No matter what kind of site you’re going to be putting up on the internet, there are tools you’re going to need to make it easier to post articles and pictures. You may want an HTML editor to help you design web pages, or you’ll need an FTP package to help you transfer files to your web space.
All websites and blogs will use graphics, so a good graphics editor will also come in handy. But which ones do you need and which ones are free and easy to use? I have a few suggestions.
Choosing A Graphics Package
Whither you’re going to use a static website or a blog, both will need a graphics package to modify images. One of the worst things you can do for your internet presence is take up space unnecessarily with desktop size pictures. Everyone has their favorite size image, but large images are a big no no if all you want to do is put up a picture to help advertise the content of your article.
Desktop width and height vary, but 1366 wide x 768 high is now the most popular. 1024 x 768 has dropped to second place, and 1280 x 800 takes up third position. But these are full screen desktop sizes. You certainly don’t need to upload a picture that large only to resize it’s dimensions to fit on your article. So a graphics package can help you resize images and save them at smaller sizes, saving you space on your website account.
Photoshop is probably by far one of the more popular graphics editors. Frankly, it costs too much for my taste. But it’s one of the more popular packages available for Windows platforms.
When I started webdesign there was a company called JASC who made a product called PaintShopPro. They eventually sold their product to Corel Draw who now maintains the product. But it too is a little pricey for my tastes. But either of these packages are good if you have the extra cash to spend on the latest versions.
On eBay however you can find the last edition of JASCs PaintShopPro version 8 for under $20. It’s a fairly easy package to learn, very intuitive and it has great help screens. But I’ve found if you open an image and start pushing buttons, you eventually find out how the tool works and what it can do for you.
Whatever you choose, make sure it has the capability to create multi-part images as well. Multi-part images are animated graphics. JASCs PaintShopPro comes with an additional software package called Animation Shop 3 that allows you to create animated graphics.
If you want a package that helps you create and edit movies you’ve taken on your cell phone or digital camera, there are a variety of packages out there. I use Microsoft’s free package called Movie Maker. It works for me, but then I’m a novice at making video for the internet. That it’s “free” is what caused me to use it. You can’t argue much with FREE.
One of the best tools ever, literally EVER for web page design was Adobe’s PageMill. Unfortunately Adobe discontinued the product. And if you’re lucky enough to find it on eBay, you’re next problem is trying to get it to work on the new Windows platforms. It’s a 32bit product and will not run on 64bit systems. Windows XP was the last version it ran under easily. Now if you are technically savvy, you can install XPMode & Windows Virtual PC to run old 32bit software packages on your new 64bit system.
If that sounds like too much trouble to you, you’re probably right. There are alternatives to the old PageMill, but none of them have the wonderful functionality that PageMill had.
One of the more easy to use free packages is called Kompozer. It lacks some of the great features of PageMill, but it still has enough of the common simple functionality to do what you probably need for a static website. It handles some of the new compatibility that PageMill didn’t support, such as image support for .PNG files. It also handles the new versions of HTML and some PHP as well.
If you’re going to be using a lot of Java or Java Scripting, neither of these tools will be appropriate, but if you’re reading this, you already know that. Adobe has some tools that support more robust programing for websites, but with the way they drop support of older tools in order to get you to buy new tools, I would be careful using Adobe products today.
WebMatrix by Windows
This is a free HTML web editor that is a cloud connected tool. NEVER do anything that connects your data, design or anything else to the Cloud! Ever! The cloud might seem like a great, kewl and easy thing to use. But the moment your data and files are transferred to a large repository, like a Cloud, it is vulnerable to attack.
The point here being, no one has a good WYSIWYG HTML editor anymore. And frankly that sucks. But if you’re new to webdesign, and you’re looking for a free package, go with Kompozer.
File Transfer Protocol Tools
FTP Tools allow you to transfer files to your web space much like you transfer files with your local file manager, or Windows Explorer file system.
Many html development tools have a built in FTP tool that allows you to publish directly to your website. Frankly I’ve never liked these or the way they handle FTP.
If you’re running your own site and have access to a cPanel, you have an FTP package built in there as well.
But if you like something you can control more easily you might like my favorite tool Ipswitch File Transfer product called WS_FTP. There are two versions, a personal professional version that’s about $50. And an administration server version. You used to be able to get this tool for free if you were a student or educational organization. You can’t do that anymore. Sorry.
These are the basic tools you need. With these you can create anything on the web.
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