Today’s websites require HTML5 to function in conjunction with other markup languages and online technologies. The Internet looks and works vastly different than it did in the 1990s when it first became popular with the public.
The fifth revision of its basic building block, HTML created a new syntax. No longer SGML based; the markup language remains backward compatible with earlier versions of HTML.
Designers have a choice between cloud apps and local software in HTML5 editors, too. Some software allows you to work in both manners, such as the offerings from Adobe and Microsoft. You can use any text editor to author an HTML5 file, just as you can with other versions of HTML5. So, why would you want a software specially designed for authoring HTML5?
You can get started quickly and jump-start your design process by using an editor specifically made to design HTML5 websites. Here is a quick synopsis of the top eight choices.
Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
Xara Designer Pro X
Xara Designer Pro X offers more flexibility than other Xara products. You get an all-in-one software suite that integrates graphic and web design, image editing and illustration plus DTP. The vector graphics options ensure you do not lose quality when you adjust the scale of the design.
You do not need to know how to design graphics to use Xara because you also get access to its online content catalog with more than one million free stock photos, graphics and illustrations plus SmartShapes for dressing up tables and menus. Its web design tools offer templates plus the ability to fully edit them. It, like Adobe, offers a responsive design helper.
The software also includes 2 GB of web storage and one domain for the first year of domain purchase. On top of its web design features, it also features a desktop publishing component.
Mercury Editor takes a different approach. It only offers a code editor, but a feature-rich one. It lets the designer assign different types of editable regions in a single page of HTML5. A single, integrated toolbar makes it simple to edit each region of the page. You can drag and drop files, edit features on block elements, so you can apply CSS in ways other editors do not allow.
Work using full HTML or using simple or markdown views. You can also edit code snippets and image regions. The preview mode lets the web designer edit content and insert URLs, tables, images and videos. If you have ever used TinyMCE or CKEditor, this has all those features, but more advanced ones, too. While you cannot edit the other items in this software, you can easily integrate them.
Microsoft Expression Studio
The extremely versatile Expression Studio lets you design websites, desktop experiences and Silverlight content. The Studio includes Expression Design, Expression Blend, Expression Web, SuperPreview, SketchFlow, and Expression Encoder Pro.
The full design suite lets you design the HTML5 code and the graphic pieces. Integrate everything in a single window. An investment in this suite of software means you already own what you need to build a website, desktop designs and online video content that integrates with Microsoft Silverlight, the typical software for protected video content.
Like Frontpage, it only works with older versions of the Windows operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista and (don’t laugh) Windows XP Service Pack 3.
The open-source project Maqetta uses a WYSIWYG visual editor to let you author HTML5 websites and interfaces. It runs in your web browser as a cloud app. It requires no plugins or downloads. A project of the Dojo Initiative, it runs in any browser, including Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.
This option goes halfway between an essential editor and a design suite. If you know how to code already, this can work well for you so long as you only need to design websites. You would need another software package to design desktop interfaces or apps.
Aptana Studio 3
Aptana lets you build the website, its responsive design components and your apps, too. Everything will match perfectly. Everything will work together. Its open-source nature lets you add to its improvement when you notice something it lacks that would allow Aptana to function more efficiently and more productively. That means for heavy-duty coders, you can help others by improving the design studio.
The web development gem comes available as an Eclipse plug-in or a stand-alone version. It is compatible with every major browser and includes support for up-to-date browser technologies.
You do not have to travel to Hawaii to use Aloha Editor. Another open-source option, it is distributed under GPL v2. This cloud app offers you a browser-based a standalone library using a stateless, functional API that provides editing capabilities not typically available in cloud apps.
It loads quickly at a tiny size of 142KB. Easily create HTML5 websites or edit piecemeal sections, such as tickers, accordions, sliders or image descriptions in slideshows. Save to a cloud space or save to your hard drive.
Choosing the Right Software
When it comes down to choosing for yourself, you need to choose the software that offers what you need that integrates with the other software you typically use. Very few completely free options exist that actually work well. You need to be prepared to spend at least $200 on software. You can try the free, browser-based versions first, but expect them to have limitations. You probably will find it much easier to work with a locally installed software that integrates with other software like the Adobe or Microsoft options.
While more advanced options might seem daunting, starting with an Adobe level software means only having to purchase one software. Most high-end options have WYSIWYG editors, so you can drag and drop items to design the page. That lets you learn the ropes of design because you can visually design, then examine the code created from it to learn where each item goes and which code pieces connect with which content.
The full design suites also do more than just HTML5 which speeds your design and means you need to purchase less software since you get an integrated graphics editor and an HTML validator in the suites. With the right choice, you can also design for desktops or create apps. If you need these options or expect your design needs to grow in that direction, a choice like Expression Studio makes sense. Since most Microsoft products are also available in the cloud, you can work from anywhere.
You need to decide if you would rather work on your design on a locally installed copy of the software or if you would prefer to work in the cloud. While most cloud apps are only editors, you can find options that also include validators or limited graphic editor integrations. Working in the cloud increases your transportability of work projects. Working on a locally installed software provides more flexible software, typically.
The choice of software depends on you and your needs. What you want to design with it, how flexible you need it to be and how much you can spend on your software decides which you choose.