A bad piece of code can ruin your entire day's work. A great HTML editor may help prevent that. In this article, I've taken a look at some applications to help you with HTML coding, and hope to answer the question - what is the best HTML editor?
And I think I got it. These 5 options right here are all worthy the name of the best HTML editor:
- Atom (intuitive, easy to use)
- Brackets (very useful Live Preview option!)
- Komodo Edit (packed with loads of features)
- CoffeeCup (suited for extensive coding projects)
- Adobe Dreamweaver (absolute brilliant - but you need to pay up)
- UltraEdit (very powerful, no monthly subscription)
What are HTML editors?
If you're only just starting, and still have little knowledge of what HTML editors or HTML itself really is, first you need to get up to speed.
HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language is one of the oldest and still most commonly used methods of coding for the internet. Initially released in 1993, the language recently turned 25 and is still going strong. The most recent iteration is HTML5, which came out in 2014 with support for far more multimedia and responsive friendly code.
And simply put, an HTML editor is a tool that allows you to create, edit and track the HTML code you write. You can actually use any text editing tool like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages to create HTML documents, but those tools won't allow you to make sure your code is written correctly.
That's where dedicated editors come in. One of the most important and widely praised features that all of the best HTML editors contain is syntax correction. Syntax correction, in its essence, is like a spellcheck for HTML code. Another common feature is syntax tracking, which highlights distinct parts of the code you write.
This makes it much easier to read, as it classifies different sections line-by-line.
They also commonly allow you to insert or autocomplete the more prevalent HTML elements.
Why You Should Make Use Of An HTML Editor
Just as a writer's job is far easier with the help of spellcheckers and apps like Grammarly, people who code for a living get the same easier experience with an HTML editor.
Everyone makes mistakes here and then, even simple typos can make your HTML documents not work properly. This is why HTML editors are extremely useful!
Plus, although we’re concentrating specifically on an editor’s ability to handle HTML, many editors can handle other languages such as CSS or PHP, giving you more options if you ever want to branch out with your coding and web development skills.
So, What Is The Best HTML Editor?
It's a simple question but ultimately, the answer is not so simple! I'm going to break this down into two sections.
- Free HTML Editors - These are editors you can download for free right now, and get going!
- Paid/Subscription Model HTML Editors - These are by larger companies, often offering more features for a premium price.
Firstly, let's take a look and find out what is the best free HTML editor out there:
Side-Note - All of the HTML editors we will be looking at also have the capability to edit CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), too!
First introduced in beta form in February 2014, Atom editor has quickly grown into one of the best HTML editors available. Their goal is simple:
Our goal is a zero-compromise combination of hackability and usability: an editor that will be welcoming to an elementary school student on their first day learning to code, but also a tool they won’t outgrow as they develop into seasoned hackersAtom.io
Well, in just over 4 years they have done just that. Atom editor is also highly customisable! With over 7,500 installable packages ranging from simple status bar clocks to JSON formatting, you're definitely not going to be left wanting here.
And that's just the beginning, as themes are just as customisable with Atom editor. Over 2,500 themes are out there for download, and these numbers are the official ones from the Atom website, so there are probably even more if you go digging!
Oh, and one thing that isn't entirely relevant but still worth mentioning. Atom's website? Drop. Dead. Gorgeous! Just look:
Coding inside Atom editor is easy, clean and incredibly intuitive. There are not many added thrills built in from the get-go, things like auto-closing tags are missing sadly. However, you do get some incredible options when you head into settings.
These key bindings I especially adore. They are all customisable to your liking and integrate a lot of the automated features that other apps contain. You also have additional features like syntax highlighting, a default source editor and an optional visual editor.
Here is how a typical short test HTML file looks in Atom editor:
The line you see in the centre shows each pane, I like to let the first pane overlap, so I didn't bother disabling it from view, but you can if it is distracting! In this screenshot the following bundled themes are used:
It's the first on our list, yet it is possible we found the best HTML editor already!
Atom editor is available for:
- macOS 10.8 and later
- Windows 7 and later
When searching for the best HTML editor, Brackets is a name you might have already come across. Brackets editor has been around for a while already, after being released back in June 2012. Developed as an open source project by Adobe, it has taken off in recent years and is now widely considered one of the best and fully-featured HTML editors out there.
With focused visual tools and preprocessor support, Brackets is a modern text editor that makes it easy to design in the browser. It's crafted from the ground up for web designers and front-end developers.
And modern it is! The heart of Brackets editor and probably its most important feature is the live preview. This feature will open a new browser window, and update the page according to what you add/edit in the Brackets editor. This is incredibly helpful, especially for new coders who won't be quite sure of how their work will look. With Brackets editor, you can see how it looks as you go!
Some things are not so good, however. Take the settings page below for example:
I'm sure this is really nice and useful for veterans of the coding game, but for a newbie, this would be just overwhelming. Changing true and false values with JSON instead of having simple tick boxes or toggles like Atom does just feels unnecessarily complicated. Like I said though, if you know what you're doing, then this could well be the best HTML editor for you!
With that said, let's take a look at how Brackets editor looks in action! Everything here is the standard theme that Brackets comes with:
Everything looks good here!
Brackets editor is available for:
Komodo Edit is a free version of a premium product known as Komodo IDE (Integrated Development Environment). The free version is the one we'll look at here.
Its initial release was in 2007. Developed by ActiveState, Komodo Edit is a fully formed and very thorough free HTML editor!
Komodo Edit is a great editor if you're looking for something powerful, yet simple.activestate.com/komodo-edit
Komodo Edit offers a similar preview function to Brackets, however, it isn't a live preview. You must save after each edit and then manually click three times through the menu to get to the preview. You can choose to preview in any of your installed browsers or in Komodo Edit itself, though! You can also employ the use of a split screen preview with Komodo Edit.
Talking of fully featured, just check out the settings we have available to us:
Now that is what I'd call feature packed! You can edit things down to a fine tee. Even the hex colour of each different module, line and text scheme. Maybe it is overkill, but it's great to see either way!
Moving onto how the editor looks itself:
Komodo Edit is available for:
- Windows 7 or later
- macOS 10.9 or later
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 or later
- CentOS 6.0 or later
- Fedora 18 or later
- OpenSUSE 13.1 or later
- SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.2 or later
- Ubuntu 12.04 or later
This one is a bit awkward, as they offer a free trial for a paid service. I'll leave it here in the 'free' section for now!
At first glance, CoffeeCup editor might not seem like the best HTML editor out there, with its dated interface and lack of support for any Operating Systems that aren't Windows. However, once you look past the vintage facade, you realise that CoffeeCup HTML editor is an incredibly powerful application.
See what I mean about the design, though? It might be pretty off-putting for a beginner. But at the end of the day, this is coding! It's not supposed to be a pretty process, it's supposed to help you create a pretty end product!
One of the key features employed by CoffeeCup HTML editor is 'The Components Library'. This is basically a time saver for you. When you are making a website, there are certain elements that you might want to keep cohesive throughout different pages. Things like footers or menus come to mind.
With the components library, you are able to save an element in the library once it's coded, and then if you ever want to edit the code, you can just update it from the library version! This will then update all relevant elements automatically. Like I said, a big time saver!
CoffeeCup HTML editor was first released way back in 1996, and from the design, it looks like it has stayed there! That's not the case, though. There are plenty of under the hood improvements being made all the time!
If you want to upgrade to the full version of CoffeeCup Editor, you'll have to pay $49.
CoffeeCup HTML Editor is available for:
- Windows XP or later
Best Editors For A Price!
Now we'll take a look at a couple of the best HTML editors that money can buy.
Adobe Dreamweaver has been around for quite some time, since 1997, in fact! Since the initial release, it has been one of the best and most trusted HTML editors available. It's fully featured and created by Adobe, so you have plenty of help and support options if you can't figure something out.
Features of Adobe Dreamweaver include:
- Support for Bootstrap 4
- PHP 7 Support
- HTML and CSS Preprocessing
- Modern UI
- Elegant themes
- The ability to see what a tag will look like by just highlighting it
Dreamweaver comes with everything you'd expect from a high-end, premium application created by Adobe. Live previews, plenty of themes and very thorough help options.
This obviously comes with a catch. And that catch is the price. Since Adobe moved all of their products to a subscription-based 'Creative Cloud' pricing model, you can't actually just go out and buy Adobe Dreamweaver.
You can only buy the subscription. And for Dreamweaver, that means paying $20.99 per month for an annual plan, or a whopping $31.49 per month if you want the flexibility to cancel whenever you need to.
Overall, despite Dreamweaver being a fantastic application, I don't believe it is worth the massive price tag, the pain of being locked into a subscription model, or the title of Best HTML Editor, especially when free editors like Brackets editor and Atom editor aren't very far behind!
Adobe Dreamweaver is available on:
UltraEdit, created in 1994 by the founder of IDM Computer Solutions, is a code editor that encompasses HTML editing and PHP editing. There are many features packed into UltraEdit making it one of the most complete HTML editors available!
The search function is particularly cool. It allows you to very quickly and easily locate any instances of code you wish to check or edit.
Themes are included, but not many, around 10 out of the box. These are all pretty nice though!
Here's how our HTML code looks inside UltraEdit. There are plenty of options up on the top bar, which makes navigation really simple and easy. Also, I really love how the indent of each line works with UltraEdit. You can easily go to the settings panel and change the size of the indent too!
As with Adobe Dreamweaver, UltraEdit is only free for a limited time, then you'll have to purchase it. However, with UltraEdit, you just pay once and that's it, you have your app and any future updates!
Here's how it costs:
- UltraEdit - macOS, Windows & Linux versions
- Free upgrade to the next release
- Unlimited tech support
- UC Pro for free (Powerful file/folder/spreadsheet comparison tool)
- Up to 3 unique installations
So, all in all, a full package! I actually prefer using UltraEdit to Dreamweaver for the simple fact that UltraEdit has such a great search function, not to mention that in the long run, it's far cheaper.
In Conclusion - What Is The Best HTML Editor?
There are so many options to choose from when deciding on your first or next HTML editor, this article has barely scratched the surface! However, I feel that the best options are the ones you see above.
Personally, I feel like Atom is the best option for almost everyone, and certainly for beginners. It's my HTML editor of choice for any personal projects I have for the simple reason that it just works, and is very nice on the eye too!
If you're after a more integrated or full-featured experience, then Komodo Edit would be a fantastic option too. I'd say that unless you really need 24/7 support and a big repertoire of support options, then it's not really worth paying for your HTML editor. Simply because the free ones are just so good these days!
So all in all, the best HTML editor is the one you end up creating the sites of your dreams on. Whether it's Dreamweaver or Brackets, Atom or UltraEdit, if you have the dedication and patience, you'll be well on your way to becoming a master coder any day now!