Picking an HTML Editor for E-books

When it comes to E-books, I find nothing can replace a good Find/Replace text editor.

html editors dogpile

Past and present HTML editors

Even if you start your E-books in InDesign, QuarkXPress, or Microsoft Word, chances are pretty good you will end them in an HTML editor. An HTML editor—wait for it—helps you edit HTML. They also edit CSS, and many also handle Javascript. You’ll need to get an HTML editor. Since I run a small press, I own Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe CS 6). I thus use Dreamweaver CS 6 as my HTML editor, and my screenshots and advice will use this program, too. Adobe Creative Cloud is a newer version of this software, which you can “rent” from Adobe for $19-$39 per month depending on your needs. It is nice, but it is pricey. Here are some free or low-cost HTML editors you might want to consider if the Adobe Suite is too much for you:

  • Web Editor 2.0 from Coffee Cup Software (Mac only).
  • The HTML Editor 14.1 from Coffee Cup Software (Windows only).
  • Trellian WebPage from Trellian Software (Windows only).
  • Thimble Webmaker from the Mozilla foundation (Web only; you must be online to use it).
  • Sigil from the Sigil team. Sigil is an open-source editor specifically designed for EPUB production. It’s not a full-fledged HTML editor, but it behaves as one in most respects. Development of Sigil was on hiatus for a few months in mid-2014, but it has come back with a new release for Fall 2014. Even though we own Dreamweaver, we’ll use Sigil later on in this tutorial to make our Table of Contents (Mac, Windows, UNIX).
  • oXygen XML Author, by Syncro Soft. This is a dedicated EPUB program, but pricey. They have a subscription plan, if the up-front cost is prohibitive. XML is the foundation for HTML5,
  • ___(Your preferred software here)___

It’s worth asking several people for recommendations about HTML editors; you’ll be spending a lot of time with yours. Look for one that offers a split view to see your code alongside your design, and one with really good find/replace features.

dreamweaver split view

Dreamweaver’s Split view is a thing of beauty

Few pieces of advice will go stale as fast as this post. The Kindle format evolves slowly, PDFs have been around forever, and HTML5 will be the lingua franca of the Internet well into 2020. But editors? They come and go quickly. Even now, Adobe is updating its Creative Cloud with features my DWCS6 suite can’t match, and Sigil shut down and started back up again while I was writing up this project. So take this post as a starting point, not a comprehensive list of current options.

(Updated on Sept 24 to welcome Sigil back from hiatus.)

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Picking an HTML Editor for E-books

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