Tools for web site development and testing

A variety of software programs are available to help developers of web sites. Some of these tools are listed below to illustrate the range of skills a web site designer will need; an advanced web site may be built using tools from each of these categories since even the most advanced tools may not have the flexibility of the basic tools.

Basic text editors

Text editors are used to edit HTML tags. For example, '<B>Products</B>' will make the enclosed text display bold within the web browser. Such tools are often available at low cost or free - including the Notepad editor included with Windows. They are very flexible, and all web site developers will need to use them at some stage in developing content since more automated tools may not provide this flexibility and may not support the latest standard commands. Entire sites can be built using these tools, but it is more efficient to use the more advanced tools described below, and use the editors for 'tweaking' content.

Specialised HTML and graphics editors

Specialised HTML and graphics editing tools provide facilities for adding HTML tags automatically. For example, adding the Bold text tag <B> </B> to the HTML document will happen when the user clicks the bold tag. Some of these editors are WYSIWYG. Examples of standard tools include Microsoft FrontPage Express (www.microsoft.com) and the more sophisticated and widely used tool Dreamweaver (www.macromedia.com).

More advanced tools include content management systems which are today essential for any site which is frequently updated to support marketing. This topic is discussed further in Chapter 9. They provide advanced content editing facilities, but also provide tools to help manage and test the site, including graphic layouts of the structure of the site - making it easy to find, modify and re-publish the page. Style templates can be applied to produce a consistent 'look and feel' across the site. Tools are also available to create and manage menu options. Examples of graphics tools include:

• Adobe Photoshop (extensively used by graphic designers, www.adobe.com);

• Macromedia Flash and Director-Shockwave (used for graphical animations, www.macromedia.com).

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