A HTML editor assists the user in writing HTML code for webpages. Although HTML code can be written and edited with any text editor, a special HTML editor is designed to be more convenient. Additionally HTML editors generally provide some assistance for creating Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
There are two flavors of HTML editors: text and WYSIWYG.
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2 WYSIWYG editors
3 List of products
The text editors usually provide syntax highlighting, toolbars and keyboard shortcuts for quick inserting of HTML tags, assistants for some jobs or easy preview in the browser. Assistants are usually provided for more cumbersome taks like adding the basic page construct or creating tables.
Text editors require at least a basic understanding of HTML and CSS for creating Web sites.
WYSIWYG editors provide an editing interface which looks the same way as the output displayed in the Web browser. A WYSIWYG editor does not require the user to have any HTML knowledge which makes it a lot easier for the average computer user to create a Web site. But this editors are also heavily criticized by Web specialist mainly for two reasons: This editors don't usually write valid HTML code and WYSIWYG does not make sense for HTML.
Valid HTML code
HTML is a heavily structured markup language. There are certain rules how HTML must be written as defined by the W3C standards. Following this rules allows for sites that are also accessible to handicapped people and to small devices like mobile phones or PDAs.
WYSIWYG editor usually fail to adhere to this rules. This has been the main point of criticism since the first introduction of this editors. But on the other hand they have greatly improved on this point since then.
HTML is not WYSIWYG
It is very difficult even for advanced HTML programmers to write a visual appealing Web site that looks the same on every Web browser. This has two reasons. First, HTML was not intended for designing but for transporting information. Additionally every Web browser has bugs and does not display HTML fully like the standard intended. So the target "what you see is what you get" is very difficult to impossible to reach.