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 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.
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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.
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.