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Website Development Software – Nvu vs. Dreamweaver

If you’ve never heard of Nvu (http://www.nvu.com), don’t be surprised. It’s one of those lesser known packages for creating and maintaining your website — that’s FREE. So this software is completely in alignment with everything that Linux is about: open source software that doesn’t cost anything. For the features that it provides, it is pretty damn good. However, due to its open source and free nature, it doesn’t have the same level of quality as Dreamweaver (http://www.macromedia.com/dreamweaver). Let’s keep in mind however that Dreamweaver went through YEARS and YEARS of development before it became the full-featured development package that it is today.

I had been an avid Dreamweaver user for about 4 years before starting to use Nvu when I got my new laptop with Linux on it. Obviously, Dreamweaver usage on Linux isn’t a standard ability (you would have to run a Windows emulator like Wine in order for it to work), and I wasn’t keen on bastardizing my all Linux computer. Let me just say right off the bat… I LOVE Dreamweaver. If I didn’t lose my damned key code for the software when I wiped my HD clean, I would still be using it on my Windows machine. It isn’t really convenient for me to do that anyway, because most of my editing would be from my laptop. Here are some things that I find a little clunky about Nvu:

— The CSS editor: In today’s web programming, CSS is an integral portion of it. So I have a problem with it not being a prominent feature for styles. You have to go to a whole other section, then the interface isn’t terribly intuitive. It uses a tabbing feature (like the rest of the program does) which is a good thing. However, how you access CSS files is difficult. It doesn’t autodetect CSS in a document, nor does it allow you to click on the CSS and simply edit it. This is the ONE thing that I do not like about this — and I use CSS like crazy.

— The Preview feature: Truth be told, it doesn’t really do much. There is no cross-browser testing ability for the site that is inherent in the program, which would be nice. There ARE multiple browsers out in the world still, and I’d like to know how my site will look, even IF my layout and styles are perfect. 😉

— No support for simple extension types like TXT!: Yes, it won’t open a text file, like a robots.txt file for search engine happiness. I don’t know why. It’s so simple.

Some things I DO like:

— The Source tab when editing pages: I like how it lays out the source code. It does it by lines (and tells you so on the left side) unlike in Dreamweaver. And it is color defined, just like when you’re editing code in Vi or something. It’s pretty sweet.

— The Nvu Site Manager: I LOVE the ability to pull up any page in any of the sites I’ve defined. You know sometimes you have an idea for a different site than you’re working on… it just has it all listed there. You just expand the site you want to see and voila! There you are. It’s very very nice.

— XHTML 1.0+ support: They are very supportive for the W3C standards, of which I am happy. It does offer HTML 4.0 as an alternative default, but that’d be silly in this day and age. What I want to see them do is only offer XHTML 1.0 and possibly add 1.1 as well.

And there you have it. It’s not perfect, far from it. BUT it does provide some nice stuff for a free cost. Only thing though, I haven’t tried their templating ability since my old templates were from Dreamweaver. I’m going to give that a go for a certain section and see how it works out. I’ll let you know.

xoxo
Mika