Which html editor would you recommend for creating Chinese homepages?


To day, there are many HTML editors available on the market, but not all of them are good for creating Chinese web pages. The reason for that is, some of those editors, like Hotmetal, Claris Homepage, and other format rich editors will generate many control codes along with other proprietory codes only recognizable under a pure english environment. To work with Chinese web pages, we basically need a clean, or pure text environment. Of course, if you are good at HTML language, you may created any page with any text editor, like a Note Pad provided by MS windows. However, for most people at the novice level, this is definitely too hard. Fortunately, there are some editors are around to meet our needs. Some of them can be downloaded free of charge, while others have to be purchased.

I will first concentrate on two free editors. The first one is MS Front Page express, which comes with Windows 98 package, or can be downloaded from Microsoft Web site. This is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. To use it is as easy as one uses any word editor. You just type in whatever you want to put onto your page. To create a Chinese page, you first choose the right font, either GB or Big5, then the editor will write the corresponding Meta attributes into your page's head,specifying what base-language the page is using as in " <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=gb2312">", or "meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=Big5">." This will basically give instruction to your client's browser what character set to look for when it opens the web page. To see if you have the correct settings for your web editor for your Chinese web page, click on view menu on your frontpage express and click on html to see if the mentioned meta attributes are there. If they are, you can just input Chinese characters directly into your page and your clients will be able to view them without any problem.

The second one is Netscape Composer which is bundled with Netscape communicator. To activate it, just click on the editor icon located at the lower right hand side browser bar. The first thing you need to do is to set the right Chinese character set from the view menu. Check source to make sure that the right type of meta attributes are there. Then just proceed creating your page.

Both Frontpage express and Netscape Composer are lite versions editor. That means, they do not have sophisticated editing functions. For more powerful editors, you have to go to commercial ones like Allaire Homesite or Macromedia Dreamweaver. Allaire Homesite is an industrial standard code based editor though it has some rudimental WYSIWYG capability. It has a lot of powerful web design functions. Here we are going to concentrate on it's Chinese compatibility. To utilize Allaire Homesite, we first have to make it Chinese compatible, which is achieved by unchecking the function of "automatically convert special characters" from the Tag Help sector in the settings. Thus, the editor becomes purely text based. You can safely type in any version of Chinese characters without interference from any proprietory codes, and make use of all Allaire's powerful functions.

Unlike Allaire Homesite, Macromedia Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG based editor like Frontpage express or Netscape Composer, but has more editing power with it. This editor can also be used as a plugin for Allaire Homesite. To use it with Chinese, just set the right Chinese font selection at when you open your new editing page. That is it. All the pages under this FAQ section are actually created with Dreamweaver. Besides the WYSIWYG editing interface, if you need to edit the source code, just go to the window menu and select HTML.

All these editors can be used with add-on systms like Cstar and Richwin. I never tested them with NJstar communicator myself,so I can offer no opinions on that part.


Wenze Hu