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The 7 Best HTML Editors Out There (And Why Free Options Work Just Fine)

Orane Ennis
By     July 23, 2021   Focus   

Coding is an essential skill for many digital creators. You don’t have to be a programmer to reap rewards from coding – writers, artists, and other creatives can benefit from knowing how to write code, especially HTML.

 

Today we’re talking about an essential tool for coders, especially if you’re looking to build a website.

 

Whether you’re a beginner or someone with years of experience, everyone can benefit from a good HTML Editor when coding. Today, we’ll explore the top options (and explain why our favourites are free).

 

 

Let’s go.

 

What is an HTML Editor?

 

An HTML Editor is a program built to write and edit HTML code – the basis for many websites.

 

While you can use any text-based editor, such as Notepad, to write HTML code, a dedicated HTML editor offers a host of features to help streamline the process of writing and editing code.

 

These features include syntax highlight, autocompletion, debugging, and more.

 

Note

If you want to build a website quickly and sidestep the coding, we recommend you check our in-depth review of the best website builders.

 

 

When should you use an HTML Editor?

 

Here are just some examples of when a HTML Editor can come in handy:

 

  • You’re learning to write code.
  • You need to edit an HTML or CSS file.
  • You’re developing something for the web.
  • You want to upgrade from a bare-bones text editor or word processor.

 

HTML Editor features, such as auto-completion, make coding easier because they input closing tags where they’re supposed to appear. That means you can write code faster and there’s less chance of an error due to a missing closing tag.

 

Overall, whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned programmer, a HTML Editor can make a huge difference in your workflow and output.

 

 

WYSIWYG Editors vs. Textual HTML

 

WYSIWYG is the acronym for What You See Is What You Get. These are HTML Editors that provide you with a visual preview of the code you’re writing.

 

These HTML Editors are great for beginners as they allow you to see what your HTML code will look like on the web, and it does not require any initial HTML knowledge. That means you can go in there without a lick of HTML knowledge and create a gorgeous webpage.

 

A textual HTML editor, on the other hand, is as the name suggests: a text-based editor and requires you to have HTML knowledge to utilize it. When you’re using a textual HTML editor, you can’t see a preview of the site you’re editing / creating, and therefore you need some working knowledge of HTML to get the most out of it.

 

However, one of the perks of a textual HTML editor is that it allows more freedom when creating your webpage.

 

 

Best HTML Editors That Are Free

 

There are loads of HTML Editors on the market.

 

We’ll be going over 5 great free ones and 2 great premium options.

 

1. Visual Studio Code

 

TL;DR

Visual Studio Code is a free open-source HTML editor with a range of programming languages and robust features that can benefit a beginner or a seasoned programmer.

 

microsoft visual studio code

 

Visual Studio Code is a free open-source HTML editor that was created and maintained by Microsoft as well as support from the open-source community.

 

Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code is stellar due to its clean and intuitive design as well. It works well for beginners while still offering a lot to more seasoned programmers as well.

 

We can speak from experience here -here’s what Bitcatcha’s own tech team had to say:

 

I can personally vouch for Visual Studio Code (I’m using it for HTML, it’s pretty awesome). It color codes everything and highlights errors, but is also free and has an extensive coverage of extensions (e.g. HTML, CSS, Apache; downloadable from their own extension market). You can also create an account for it and sync settings across devices.”
 

~ Chen Xi, Bitcatcha On-page Specialist

 

Visual Studio Code is my current go-to editor. Tons of extensions. You can customise a lot and it’s more intuitive than Notepad++”
 

~ Aaron, Bitcatcha Full Stack Developer

 

And another great part of Visual Studio Code? You can also download an extension called Live Server. This will help reflect any changes in real time as you code your website. How neat is that?

 

microsoft visual studio code extension liveserver

Visual Studio Code’s Live Server extension.

 

Visual Studio Code is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

 

Key Features:

  1. Supports a wide range of programming languages such as HTML, Sass, JavaScript, C++, CSS, Python, XML, and more.
  2. Offers a wide range of customization options that allows you to add themes, different languages, debuggers, and more.
  3. Its IntelliSense feature not only offers autocomplete and syntax highlight but also gives you smart completions that are based on your functions, modules, and types.
  4. Git commands are built-in which means that it’s easier to work with Git and other SCM providers. You can review diffs, stage files, and make commits directly from the editor.

Con:

  • Visual Studio Code can seem overwhelming at first glance, however, once you take some time to use it, it is easy to get a grasp of.

 

 

2. Notepad++

 

TL;DR

Notepad++ is a free lightweight HTML editor with multi-language support, customization options, and a distraction-free UI.

 

notepad plus plus editor

 

Notepad++ is a free text and source code editor for Microsoft Windows. If you’re looking for a clean and simple HTML editor then Notepad++ might be the one for you. It supports over 80 programming languages which include HTML, JavaScript, CSS.

 

This HTML editor is lightweight and even has a mobile version as well. Its repository is available in GitHub, and it also has third-party plugins. If you’re a Linux user, you can also use Notepad++ via Wine.

 

Notepad++ is a great HTML editor if you’re looking to level up your coding skills and its clean interface makes it perfect for those who prefer a distraction-free workspace.

 

Key Features:

  1. Offers a lightweight, and simple and fast program.
  2. Multi-language coding environments such as CSS, ActionScript, and more.
  3. Customizable, extendable, and supports plugins from its open-source community. You can even make your own.

Con:

  • Notepad++ cannot handle large files well.

 

 

3. Atom

 

TL;DR

Atom is a free open-source HTML Editor with premium performance, it has over 8000 packages available for installation as well as a host of features to satisfy any developer.

 

atom editor

 

Released in 2014, Atom is a free open-source code editor that was developed and is currently maintained by the GitHub team. It was designed to offer a premium feel and experience without a price tag.

 

The software itself is customizable as GitHub strived to make it a hackable text editor. You can extend, edit, change, and share program source code as well as make your packages to make atom better.

 

Atom is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux devices.

 

Key Features:

  1. Syntax highlight as well as search and replace feature.
  2. Smart autocompletion allows you to write your code smarter and faster.
  3. Atom also offers a Teletype feature which allows you to work with other developers in real-time.
  4. There is multi-pane support which means you can work on multiple files at once. This is especially handy if you’re working on interrelated files.
  5. Atom is available with 81 built-in packages with up to 8700 additional ones available for installation. This is in addition to your ability to create your package.

Con:

  • Atom can be slow on startup, and it can also take up a lot of system resources when in use.

 

 

4. Sublime Text

 

TL;DR

Sublime is a free HTML text editor with a paid upgrade available, it offers Python API support and other features that can meet your development needs.

 

sublime text editor

 

Sublime Text is a great HTML text editor that was developed by Sublime HQ Pty Ltd. It offers a free model with a paid upgrade available. This HTML Editor offers excellent support that ensures that it’s constantly updated.

 

You can also create your plugins for Sublime Text or use the ones created by the community. The free version is more than adequate for many developers but if you ever need more, the upgrade is ready and waiting.

 

Sublime is available on macOS, Linux, and Windows systems. You only need one license to use it on any system.

 

Key Features:

  1. Sublime has Python API support which enables the plugin to expand its base functionality.
  2. Split editing allows you to use multiple monitors to edit different types of code at the same time.
  3. Its simultaneous editing feature allows you to make edits to various selected areas at the same time.
  4. The Goto Definition feature means Sublime can automatically generate a project-wide index of every method, class, and function.
  5. Its Goto Anything feature gives you the ability to open files with one or two keystrokes, so you can search for lines, symbols, or words.

Cons:

  • There are fewer plugins available than other free HTML Editors on the market.
  • Some users have shared that its Mac counterpart isn’t as user-friendly as the Windows and Linux versions.

 

 

5. Komodo Edit

 

TL;DR

Komodo Edit is a free open-source code editor that offers multi-language programming, and a wide range of customization options.

 

komodo edit editor

 

Komodo Edit is a free and open-source code editor which offers a wide range of programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and more. The current version of Komodo Edit is the Komodo 12.

 

While Komodo Edit is a free code editor from ActiveState, the Komodo IDE program is now available for free as a part of the ActiveState Platform. Komodo Edit is a simple code editor, while Komodo IDE is a more feature-packed program that offers a Revamped Code Intelligence, print debugging, and more.

 

Komodo Edit is available for macOS, Windows, and Linux devices.

 

Key Features:

  1. Allows for Kopy.io integration.
  2. Skins and icon sets allow for personalization.
  3. Autocomplete allows for reduced errors in programming.
  4. Offers multi-language support which includes HTML, Python, C++, and more.
  5. Multiple selection feature allows you to select multiple positions and make changes to them all at once.

Con:

  • Komodo Edit takes up a lot of system resources and can be slow on startup.

 

 

Best HTML Editors You’ll Need To Pay For

 

1. Adobe Dreamweaver

 

TL;DR

Adobe Dreamweaver is a premium HTML editor that allows for versatile coding and also works seamlessly with Adobe’s current software ecosystem.

 

Adobe Dreamweaver

 

Adobe Dreamweaver is a premium HTML editor that was developed and managed by Adobe.

 

It’s fast, powerful, and versatile in its performance. You can use Dreamweaver for both front-end and back-end development. Dreamweaver is a closed-source software that was built to work within the existing Adobe ecosystem.

 

With Dreamweaver, you have access to Adobe’s wide range of digital assets as well as support and plugins that’ll make coding seamless. One feature which adds to Dreamweaver’s versatility is that it supports both WYSIWYG and textual HTML editing. You’re not restricted to one or the other, you get to choose.

 

Dreamweaver is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux (using Wine). It used to be a one-time purchase, however, it is now available as a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud as a monthly or annual subscription.

 

The monthly subscription for the Dreamweaver app alone is $31.49 while the annual plan is $239.88. However, there’s an annual plan paid monthly for $20.99.

 

Key Features:

  1. Its editor allows you to work in WYSIWYG and textual modes.
  2. Dreamweaver offers coding support for any major programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.
  3. Full integration with Adobe’s ecosystem grants you access to a wide range of assets such as graphics, layers, characters, and more.

Con:

  • Adobe Dreamweaver is premium software that might be too expensive for some developers.

 

 

2. Nova

 

TL;DR

Nova is a Mac-native code editor by Panic that’s built to work exclusively on macOS devices, if you loved Coda then consider Nova an upgrade.

 

nova editor for macos

 

Nova is a Mac-native code editor that was developed by Panic, the same company behind the text editor, Coda. Nova is available for $99 and you also receive one year of updates and new features.

 

After the first year, you’ll need to pay $49 each year to keep Nova updated. If you’re looking to upgrade from Coda, you can do so for $79 instead of $99 and receive the same benefits.

 

Nova is a fully customizable editor with themes that you can write yourself. It even changes with your Mac’s light and dark modes. Mac is known for its simplicity in design and Panic sought to emulate that with Nova, offering a clean and sleek code editor that’s not only pleasing to the eye but also packs some power behind it.

 

Key Features:

  1. A customizable interface that makes Nova look how you want it.
  2. The text editor has autocomplete, a Minimap, editor overscroll, and more.
  3. A robust API along with a built-in extension allows you to expand Nova as you see fit.
  4. Built-in support for various coding languages such as HTML, JavaScript, CSS, CoffeeScript, PHP, and more.
  5. Improved workflow components along with Git source control tools, and other tools to make Nova work for you.

Con:

  • Nova only works on macOS.

 

 

Wrap Up: Why Free HTML Editors Might Be Enough

 

HTML Editors are essential for web development and knowing how to use one would only add to any digital creator or anyone’s arsenal. They allow you to write code faster and help you avoid common errors when writing code.

 

There are loads to choose from, so before you make your choice, think about your needs, your budget, and your experience level before you download one.

 

Here’s a recap of what we’ve covered:

 

  1. Visual Studio Code
    https://code.visualstudio.com/
    Best for beginners or seasoned programmers.
  2. Notepad++
    https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
    Best for those who prefer a distraction-free UI.
  3. Atom Editor
    https://atom.io/
    Provides you with enhanced customization.
  4. Sublime Text
    https://www.sublimetext.com/
    Great for those who like to work on multiple tasks at once.
  5. Komodo IDE
    https://www.activestate.com/products/komodo-edit/
    Best for those who value simplicity without sacrificing power.
  6. Adobe Dreamweaver
    https://www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver.html
    Fast, powerful, and versatile in its performance loved by web developers.
  7. Nova Editor
    https://nova.app/
    Customizable editor with themes best for Mac lovers.

 

As with everything else in life, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to HTML editors, so consider your needs then choose the one that best suits you.

 

While most premium products usually blow the paid alternatives out of the water, that’s not the case with HTML Editors.

 

In fact, many developers are highly satisfied with free HTML Editors because they offer more than what they need to get the job done.

 

Also, many free HTML Editors have open source communities which means that they are constantly updated with new and interesting features and if there’s something missing, you can make it yourself.

 

Even with everything considered, if you find that none of these HTML Editors suit you and coding isn’t your forte, but you NEED a website then check out the best website builders on the market to do the work for you.

 

 

Orane Ennis

About The Author

Orane Ennis is a writer with a passion for tech and how it will change the landscape of business. He’s most excited to see how augmented reality will blend the real and digital world in the years to come.