What Are Web Authoring Tools?

By Joanne Mendes

Web authoring tools are used to create Web content, and cover a wide range of software programs you can download to your computer or access online. The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3, issues guidelines for web authoring tools that create a basic industry standard for web accessibility. The guidelines encourage web-authoring tool manufacturers to include specific features in their products that will aid Internet users with disabilities. All of the major web-authoring tool manufacturers follow the W3 guidelines.

Word Processors

Word processors like Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or OpenOffice Writer are some of the most popular web authoring tools available. Users can create a Web page just as they would a printable document and then save it in HTML format, creating a quick and easy web page. Because users are usually familiar with the word processor on their computers, creating HTML pages with the same program represents a low learning curve. These usually present content in a what you see is what you get format, or WYSIWYG, meaning how the page appears on the screen is how it will appear when it's online.

Desktop Publishing Programs

Desktop publishing programs, like Adobe InDesign and Scribus are designed for producing material like newspapers, magazines, books and Web pages. Like word processors, desktop publishing programs provide a WYSIWYG interface. Their advanced Web authoring options, such as page layout and style elements, give users more control over the page's appearance. These programs also support multimedia objects, like images, graphics or audio files. Completed pages can be converted to both HTML and CSS files.

Online Web Page Builders

Website hosting sites usually offer their customers many web-authoring tool options to create and maintain their web pages online. Tools can include Web page builders, shopping systems, audio/visual editors and domain options.The builders incorporate many web authoring tools, including word processing, graphic editing, templates and layout schemes. Webpage builders have two main editing options: HTML or a non-HTML interface. Users who have limited HTML knowledge can use the non-HTML interface to drop and drag items to create layouts and use the text option to type in content.

HTML Editors

HTML editing programs like Adobe Dreamweaver are some of the most powerful web authoring tools available. They are generally used by professional Web designers to create commercial websites. Most HTML editors are similar to web-page builders in offering users HTML or non-HTML interfaces. The non-HTML interface allows the user to see how the web page will look when it is uploaded to the Internet. HTML editors are used to type raw code, much as one would in a plain text document like a word processor, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript or XML. Most of the work is performed using a built-in text editor. HTML editors feature HTML validation checkers that will run through a web page and check for markup errors and accessibility validation issues.

Plain Text Editors

Basic text editors like Notepad are also a useful Web authoring tool for those familiar with the code. Unlike word processors or desktop publishing programs, plain text editors do not apply additional code to what appears in the document. Plain text editors are also useful for quickly making edits to completed pages that require updates.