The issue that most people have with creating their own website is that they don’t know how to do it. They can figure out how to get a host, a domain, and even a .com if they want it. Where they run into trouble is the part of the process where you take a design and make it into HTML (the backbone of a lot of websites.) If that is what is holding you back, then fret no more. BlueGriffon, a free Open Source WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor based on the Firefox rendering engine, is here to help.
I don’t think that its important for me to take you through the steps of implementing a design using BlueGriffon. What I am going to do for this review is let you know what I think are the biggest strengths and short comings of the software. All screenshots will be from the Mac OS X version of the software, but there are clients available for Windows and Linux as well.
What BlueGriffon Does Right
I think its best to start with what BlueGriffon gets right. In my time playing with it and testing it out, I found myself loving the ability to manipulate my images and text and have code written for me. While I have some experience writing in HTML, I sometimes find parts of it cumbersome, like arranging images. This is one of the best things about BlueGriffon, and any WYSIWYG editor. You can move things around, and the code automatically updates to reflect the changes.
One of the biggest plusses for BlueGriffon is the range of HTML that it can support. Not only does it support the more basic HTML 4 version of the standard language, but it also supports HTML 5. HTML 5 has become very popular among developers, and is considered the gold standard at the moment. One major reason for this being such a big deal is Apple’s iOS, which supports HTML 5, but not Flash, which HTML 5 is sort of designed to replace.
BlueGriffon has also found a great price point (FREE!) for an editor of this caliber. While the stock set of features is a little bare for my professional needs, which we will talk about later, it would be perfect for an amateur just looking to set up a simple webpage. On top of being great for amateurs, its one of the first free cross-platform editors of its kind. That has a special place in my heart because, while I write and work on a Mac, a large part of my development and web design is done on a Windows machine.
What BlueGriffon Gets Wrong
As I said above, BlueGriffon doesn’t come with all the features I look for in a web development toolkit out of the box. These features are available, but they cost money. One of the things I really need is an advanced CSS editor, which BlueGriffon offers as an ‘add-on’ for around $15 USD, or 9.99 Euros. Another add-on that I wish came with the suite is the FTP uploader. While i understand the reasoning behind selling these more advanced features as add-ons, it is sad to see them not be made free like the main program.
Final Verdict On BlueGriffon
BlueGriffon presents its self as the “next-generation Web Editor.” While I agree that it has some fo the best potential and features of any free web editor I have come across, it doesn’t exactly live up to its name. If you need to do simple HTML work, or if you are looking to write in HTML 5, then I would check out BlueGriffon. However, if you are an advanced user, then you will probably need to buy some add-ons.
It is important to note that, even with all the add-ons, BlueGriffon is one of the most affordable web editing suites around. If you are int he market for a web editor, I recommend you check out BlueGriffon. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and the download itself is Free.
Final Rating: 4/5, for a freemium model for HTML editors.