Powerful Open Source Web Editor (IDE)

Blane Warrene

The emergence and now near dominance of sophisticated WYSIWYG editors has been a source of pleasure and pain for web designers and developers. Tools such as Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive and even Microsoft’s Front Page have saved countless hours utilizing templating and other automation functions.

One central part of the success of these editors has been the integrated development environment (IDE) that includes remote publishing, file and revision management, ties to other applications such as image editors and access to underlying source code.

There are pros and cons for each, and I must admit my own bias toward Dreamweaver, having used it since 1999 on Mac and Windows platforms. One of my main complaints has nothing to do with the editors other than I cannot run them on my primary Linux development workstation. That problem appears to be somewhat resolved courtesy of NVU.

NVU, built off of the Mozilla Composer’s source base, is a new open source solution that spans multiple operating systems (Windows, Macintosh and Linux) — however — its primary goal is a comprehensive IDE for Linux.

Funded by Linspire, the project is led by former AOL/Netscape developer Daniel Glazman and the IDE looks like an excellent starting point. It features many of the same functions and capability as those commercial solutions, including complex CSS and JavaScript editing, tabbed workspaces, a site manager for publishing to multiple locations within the editing environment and more.

The NVU web site states the program supports templating capabilities – however – in loading and using the software I have yet to find a clear method. Though it does not need to necessarily mimic, for example, the Dreamweaver method of templating, Macromedia does handle templates quite well. While we can all template on our own using either the native include functions of Apache and other web servers or a scripting language, a widget of some sort for templating internal to NVU would be fantastic.

If NVU hopes to pull over more and more developers to the tool, perhaps a path to migrate templating from those aforementioned tools would also be a valuable add-in.

Being an open source project, I am sure NVU will also welcome those who can contribute to the IDE. Along with templating, perhaps an integrated ODBC connection manager, type ahead libraries and native support for sftp (although one could use MindTerm to resolve that).