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BBEdit HTML Tools

BBEdit HTML Tools, like the BBEdit HTML Extensions, requires... BBEdit <URL:>. Not only do these extensions provide the "usual suspects" of HTML markup options, but they also come with features like:

Starting with the "usual suspects", BBEdit HTML Tools provides the capability to create hot links through a specialized dialog box. From this dialog box you select the elements of a URL from popup menus and buttons. In turn the URL is created for you; you can not simply enter a URL. The same concept is used in the creation of FORMS.

Creating lists is a pleasure with HTML Tools because it can indent the items in your lists making them easier to distinguish later on.

HTML Tools makes liberal use of Balloon Help.

HTML Tools includes a HTML validation routine. Simply select "Check markup" from the "Utilities" menu and HTML tools creates list of errors in your HTML. (Upon trying this out HTML Tools produced a list of errors including the message "Unknown or malformed tag", and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong.)

HTML Tools includes a preview option, but unlike other browsers it you have the option of previewing your document graphically with a Macintosh-based browser as well as throughout BBEdit itself as if BBEdit were a vt100 terminal. Using this feature you can get an idea of what your HTML will look like for people using Lynx, a vt100, character-cell browser.

The ability to create, update, and use template files is a real strength of these BBEdit extensions. To use the template you first create on by hand, save it, and then use the "Preferences" button of the "Utilities" menu to specify your template file. Then, the next time you choose "New" from the "File" menu your template file will be used. To enhance the template functionality, HTML Tools allows you to include a number of placeholders in your template. These placeholders include variables for: title, user name, time, server, whether or not the document is an ISINDEX, as well as others. By placing the variables associated with these placeholders into your template file, the the placeholders are updated dynamically. Furthermore, you can create "include" placeholders. These placeholders can be used to insert entire text like standard headers and footer.

On the down side of HTML Tools is that none of the options are immediately available. In other words, to get anything done with HTML Tools you must either select more than one menu option and go through at least one dialog box, or you must enter quite a number of keyboard commands before anything will happen. For example, to get a preview of your document requires first saving the document, second invoking the preview dialog box, and last choosing the dialog mode. Similarly, to insert a paragraph mark (<p>) you must choose a menu item then go through a dialog box.

Because of HTML Tools validation routines and template files, these extension are well worth examination, especially if you already use BBEdit as your text editor.

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This page was first published on September 26, 1995. Feel free to send comments.