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Free Tools for Webmasters & Programmers

Here's a collection of must-have tools for creating web-pages, testing scripts, & getting everything where it needs to be. Everything listed here is free & everything is top quality stuff.

These tools do not make writing a web page completely moron-proof. But if you bother to learn the rules for writing HTML, these free tools will go a long way. Included here are vital resources for editing HTML and CGI scripts, testing them locally, and ensuring that the code you write meets standards. Remember, learn a little, save a lot.

  • Pc Editor 2.51
    My favorite text editor -- only Windows Notepad gets used more around my place! Pc Editor 2.51 features a nice file explorer, lets you open & edit multiple documents at the same time, & has a "TextClip" feature that allows you to save often-used tags, codes, phrases, or whatever. It lets you choose between small, medium, & large tab sizes, & it handles those pesky Windows-Mac-Unix linefeeds like a champ! You can even select the color for the background & font, which can be a real eye-saver when you're doing a lot of editing.

  • Code Genie 3.0
    Code Genie has a full range of advanced text editing options & syntax highlighting for a variety of programming & scripting languages. C++, VBScript, HTML, Java, JavaScript, PHP, & cascading style sheets are all supported. Full-screen display & macro recording are a couple of other nice features. There's even an RGB color code calculator & hex-to-dec converter. It's easy to replace notepad altogether with Code Genie. The method for changing preferences -- editing a configuration file -- is a little antiquated & weird, but the features outweight the inconvenience. But the WORST thing about Code Genie is the nag screen system that starts popping up when the program decides it's time for you to "donate" $20. Yes, turns out that this one is shareware...

  • NoteTab Light
    When Code Genie became the nag demon, I started looking for other freeware text editors. NoteTab Light is one of two new ones I'm now evaluating. It features HTML & CSS editing functions, along with a dozen other "libaries." It's a snap to set up an HTML page, including the dreaded DOCTYPE, character set & META tags. Text documents can be converted to <P> tagged HTML & HTML tags can be stripped to convert a web page into a plain text document. There's even file encryption! A tabbed interface, color and font selections & amp; other user interface features look nice. The only trick is not to click the "Commerical Features" menu option, which converts the freeware "Light" version into a time-limited shareware demo. I'll be trying this one a lot until I decide whether that cool syntax highlighting in Code Genie is really worth a $20 "donation"...

  • Prolix 32
    Another freeware text editor, Prolix lacks all the "smart" features of Code Genie and Notetab Light. On the other hand, it has a simple, uncluttered interface & the "usual" user preferences for color, font, etc. Instead of tabs for each document, Prolix features a handy set of icons for cascading, horizontal & vertical tiling, even splitting a window. Word wrap is controlled by a convenient toolbar icon.

  • OmniHTTPd Professional v2.10
    A free webserver for Windows 98/ME/NT/2000, OmniHTTPd provides the basic functionality you need to set up a local server for testing CGI & PHP scripts. It even allows virtual servers & password protection. It works great for a personal server -- I've run it on 56K, DSL, & T1 systems -- but what I most recommend it for is "loopback" ( or localhost) testing of scripts. PHP comes bundled with the server distribution. The freeware version is time-limited, but Omnicron makes a new version available before the expiration date. I certainly wouldn't use OmniHTTPd for mission-critical work or situations that require heavy duty security features, but it's easy to configure & great for testing scripts.

  • Apache 1.3 or 2.0
    Also free, Apache is the de facto standard for web server software. Without a doubt, it's the most commonly used & there are builds for every imaginable operating system. In the Win32 environment, Apache is harder to configure than OmniHTTPd, but again, it's the standard. If your primary need is a platform for testing scripts locally, you may find OmniHTTPd less of a headache. If you're also interested in learning to configure the industry standard, go with Apache.

  • ActivePerl
    ActiveState is the outfit that made the Win32 port of Perl available. You will need a local installation of Perl to develop your own scripts or modify those you find on the Net. Get the precompiled binaries unless you have a C compiler & a lot of time & expertise.

    Once you've written, rewritten, edited, & locally tested your files, you'll need a good FTP client to upload them to your web host. The free "LE" version has all the features you'll likely ever need, including the ability to make directories, move files, set permissions (CHMOD) without knowing those arcane numbers, & much, much more!

  • W3C HTML Validation Service
    HTML is not done until it's validated. The World Wide Web Consortium provides this free online validator. Once your page validates successfully, you can use their nifty icon, too. All the pages on this website have been checked with the W3C Validation Service, although most do not validate successfully due to sloppy code required provided by the advertisers. Since there are no ads on this page, you'll see the icon below. Click it to verify the HTML validation!

  • W3C CSS Validation Service
    Not only should HTML be validated, but cascading style sheets, too. Once again the W3C comes to the rescue with an online style sheet validator. Another nifty icon! Click it to go straight to the validation service.

Valid HTML 4.01!    Valid CSS!

More free web development & programming tools will be added here, so check back often. If you have a favorite free tool, by all means recommend it to be listed -- email freetools@djeaux.com.

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