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Composing HTML with KompoZer

by Alan German

For many years I have used Homesite as my HTML editor of choice. Over time, the development and maintenance of this software has been transferred to several companies – Allaire, Macromedia, and Adobe – the latter now no longer offering support for the package. Since I am scheduled to give an “HTML 101” session at one of Ottawa’s library branches, I thought that I should try to find a replacement editor – preferably either free or open-source software – that participants may use to edit their web pages.

I didn’t have to look very far before I came across KompoZer, an open-source package that offers all of the features that I desire in an HTML editor. First and foremost, it has to edit and save HTML files without adding a whole raft of spaghetti code – as several “designer” programs are prone to do. Secondly, it has to provide easy-to-use buttons for things like formatting text (e.g. bold, centered), and also support “complex” page elements such as anchor tags and tables. Obviously, one can create all these HTML codes in a simple text editor such as Notepad++, but it’s so much easier with a purpose-built editing package.



KompoZer has all of these features, plus a file manager to display relevant files and folders, and a series of windows that allow the current web page to be viewed in a number of different ways. The normal view provides WYSIWYG capability where a page can be edited directly with the results being displayed as changes are made. A preview window shows the final result as it might appear in a web browser, while a source window shows the underlying HTML code. An interesting window is entitled HTML Tags. This adds little yellow boxes indicating specific elements on the page such as A (anchor), IMG (image), and TD (table cell).

Now, this isn’t to say that KompoZer has no quirks. Far from it. One thing that I found very non-intuitive was how to establish a list of files in a given folder. Fortunately, the help files that come with the program are in fact very helpful. To establish a file list for a folder on the local hard disk, one has to use the “Site Manager”. Navigate to Edit – Publishing Site Settings, give the “site” a name (e.g. DataDisk), and provide entries for both the Web Site Information and Publishing Server fields in the form “file:///D:/”. The easiest way to do the latter step is to use the Select directory button for the Publishing Server entry and then cut and paste the browse-to entry into the Web Site Information field. The next problem is that, even after all of these contortions, DataDisk doesn’t show up in the Site Manager window – at least not until one exits from and restarts KompoZer!

The other “feature” that I personally don’t like is that any new file is named with a .html extension. The problem here is a personal issue in that, when I first started creating web pages, I adopted a “filename.htm” format for all of my files. Homesite provides the option to set either html or htm as the file extension. Unfortunately, KompoZer does not.

However, the above-noted “annoyances” are merely part of the learning curve for someone who is very familiar with a different HTML editor. For the most part, the wide range of useful features that KompoZer offers far outweighs any such downsides. So, if you have need of an HTML editor, I'm sure you will find this software to be a worthwhile addition to your toolbox.

Bottom Line:

KompoZer (Open-Source)
Version 0.7.10

Originally published: November, 2014

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