WYSIWYG Web Editors: Conclusion
Mike Slocombe for Internet Magazine, May 2004
WYSIWYG editors have helped make life considerably easier for web authors struggling to keep up with ever-changing technologies, and it's good to see that all of the WYSIWYG editors on this test proved themselves capable of outputting solid, standards-compliant code.
But as the WYSIWYG editors try to cover more and more ground, the interfaces inevitably become more complex - and balancing ease of use with hugely expanded feature sets can prove a tricky compromise.
Although WYSIWYG editors provide the means to build compelling websites straight out of the box, inexperienced users without any hands-on experience of HTML may soon become unstuck when problems arise.
That's why it's important to stress that a good grounding in HTML and CSS - at the very least - is still essential for any serious web author, regardless of whether they're knocking sites out in FrontPage or Notepad.
Moreover, anyone looking for a career in web design will be expected to know their way around the HTML block too, because if you understand the code that makes up the page, you can find and fix problems quicker.
It's very tempting to go with the template flow, especially when they're as attractive as the ones provided with Net Objects Fusion, but if you're looking to create an original site, it's important to break away from the mould.
Almost all of the WYSIWYG editors in this test give you access to the raw code, and it's worth experimenting with this code to create a more individual identity. After all, it's important that your site reflects the originality and character of you or your company!
Adobe's GoLive CS is a much-improved product, and an excellent choice for anyone working in an Adobe print-based environment.
Although FrontPage can't match GoLive CS or Dreamweaver for power or features, crucially it undercuts them both by a considerable margin. This may prove persuasive to authors on a tight budget who don't need all the high-end bells and whistles.
Net Objects Fusion is the odd one out in so much as it's positively determined to shield authors from any HTML. For small businesses keen to set up shop online with no fuss, it's a bargain, but creatives and HTML gurus may be driven mad by the lack of access to the code.
Of all the WYSIWYG editors on test, Dreamweaver served up the most powerful and seductive combination of features and usability on offer, and it's no surprise that it's emerged as the leader in this group test.
But those features come at a hefty price, which is way out of the reach of many home users.
We threw in AceHTML to remind you that it's not the software that builds the site - it's the author.
Spend a little time learning HTML and there's no reason why you can't knock out a site to rival anything produced by the more expensive programs above.
So if you're budget's too tight to mention, that doesn't mean you can't compete with the rest.
You'll just have to do it a bit slower, that's all!