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Suggested Software

You will need some software in order to edit and transfer your website files. There are several choices available in both free and paid versions for you to consider. Here is the basic breakdown should you wish to do some or all of your own website creation or administration.

HTML Editors

An HTML editor is a program which helps you create the code for a website. (HTML = HyperText Markup Language) Editors range in features from Notepad (a very basic word processor) to a full-featured WYSIWYG editor. (WYSIWYG = What You See Is What You Get) While it's possible to create and maintain a website using Notepad, which almost everyone has on their computers, trying to do so will call for an extremely high level of skill. At the other end of the spectrum, a typical WYSIWYG editor allows you to drag-and-drop to create code automatically and is certainly more appropriate for the vast majority of people. However, there is still a steep learning curve involved even though the creation of HTML code is largely done for you behind the scenes.

The available list of WYSIWYG editors is quite large. Currently the commercial favorites are DreamWeaver ($150) and Expression Web (free). I use Expression Web (Ver. 4) for all my sites and am quite pleased with it. In addition, there are a number of free WYSIWYG editors available and a quick Google search for: free html editors will turn up a large selection. I have not personally used any of these, but find that CoffeeCup is mentioned quite often as the program to use. Here's a link to the free version.

If you're looking for something more useful for website database programming than the standard WYSIWYG editors, I suggest you try Visual Web Developer 2010 Express by Microsoft - it's free. It gives you the functionality of Expression Web but adds more professional features designed for the database developer. It can be very difficult to install, so you should NOT download and attempt to install the single program on its own from Microsoft.

Instead, download the free ISO file for Visual Studio 2010 Express, use it to burn yourself a CD and install just the Visual Web Developer 2010 Express program. (There is a 2012 version available but it can't be used on Windows XP. If you are using a Operating System newer than XP, go right ahead and download the 2012 version instead.) The CD will contain three other programs (Visual Basic, Visual C# and Visual C++) which you don't need to install at this time unless you want to. Doing it this way will save you huge amounts of frustration.

The ISO file is available here from Microsoft. Remember to look for the section entitled "Visual Studio 2010 Express ISO Images".

I have recently given a short presentation to the Prescott Computer Society on "Coding 101" which goes over some of the basic concepts of coding and provides several useful links. You are welcome to download it here in PDF format.

FTP Program

You'll need an FTP program to send your pages up to your hosting service's computer (FTP = File Transfer Program). There are many free FTP programs available and many free HTML editors also include some version of FTP as well. Sometimes it's handy to have a stand-alone FTP program in order to quickly send up a file without the necessity of opening your HTML editor. You can have different FTP programs on your computer as long as you don't try and use them at the same time.

Currently, the most frequently used FTP program is FileZilla which is available here. If you should want something different, simply Google: free ftp programs and you'll find a ton of others readily available.

WordPress

WordPress is a free add-in (usually available through your web host) which makes routine website editing easier than using one of the HTML editors listed above. It's primarily known and used as a blogging tool, but with some careful tweaks (OK - hacks), it makes a reasonable substitute for an HTML editor and is suitable for website maintenance. The editing interface is quite similar to any typical text editor and you should feel right at home changing your webpages.

However, in my opinion WordPress falls short in certain respects and I have gone into greater detail on my WordPress page.

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