How to Write Markup?

HTML, XHTML, and XML are best written using a plain text editor. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors such as Microsoft Word aren’t ideally suited for mark-up because the environment is not ideal for the composition of source code.

WYSIWYG programs often have features like AutoCorrection and line wrapping; a plain text editor is more appealing precisely because it does not have these automatic features. Furthermore, the more automated WYSIWYG editors are designed to write the source code for you behind the scenes, so you don’t have complete control over the structure and formatting of the source code.

In contrast, a plain text editor doesn’t insert anything into the source code beyond what you type into the text editor. The Windows Notepad program is one example of a text editor that is ideal for composing source code. To launch Notepad, choose Start > Run and then type Notepad in the Open text box.

You can also use Microsoft FrontPage, but FrontPage is best used in view source mode where you can edit the source code directly instead of via the WYSIWYG interface. The same holds true for Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. If Notepad is just too basic for your tastes, a text editor that highlights markup and CSS syntax might suit your needs better.

The following are full-featured alternative text editors for Windows:

Using Windows, you must create HTML files with the .html extension. If you use Notepad, beware of Windows saving your files with a .txt extension, which does not display files properly in a browser.

To ensure that your files are saved properly, choose StartRun and type Explorer (or right-click Start and choose Explore from the pop-up window) to open Windows Explorer.

After Windows Explorer is open, choose ToolsFolder Options to open the Folder Options window; click the View tab, and uncheck the Hide Extensions for Known File Types box. Then click OK. Now that you’re armed with a text editor to compose your source code.