Web Building Programs
This is my HTML editor of choice. (I always used to swear by HoTMetaL Pro ( http://www.softquad.com), which still, in my opinion, has the best table editing facilities - for which reason I still have version 5 installed.) But HomeSite wins for me because of all its productivity aids (automatically completing tags, reusable code snippets, useful context-sensitive menus, etc.) and its customisation/extendibility. See http://www.macromedia.com for more details.
From Nick Bradbury, the man who originally developed HomeSite. A tool to edit CSS style sheets as easily as HomeSite for HTML. A 'lite' version comes with HomeSite, but this paid-for one is well worth the money. See http://www.bradsoft.com/topstyle/index.asp.
The most accurate validators use a document type definition (DTD) to check the syntax of your web pages: you can use the online service at http://validator.w3.org/, for example. HomeSite comes with a rather feeble validator; this tool is much more comprehensive (although still not perfect). See http://www.htmlvalidator.com.
Unless you use FrontPage to publish your site, you almost certainly need an FTP client. This is my favourite: it has both a 'classic' interface, and an add-on for Windows Explorer that makes an FTP site look like a local folder; you can also use it from the command line. Choose which suits you best, or go for a cut-down freeware version. See http://www.ipswitch.com.
This is a very widely used shareware tool for compressing and decompressing files for transfer/download. WinZip supports many other formats than zip - for example tar and gzip, uuencoded, BinHex and MIME documents. Check out the latest information at http://www.winzip.com.
A powerful image editor for under £100; version 7 is a very respectable smaller brother of the industry standard tool, Adobe Photoshop, which is about 5x the price. Good for scanning or creating web images and converting between different file formats; probably all the non-professional designer needs for origination and image manipulation (vector and bitmap). See http://www.jasc.com.
An image optimiser that is an invaluable companion to PSP (with which it can work as a plug-in). Allows you to squeeze down your enormous web photos to a more manageable file size without obvious loss of quality. See http://www.ulead.com.
A photo manipulator with lots of standard tools (red-eye removal, contrast editing etc.) I bought it because of its stitching facility, which allows several photos to be merged into a single panorama. You can see my initial attempts on my home pages. See http://www.roxio.com. (The tool was sold to Roxio by MGI earlier this year - you may be able to purchase it under one or other name.)
A fast freeware link checker from Tilman Hausherr; produces a report from which you can view broken links in context, and a re-usable site map section, with all your links neatly laid out in a hierarchical list. Also has a useful re-check broken links feature, to test for timeout problems. See http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html.
A $15 shareware virtual ruler from Jesse Carneiro - try it at http://www.microfox.com, or buy it from http://www.kagi.com - follow the "order now" link and search for Screen Ruler to find the product(!). Small but perfectly formed; allows you to measure your frames, margins, images, and tables in pixels and other measurements.
A neat tool to simulate different screen resolutions in MS IE and NS from http://www.applythis.com - only costs the price of a single postage stamp. Sits in the systray and can be popped up when you need it.
Another systray tool - this time freeware. Use it to see the colour of the pixel under the pointer (choose from hex and decimal values) - useful for matching colours in existing graphics or web page screenshots etc. See http://www.inetia.com. Note: version 3.0 that I downloaded in April 2000 prevents the Microsoft Management Console from running - if you need to run the MMC, exit EyeDropper first. Version 1.1 didn't have the problem.
Animated GIF construction tool. Simple to use if you have the source images to make the animation; also does banners, neons, transitions, tickertapes etc. (I haven't used any on my site because they annoy me, but sometimes I have to make one for a client.) See Alchemy Mindworks - a zany site that wins no prizes for restraint, but is literate and amusing. Who said Canadians have no sense of humour? (Alchemy Mindworks are creators of Graphic Workshop, GIF Construction Set and other popular shareware applications.)
I keep a variable number of browsers installed, to test my sites. Currently, I have MS Internet Explorer versions 3.02, 4 and 5, 5.5 and 6.0, Netscape Navigator 3.04, 4.07, and 6.2; Opera 3.6 and 5 (from http://www.opera.com), Lynx 2.8.2 (from lynx.browser.org to test text-only acccess), and SPRY Mosaic 04 (no frames or table support). I also have a WebTV® emulator (see http://developer.webtv.net), not currently in any serious use, but I suppose the day will come when I need this and a phone emulator too! Being a squirrel, I keep old downloads in case they come in handy, but you might find these pages helpful:
If you don't believe you need to test your site, have a look at this browser comparison page (note: lots of big images, so be prepared to wait if you follow this link.)
I do have some other tools installed for specific jobs or clients. The most
used are FrontPage (from Microsoft)
- an integrated web authoring and management package, and HTML
Transit) - a tool for batch conversion of pre-existing information to HTML.
Unfortunately, what used to be an excellent intranet publishing tool for a few
hundred pounds has now been "repositioned" - i.e. it's now listed at
$5,000 with no extra features, so it's unlikely I shall ever recommend it to new
clients as a sensible solution.