February 1, 2005

A Small Discovery

About two years ago I stopped using Dreamweaver (MX) for constructing web pages. It was probably something to do with the fact that I had accumulated sufficient CSS knowledge to be able to abandon tables forever. While Dreamweaver was good at table-based layout, it didn’t seem to like CSS as much.
The whole WYSIWYG concept seemed a bit pointless too, so I went back to using Notepad.
For the last couple of years, it has been something of a struggle. I’ve been using the two text editors that come with Windows – Notepad and Wordpad. Notepad is lame as Girls Aloud, and WordPad always terrifies me, because I am worried that one day I’ll hit the save button and instead of saving as HTML, it will convert to Word 3.0 document format, with Times New Roman as the font and a 2.53cm page margin. I also really really missed the integrated FTP client in Dreamweaver. There was something truly elegant about right clicking on a file in the treeview and selecting “Put”, then sitting back and sipping tea as the connection was made to my webserver and the file uploaded to the right place in my clean and well-planned directory structure.
Ladies and gentlemen, today has been a good day.

I have discovered Crimson Editor.
Like all good things in life, it is free (as in beer).
The download is 1.12 MB – to all but the dialuppiest of users, it’s quicker to download the program than to open your average web browser (not really, but it’s still pretty quick). The License Agreement is actually short enough that there is no reason not to read it. The middle panel of the Choose Components screen is too narrow, but we’ll live. The remainder of the installation program is without drama, though it could do with a “Run Crimson Editor now” checkbox on the final screen.
Upon first run, the user is worryingly greeted by an error message. “Crimson Editor configuration file has been corrupted! Ignore this message if it is the first installation. Loading Crimson Editor default configuration…”
This is terrifying for a second. This message would be better off in the status bar rather than a modal dialog box.
But then the program loads, and one is pleased. Memory usage is at 6.5MB. The first document is open and ready, its tab proclaims the document name “Text1”. The currently selected line is highlighted in a pleasant pale yellow. The toolbar is not customisable, but is appropriately thorough. Under the File menu is a most welcome “FTP” option, with “Open Remote”, “Save As Remote” and “FTP Settings” options. In the other menus are all the usual functions found in an advanced text editor, no omissions are apparent.
The whole thing is well designed, and I think that it would be easy to pick up for users at any level. Performance is blinding – on this user’s machine, everything happens “straight away”, including startup.
If you are still using Notepad, you should be giving this program a try. You will wonder how you ever coped without syntax highlighting.


14 thoughts on “A Small Discovery

  1. Looks quite good.
    I use Textpad which has always served me well. In the end, it’s what your used to.
    I still use DreamWeaver for just changing styles as it has a good interface when you don’t neccessarily remember all the style details. But I do all the HTML and main code by hand.

  2. I use Macromedia HomeSite or Cal’s Noted – http://software.iamcal.com/
    It’s free. It’s very good. It’s like Notepad, only much much much better. And the file is only 299KB. If you like it a lot, give Cal a tenner.

  3. Ooh, all these sound good. Years ago, when I first started building my site from home, I downloaded an editor called First Page 2000, which was great for me at the time because it was very very similar to Homesite (which I use, and still use, at work) but free. But as I try and make my website pages as easy possible, I’ve drifted away from that and use Notepad.
    However, I’ll find it difficult to give up using WS-FTP. It’s my standard at work and at home,

  4. Filezilla does look good, but having used WS-FTP man and boy ever since I started posting things to the web on the long lost site I used to work on back in early 2000, I think I am now incapable of swapping. I’d probably end up posting pages of my site onto the Argos website, or something. And that would never do.

  5. I use FTP-Voyager, which I have paid for. And once you find something you like, it’s not so much money to keep updating to new version. It has some great functionality for syncing directories that I use a lot.

  6. I’d agree with Adrian – Textpad is bloody fantastic, and does away with a lot of the shite that DW throws in. I still use DW on occasion,but Textpad is the editor of choice, and is officially The First Thing I Download In A New Job (TFTIDIANJ) – it kicks the arse off Notepad (mind you, so do most things) and is easily used with all forms of coding.
    As for FTP, I’m with Vaughan, and WS-FTP is the one of choice.
    However, I’ll give this Crimson Editor a go, as it’s been recommended…

  7. [cough]TopStyle[/cough]
    Literally life-changing. Topstyle Lite came with homesite, and caused me to immediately dump Dreamweaver.
    Was originally intended as a CSS editor for homesite, but now it’s a fully fledged html editor and css editor and gives you instant preview of what you’re doing with both your CSS and HTML using either internet explorer or mozilla engines.
    I’ve never looked back since and it just keeps getting better and better.
    … and while I agree with Lyle that TextPad is great, TopStyle totally kicks it’s arse.

  8. I’ve tried TopStyle several times. Never quite caught on. Always find it overly complciated things and I could do things faster in Textpad, with using DW for a few quick changes to core css files.
    Maybe I’ll try Toptyle again in the future on Pix’s recommendation.

  9. I use Topstyle for basic CSS stuff, but have never used it as a text editor for HTML etc. Maybe I should.
    But for me it’s got a long way to go to beat Textpad on the TFTIDIANJ front…

  10. HomeSite and FileZilla for me. Although frequent quick ‘hacks’ are done in notepad2.
    Will try TextPad and whilst I know where the pixelated one is coming from I, like Adrian, just never ‘clicked’ with it.
    HomeSite has served for almost 10 years. Couldn’t change now.

  11. One of the most annoying features of WS-FTP (not present in FileZilla, of course) is the inability to recursively delete a remote directory. How incredibly irritating.

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