Microsoft Office 2007 suite is now outdated – according to the June 27th 2016 UNEB circular to schools, software versions should not be more than ten (10) years old from the year of the examinations. This means that this year, 2018, schools should be migrating to Office 2010, 2013 or the latest Office 2016.
Many schools have been using Microsoft Office Publisher 2007 for attempting Website design in UCE 840/2 Computer Studies as per the 2008 NCDC syllabus and UNEB setting format, but starting with the Office 2010 suite, Microsoft decided to discontinue website authoring in publisher. Website creation features and templates which were visible in Publisher 2007 are disabled by default, and opening an existing .pub web publication is now the only way to get into Publisher 2010’s web mode (See this Kennesaw University Tutorial on creating a website with Publisher 2013 using online website templates) but still Microsoft warns that this functionality may go away entirely in a future release of Publisher.
Microsoft FrontPage 2003 is another great web authoring software that was previously used by many schools in the past decades. However, it was also discontinued and replaced by Microsoft Expression Web in 2007. Currently, Expression web has been pulled into Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 and the last update of the standalone solution (Expression Web 4.0.1460.0) was on December 20, 2012. While a free download is still available, this project has also gone as far as it is likely to go.
Dreamweaver is the professional standard for WYSIWYG Web authoring, and the most popular website design desktop application. Formerly owned by Macromedia, but now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, millions of developers have used Dreamweaver to develop basic sites, while others have used it to create some of the most complex sites known to the Internet. If you have other Adobe programs like Photoshop, Dreamweaver will integrate with them to save you a lot of work time.
While Dreamweaver has all the bells and whistles you could possibly need, the cost makes it prohibitively expensive for many. While Dreamweaver used to be accessible to everyone, right now it is not the cheapest of solutions. To get access to the single app, a standard monthly plan costs $29.99. And as most designers only use a fraction of its capabilities, as with our syllabus and class requirements – its expense may not be justifiable. The many functionalities and capabilities also make it difficult to learn. Dreamweaver isn’t really meant for those who don’t know a lick of HTML, but if you’re at least familiar with the basics you won’t find a better and more industry-recognized authoring tool.
So which free easy-to-use alternatives to Dreamweaver are available? UNEB questions usually state, “Using web authoring software of your choice, create a website for…” (See Last Year’s UCE Exam Web design question). The dilemma is, which web authoring software (desktop application) is the most recommended (basing on being current, easy to acquire, easy to install and use offline) for creating static html webpages?
WYSIWYG Alternatives to Dreamweaver
- Microsoft Expression Web is an HTML web page editor that allows users to create and modify web pages using various programming languages. The latest version, as of July 2014, is Expression Web 4, which requires .NET Framework 4.0 to run. Expression Web is free to download and use and can be a good introduction for those looking to learn more about creating web pages.
The last update of BlueGriffon was released in February 2017 and so this project is still alive and kicking. Powered by Gecko, it is an Open Source solution billed as an “an intuitive, modern and robust application”.
The project website also describes BlueGriffon as a “next-gen Web and EPUB Editor based on the rendering engine of Firefox” with elements inherited from “famous ancestors” such as Netscape, Composer and Nvu. So, as you can see, it has a very solid pedigree.
Native standalone versions are available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux with HTML 4 and HTML 5 supported. It supports CSS 3 including 2D and 3D transformations, transitions, shadows, columns, and font features. However, some features of the latest update (BlueGriffon 2.3.1) are only available after purchasing a license, and that can cost 69.99 euros ($75) or 195 euros ($206) so you need to look carefully at what’s on offer. However, the free version is still likely to meet most people’s needs.
2. Aloha Editor
While the original version is still available, since we first looked at it Aloha Editor has morphed into Aloha Editor 2. The developers called it a day with Aloha Editor 2, but “Aloha Editor 1 is not affected by this decision and will continue to be supported and developed”.
The last stable Aloha Editor 1 release was 1.4.27 which happened 21 March 2017, so it remains pretty current.
Offering HTML5 editing it is compatible with current browsers and it features a “floating” toolbar that alters depending on which part of your site you are working on. It is an extremely viable Dreamweaver alternative.
Initially released in 2005, the SeaMonkey Project was around well before our original article was written, but with version 2.46 released on December 22, 2016, it has grown from strength to strength over the years.
An Open Source solution, SeaMonkey originated as a Mozilla project – that’s right, the Firefox people. It was ultimately taken over as a “community continuation” and the suite you download now includes ‘Composer’ – the tool that you use for website design.
Although Composer will be not be developed any further, it receives maintenance updates and is still a good choice, especially for anyone learning HTML for the first time.
SeaMonkey addresses areas like HTML5 and is available in 26 languages on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Certainly not as sophisticated as Dreamweaver, but it delivers and represents a viable option.
Initially released in 2006, Trellian Webpage is another solution that remains supported and much loved.
For a free software, it is quite powerful, offering a ‘drag & drop’ interface and support for current Internet technologies.
With a user-friendly interface, Trellian Webpage boasts a built-in spellchecker. It also features easy-to-use resampling tools and allows users to easily “create search engine friendly pages”.
Another good alternative for anyone who thinks Dreamweaver might be beyond their website’s requirements.
While the last stable release of openElement (version 1.47.3) was release January 21, 2014, this remains fully supported and a powerful tool.
This WYSIWYG software offers a very intuitive interface and caters for technologies like HTML5 and CSS3.
openElement is important because it focuses on enabling users to create websites with the responsive designs that look good on any device (PC, mobile, or tablet) and are vital for good SEO.
Powered by Chromium, it caters for multilingual websites and offers reusable styles and element packs.
Technically still in Beta (you know how Google does things), Google Web Designer is a genuinely good solution that gives you everything you want from a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
While the last release date was November 2015, it is still fully supported, and being a Google product could potentially offer an SEO edge.
Totally freeware, it offers a number of work spaces: Design View, Code View, and a Preview space that lets you look at what you have created through Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
It probably offers as much as you need for your website and is therefore worth considering.
While the last version of TOWeb (version 5.29) was released late 2015, this software is still supported and maintained, and it packs a punch as far as free WYSIWYG software is concerned.
Like other solutions TOWeb has HTML 5 and CSS 3 covered, but more importantly, it also has a strong leaning towards enabling users to create ‘responsive’ website designs.
TOWeb provides a number of templates which users edit and revamp to design the responsive website they need.
While TOWeb has paid ‘premium’, ‘ecommerce’ and ‘studio’ packages available, the free version is powerful enough for most people’s needs.
Other Paid alternatives available for free trial include the following
Easy to use and cost-effective web creation tool. WebEditor is designed for everyone. Powerful visual authoring environment allows you to simply add contents to Web pages without knowledge of webcode. Site Wizard & Site Manager make creating and maintaining a complete Web site easier than ever. Advanced users can create and manage Web sites using our powerful tools such as Real-time synchronization between WYSIWYG Editing Mode and HTML and the Quick Tag Editor.
Antenna Web Design Studio’s pixel accurate, drag and drop environment gives you freedom to concentrate on aesthetics and design, while powerful features such as master pages and layers save time when you need items to appear on many pages. You can create digital photo galleries, rollover buttons and smooth color gradients using the built-in button, and gradient lab utilities.
ICT Teachers are encouraged to try out these applications and identify which ones they find most effective and easy for the learners to use. Please share your experiences and additional suggestions are in the comments!
Partly adapted from this article.