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The 10 Best Free Web Editors for Windows

Free HTML Editors for Windows

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I have evaluated over 100 web page editors for Windows against over 40 different criteria relevant to professional web designers, web developers, small business owners, and beginning web designers. The following editors are the 10 best free web page editors for Windows, both WYSIWYG and text editors, in order from best to worst.

Each editor below will have a score, percentage, and a link to a more detailed review. All reviews were completed between October 2013 and February 2014. And this list was compiled on February 24, 2014. The editors were ranked based on their scores for Web Designers. But in the case of a tie, I explain the order below.

If you’re still not sure which editor to choose, then fill in my questionnaire: Web Design Software: Which One is Right for You?

See all the free web editor reviews.

1. Microsoft WebMatrix Profile

Microsoft WebMatrix
Screen shot by J Kyrnin courtesy Microsoft

 WebMatrix has really improved since version 2 and version 3 adds a lot of useful features that rocket it to the top of the list. It's not a WYSIWYG editor, but it has a lot of features that make it inviting to the enterprising beginner. One thing I like best about WebMatrix is how it will help you install various open source tools like mySQL databases or PHP onto your web server if you don't already have them there. It has lots of plugins available for things like shopping carts, mobile support and more. This is a pretty amazing free editor.

Version: 3
Score:
Web Designers: 53.2%
Web Developers: 63.7%
Small Business: 48.6%
Beginners: 45.8%
 

2. Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

Aptana Studio is an interesting take on web page development. Instead of focusing on the HTML, Aptana focuses on the JavaScript and other elements that allow you to create Rich Internet Applications. One of the things I really like is the outline view that makes it really easy to visualize the DOM. This makes for easier CSS and JavaScript development. If you are a developer creating web applications, Aptana Studio is a good choice.

Version: 3
Score:
Web Designers: 49.1%
Web Developers: 62.2%
Small Business: 33.4%
Beginners: 32.3%

3. Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

Komodo Edit is my favorite text web editor. It includes a lot of great features for HTML and CSS development. Plus, if that isn't enough, you can get extensions for it to add on languages or other helpful features (like special characters). It's not the best HTML editor, but it's great for for the price, especially if you build in XML. I use Komodo Edit every day for my work in XML and I use it a lot for basic HTML editing as well. This is one editor I'd be lost without.

There are two versions of Komodo: Komodo Edit and Komodo IDE. Komodo Edit is open source and free to download. It is a trimmed down version of the IDE. 

Komodo Edit tied with Eclipse and CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor for Web Designers. I placed it first because it scores better for the other three categories (Web Developers, Small Business, and Beginners). 

Version: 8
Score:
Web Designers: 39.8%
Web Developers: 59.8%
Small Business: 25.0%
Beginners: 24.8%

4. Eclipse

Eclipse
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

Eclipse is a complex development environment that is perfect for people who do a lot of coding on various different platforms and with different languages. It is structured as plug-ins so if you need to edit something, you just find the appropriate plug-in and go. If you are creating complex web applications, Eclipse has a lot of features to help make your application easier to build. There are Java, JavaScript, and PHP plugins, as well as a plugin for mobile developers.

I ranked Eclipse second because it has a much higher Web Developer score than CoffeeCup (it tied with Komodo Edit there too). 

Version: 4
Score:
Web Designers: 39.8%
Web Developers: 59.8%
Small Business: 23.9%
Beginners: 19.1%

5. CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor

CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

The CoffeeCup Free HTML editor is a text editor with a lot of potential. A lot of the features it has in the menus require that you buy the full version. The free version is a good HTML editor, but I would recommend you purchase the full version of the editor to get the real juice from this product. One important thing to note: many sites list this editor as a free WYSIWYG editor, but when I tested, you have to buy CoffeeCup Visual Editor to get WYSIWYG support. The free version is a very nice text editor only.

This editor scored equally well as Eclipse and Komodo Edit for Web Designers. It ranks 5th because it didn't rank as well for Web Developers, but if you are a beginner to web design and development or you're a small business owner, this tool has more features appropriate to you than either Komodo Edit or Eclipse.

Version: 10
Score:
Web Designers: 39.8%
Web Developers: 48.5%
Small Business: 48.6%
Beginners: 45.8%

6. NetBeans

NetBeans
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

NetBeans IDE is a Java IDE that can help you build robust web applications. Like most IDEs it has a steep learning curve because they don’t often work in the same way that web editors do. But once you get used to it you’ll be hooked. One nice feature is the version control included in the IDE which is really useful for people working in large development environments. If you write Java and web pages this is a great tool.

Version: 7
Score:
Web Designers: 37.7%
Web Developers: 52.2%
Small Business: 21.7%
Beginners: 19.4%

7. Microsoft Visual Studio Express

Visual Studio
Screen shot by J Kyrnin courtesy Microsoft

Microsoft Visual Studio Express is a visual IDE to help web developers and other programmers get started creating applications for the web, mobile devices, and the desktop. There are versions of Express specifically for web development, Windows 8 development, Windows desktop development, and Windows Phone development. This tool is built to help you get familiar with the Visual Studio IDE platform where you can do even more than you can with Express.

Version: 2013
Score: 
Web Designers: 36.9%
Web Developers: 40.6%
Small Business: 21.7%
Beginners: 19.4%

8. BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon
Screen shot by J Kyrnin - courtesy BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon is the latest in the series of web page editors that started with Nvu, went on to KompoZer and now culminates in BlueGriffon. It is a free WYSIWYG editor for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux. And it will build your pages in HTML5 (both XHTML and HTML) as well as HTML 4. 

This is the only WYSIWYG editor that made this list, and as such it will be more appealing for many beginners and small business owners. 

Version: 1
Score: 
Web Designers: 32.4%
Web Developers: 28.4%
Small Business: 43.0%
Beginners: 49.9%

9. Bluefish

Bluefish
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

Bluefish is a full featured web editor for Linux that also runs on Windows and Macintosh. And the 2.0 release adds a lot of great new features. There is code-sensitive spell check, auto complete of many different languages (HTML, PHP, CSS, etc.), snippets, project management, and auto-save. It is primarily a code editor, not specifically a web editor. This means that it has a lot of flexibility for web developers writing in more than just HTML, but if you’re a designer by nature you might not like it as much.

Version: 2
Score:
Web Designers: 31.5%
Web Developers: 43.4%
Small Business: 21.5%
Beginners: 23.5%

10. Emacs

Emacs
Screen shot by J Kyrnin

Like vi, Emacs is found on most Linux systems which makes it easy for you to edit a page even if you don't have your standard software. Emacs is a lot more complicated than vi and so offers more features, but I find it harder to use. Feature highlights: XML support, scripting support, advanced CSS support, and a built-in validator, as well as color coded HTML editing.

This editor is really intimidating to anyone who isn't comfortable writing plain HTML in a text editor. But if you are and your host offers Emacs, it is a great, very powerful tool.

Version: 24
Score: 
Web Designers: 28.7%
Web Developers: 44.1%
Small Business: 16.1%
Beginners: 15.3%

What is your favorite HTML editor? Write a review!

Do you have a Web editor that you absolutely love or positively hate? Write a review of your HTML editor and let others know which editor you think is the best.
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