Software Review: Hypertext Builder 2003
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Software Review: Hypertext Builder 2003By Lee Underwood
As more and more Web sites are being coded with XHTML, it would only make sense that software for Web site creation would tend to be more XHTML-specific. The majority of the current editors feature HTML with added XHTML-capability. However, XHTML-specific editors are now beginning to make their way into the hands of developers. One of those editors is Hypertext Builder 2003, a true XHTML editor.
Hypertext Builder 2003 is a "Web development application", according to the Web site of PAKSoft Productions, distributors of the software. While the application's main emphasis is the coding of valid XHTML Web pages, it also provides tools for the authoring of PHP and ASP pages.
The editor's main focus is text-based hand-coding but it also offers a WYSIWYG editor. In addition, there are several other integrated utilities, such as a Paragraph Builder, a Thumbnail Browser, Font Browser, an FTP program to transfer the pages to your site, and a personal information manager to keep track of your development schedule, telephone numbers, and Web sites.
Hypertext Builder has been around for five years. Initially, the software was created as part of an academic project and has evolved into what it is today. New features in this version include style sheet importation, support for .NET Web and validation controls, and popup reference boxes for SQL, mySQL, Access, and Oracle database schemas.
Hypertext Builder won't do the thinking for you. You still need to have an understanding of XHTML (which is not much different from HTML). And if you need to renew your coding abilities, a basic XHTML tutorial is included, along with several online references.
On the left-hand side of the screen, near the top, is the editing window. On the bottom of the screen is a window used to preview the results from the editing window above. This window is also used to display the online manual and tutorials. The preview window uses Internet Explorer to view the files. All windows can be resized for easy viewing.
In order to help make sure the coding is valid XHTML, Hypertext Builder provides its own built-in helpers. The software supplies:
- automatic insertion of quotes for tag attributes
- automatic lowercase for all XHTML tags
- automatic backslash for all empty tags
- automatic insertion of end tags
Each one of these functions can be controlled in the Settings dialog box to allow for greater flexibility. However, in order to maintain valid code, the default settings should be left unchanged..
As you begin to enter a tag, the editor helps by suggesting the next step in
an open tag. This is accomplished by popup tag/attribute reference windows. When
<" bracket is typed, a window opens with choices for
entering a tag. You can move the cursor to select the code or, as you begin to
enter the desired code, the cursor in the window will move closer to that tag.
When the tag is entered, press the spacebar and the editor will give a number of
options to complete the tag. For example, if you typed in
<div", a window will open with the attributes associated with
<div> tag (
style=, etc.). It sounds like a slow
process, but once you get the hang of it, it helps to speed things up quite a
bit. If you wish, you can ignore the window and complete the tag yourself or
turn off the popup feature entirely.
Several of the tags (such as frame, table, anchor, comment, and server side) each have different colors associated making it easer to find them in the code.
Document, inline, and external style sheets are created using the built-in Style Sheet Editor. All font, text, background, color, layout, classification, positioning, and printing properties are available in the editor. External style sheets can also be imported for editing. The current style sheet can be rendered in the preview window at the lower left of the screen.
Even though its main thrust is XHTML code, Hypertext Builder offers features designed to help ASP and PHP developers. Also included is the ability to scan ODBC data sources and import database schemas into the Language Tree.
The program doesn't require power much to run; all you need is a Pentium II or Celeron processor, with Windows 98 or higher, and Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher. It's licensed as shareware for the incredible price of $12.00! Registration includes a free upgrade to the next version. The download is good for 60 sessions with all the features being available during the trial period. While the help file is somewhat limited, the simplicity of the program makes up for that deficiency.
Overall, Hypertext Builder 2003 is an excellent XHTML editor. I used it to
create a fairly complex XHTML Web page and, with the exception of a few of my
own mistakes (capitalization of table attributes, ending
tag omitted, "alt" attribute omitted from image code ), it passed the W3C validator quite nicely. The coding went
rather quickly once I got the hang of using the popup windows. It will
especially help those who have written sloppy code and gotten away with it all
these years. The amount of features included in this program place it right up
there on par with others that cost $300.00-$500.00. With the addition of the
Language Tree and the popup windows, it seems to be a very good all-around
editor. Not bad for an academic project!
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Revised: May 31, 2004