Recently I got an email from a student wanting to know what HTML (web design) software to purchase for his new computer. Since this is a common question among students I thought I would go into detail on the topic.

One of the great things about web development is so much of it is open source, meaning you don’t have to spend any money to get started. There are a lot of great free resources for web development, as for
HTML editors here are some of my top choices:

  • TextWrangler ( this is a MAC only editor and features color coding and file comparison. It’s simple but effective and easy to use.
  • Notepad++ ( this editor is for Windows only and has a few more features than TextWrangler. It’s a really good editor and one we use in the classroom.
  • Adobe Brackets ( because so many developers hate all the bad coding and extra garbage that Adobe Dreamweaver creates, Adobe has started an open source software called Adobe Brackets, which is basically all the good bits of Dreamweaver. Because it’s open source though, it is being developed by a lot of volunteers, and even though supported by Adobe, they don’t have all options yet. For example it was only this past fall that text wrapping was included and as far as I know you still can’t write PHP in the editor. However for basic HTML and CSS it’s great, and I use it for the intro courses. This editor works on both MAC and PC, and has extras like auto tag ending and tag hinting.

Now these are just editors, you’ll also want to get a FTP application to upload your files to the web. Now most hosts offer this feature through an online file manager, which you can access by logging into your host, however, this usually means you can only upload one file at a time. Thus, this could be time consuming if you have a large site to upload. Therefore a good FTP application is required, and like with HTML editors there are several that are free, but the most popular is Filezilla (

Also, you might just do a search on free resources for web developers/designers. There are a lot of other apps out there. Here are few links to some articles on the subject:

Categorized in: