product, so be ready that some advanced features and even not that advanced such as visual editor will not be available in the free version.

Kompozer

Kompozer is a pretty simple yet impressively powerful tool for HTML and CSS editing. The tool is ready to go after downloading and unzipping and contains FTP client, source code and visual editor, CSS editor, and a bunch of other handy tools, like color picker, tabbed layout, support of tables, forms, etc.

SeaMonkey

Seamonkey is not an HTML editor in its traditional understanding. It is rather a web kit, where a page editor is only one part of it, others being Internet browser, email client, feed reader, and IRC chat.

Amaya

Amaya is a web development tool from W3C, an international consortium responsible for the development and implementation of standards for the World Wide Web. Support validated HTML and CSS languages.

Nvu

Nvu is a free HTML editor that was created with the simplicity in mind. Developers underline its visual editor capabilities, thus targeting Nvu editor for enthusiasts of web design, who do not have deep understanding of HTML, PHP, CGI, or other web programming languages.

Advanced PHP/HTML/CSS Editors and IDEs

Context Editor

Context is a powerful text editor to work with multiple programming languages, including but not limited to HTML, PHP, CSS, Java, Perl, Delphi. Just download the highlighter file for a particular language you work with, and your tool is ready.

Aptana Studio 2

Aptana Studio is a complete solution for building web sites and web applications. Along with editing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript pages, the application offers debugging functionality, integration with JavaScript libraries, file transfer, and live preview.

NetBeans IDE

Cross platform and open-source IDE for creating web, desktop, enterprise, and mobile applications, using Java, PHP, Ajax, Ruby, Groovy and Grails, and C/C++. HTML and CSS languages are natively supported.

jEdit

jEdit offers highlighting for over 130 programming languages. With the help of multiple plugins, one can easily customize the editor to suit the particular needs of web development. The program runs on any platform with Java support.

CodeLobster

Free PHP/HTML/CSS/JavaScript IDE solution for Windows users with a complete set of features, including highlighting, auto-complete, PHP debugger, SQL auto-complete, and other useful features.

Dev-PHP

Dev-PHP is an example of the integrated development environment, where one can create web scripts and applications, using PHP programming language.

Geany

Geany is a basic-featured IDE with support of C, Java, PHP, HTML, Perl, Pascal, and others. The application offers tags highlighting, auto-closing of HTML tags, built-in system for code compilation and execution. A number of plugins are also available.

Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit is a great complete solution for web authoring, which allows to edit not only HTML and CSS, but also JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python, XML, and Tcl programming codes. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, this is an example of a free yet professional cross-platform editor for web development.

BlueFish

With its roots in Linux, Bluefish is now available for Windows too. It offers sophisticated approach to coding with auto-completion, automatic tag closing, and multiple web programming languages (C/C++, HTML, Java, JavaScript, JSP, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Shell, SQL, XML) support for professional web developers, and, at the same time, simple-to-use wizards for the enthusiasts of web design.

Alleycode

Once named among the best freebies on the net, Alleycode is a great PHP/CSS/HTML editor with the focus on efficiency and actual web developer needs. In addition to HTML, it allows to edit PHP and CSS, plus a couple of tools for SEO improvement of the site under development. This one is, definitely, worth of trying.

Finalizing our list of free PHP/CSS/HTML editors, it is necessary to say that while all of them are some analogues of the commercial products, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, none of them is a competitor of the commercial web developing platforms. Their core advantage is their free license. Furthermore, you may not simply need all the features offered by commercial products. So, why don’t you give a try to a free solution first? Besides, some of them offer really impressive functionality and tools for professional web developing. After all, we are using free Firefox, OpenOffice, or Ubuntu; so, why cannot a good web development application be free and vice versa?

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Mykola Stepanyuk

After trying myself in multiple spheres, I have decided that the bigger part of my soul clearly votes for the humanitarian sciences and art. Thus, following the call of my soul and mind I received the University education and now I am fully involved in multiple web activities. I am deeply interested in the novel web technologies, design, content development and management, optimization and marketing.

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