Merry Christmas Bleg

Merry Christmas to you. As for me, all I want for Christmas is…

…a very simple WYSIWYG HTML editor. Why can’t I find one?

I spend most of my days writing blog entries. Mostly it’s just text inside <p> tags, although I also use a lot of <blockquote>, plus of course <em>, <br>, and the occasional <strike> or <ul>. A few blog entries will incorporate images. And then every couple of weeks I want to put together a table.

If I really wanted to, I could hand-code all this stuff in a text editor — well, all of it except the tables, anyway, where a WYSIWYG editor is invaluable. But I’m not the kind of geek who loves to look at code: I’m much happier looking at something which more or less resembles what it is I’m trying to write. Plus hand-coding hyperlinks is always a bore, and I’m perfectly happy to leave it to my HTML editor to remember what all my special characters are in HTML.

Then, once it’s written, I want to be able to copy and paste the raw HTML into a web interface in order to publish it. How hard can that be?

I have tried out a few HTML editors. Some, like MarsEdit, are ridiculously bare-bones: they’re basically text editors with blog-publishing features. Others are designed for people putting together complicated websites, and are great at creating stylesheets and beautiful pages and whatnot, but are really bad at generating ultrasimple HTML. Others, like KompoZer and GoodPage, also fall short of what I want.

SeaMonkey is not even close: for one thing, it seems impossible to use it to generate simple <p> or <blockquote> tags. Any HTML editor which automatically gives <br><br> instead of nice <p></p> should be shot, IMHO, and anything which gives <p style=”text-indent:20pt;> instead of <blockquote> is simply perverse.

I use ecto quite a lot, and I like it, especially its way of auto-populating the hyperlink field if you have a URL in your clipboard. But it suffers from a couple of problems: you can’t create a table in it, and it has an incredibly annoying habit of slapping an http:// onto the beginning of anything you put in a hyperlink, even if you don’t want one there.

Now there is a program which does everything I want: it’s called Dreamweaver, it costs $400, and it also does a gazillion things I don’t want. But is there some other app I can use without going down the ridiculously-overspecced Dreamweaver road?

Update: Many thanks to my commenters, and to Brad DeLong for bringing my bleg to a wider audience. Brad recommends Markdown, which isn’t really wysiwyg and which doesn’t do tables. David and gek both recommend Windows applications, but I don’t have Windows. And Ivan points me to Contribute, which I didn’t know about, and which would probably be perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that it steadfastly refuses to let you see your own HTML — in order to do that, you have to open your page in another application entirely, like KompoZer. So maybe the Contribute-KompoZer combo is what I need, but it’s a bit unwieldy, and I’m not sure that the Contribute bit of it is really worth $149.

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5 Responses to Merry Christmas Bleg

  1. gek says:

    Try Windows Live Writer. It’s only for blog posting, but it’s excellent and free. It deals with every single thing you mentioned above, and does it well. You do have to be running Windows though.

  2. Ivan says:

    Dreamweaver has a baby sibling, Contribute. Maybe worth checking out.

  3. David says:

    I saw your post on Brad deLong’s journal and just realized it would do much more good to post the response here instead 🙂

    Taking the liberty to copy-paste it. I did not include how to extract the HTML code: just open the .html file with notepad and copy it. (and remember to change the reference URL for the equation images, if you use any)

    Microsoft Word 2007: Save as -> Webpage, filtered

    The filtered version has much shorter code, but some office features require it to be saved as a normal webpage. I’m not quite sure what features need it though.

    Formatted tables, center (without having to set tables) – even the formula editor work just fine. It saves the formula as an image and puts it in a folder where you save the website.

    Even easier for people using one of the major blog sites – publish -> blog takes care of that.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Rhian says:

    while I have no idea what WYSIWYG stands for, I think I want what you want, and probably need it far more than you do (since I don’t even know what WYSIWYG means) and felt all overcome with hopefulness as I read your entry… waiting for the answer… and now am all boggled up again by the responses and debates both here and on deLong’s page.

    So.. for us simpletons, have you found a solution that makes you happy and you care to share?

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