7 Linux web editors that get the job done

Break free from the torment of Emacs and into a visual world

There's also native integration with CVS, without having to use an external program as an interface to get at your code. The left-hand pane enables you to flick easily between different tools, quickly view and work with file trees, and view your document by the different tags and elements that you've used.

There's also a generous area below the editing window to display any messages or errors that crop up during development, but we found ourselves minimising this to give us more working space.

In common with Bluefish, you also get line numbering from the word go, making any debugging a straightforward affair. However, there's no graphical element to Screem, so you won't find the ability to quickly preview your page here. Strangely, however, the program does include a Print Preview icon in the toolbar.

If you're an experienced web developer we would recommend Screem to you, but it's definitely not a tool for the beginner.

Verdict: Geared more towards the advanced developer, this is a formidable tool. 7/10

6. Kompozer
Licence: Free under multiple licences
Website: www.kompozer.net

A few years ago an application called Nvu came onto the market. It was commonly found on Lindows – the desktop Linux environment from the principle developers and trademark owners, Linspire. Unfortunately Nvu development ceased, which was a bit of a blow, because it was a great alternative to Windows applications such as FrontPage.

Thankfully, a fork was created to carry on the work that Nvu started under the new name of Kompozer. This development work has primarily focused on bugfixes for Nvu, which had a reputation for being buggy when it was discontinued, so what are the results like?

First off, the interface looks at home in either Gnome or KDE, and reminds us of FrontPage from a few years back. It's relatively clear from clutter and provides easy access to text formatting options. There's also a useful site manager pane on the left that enables you to keep an eye on the files you're using for your new site.

As it's a graphical editor, you essentially work on the finished product rather than having to rely on switching to a preview, but there's the opportunity to switch to Source view if needed. There's also a decent amount of code highlighting available should you feel the need to tweak the underlying code.

Compared with the other environments, Kompozer is very focused on web development, only enabling you to work with HTML and XHTML pages. We would have liked the ability to natively edit CSS files, but this isn't a major problem, because you can include page-wide styles within the code.

Where Kompozer really lacks is in coding functionality – a reflection on its novice-friendly stance.

Verdict: A reasonable graphical editor, constructed mainly for novices. 6/10

7. Composer
Licence: Free under the Mozilla Public Licence
Website: www.seamonkey-project.org

Did you use Netscape, or can you still remember the original Mozilla browser? If so, you'll surely recall Composer with deweyeyed fondness. As a tool for new and would-be web developers, it was a great avenue into elementary HTML coding.

Given the name, it should come as no surprise that Composer is the underlying foundation of Kompozer, which is pretty obvious when you return to Kompozer after having used Composer for some time. Admittedly that might be a bit of a logical stretch, because in 2009 it's very difficult to see anyone working with Composer for any great deal of time.

It's not that it is particularly limited; it has all the editing tools you'll need, along with quick and easy access to text formatting. It's more of a case that it's basic and frustratingly short of handy features such as the great reference system found in Bluefish, or Kompozer's site manager. That said, if all you're looking for is a simple editor to make minor changes to a web page then Composer easily fits that bill.