First up, we'll need to meddle with markup and code—lots of markup, CSS, PHP, and jQuery. So, you'll need a good code or HTML editor. Dreamweaver is a great option (http://www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver/), although I prefer to use Coda for Mac (http://www.panic.com/coda/). Before I discovered working with Coda, I was very happy with the free editor TextWrangler (http://www.barebones. com/products/textwrangler/). When I was working on a PC, I loved the free text/ code editor HTML-kit (http://www.htmlkit.com/).
There are thousands of editors out there, some free, some expensive, and with varying degrees of features. Just about every developer and designer I've talked to, uses something different and has a ten-minute "schpiel" about why their editor is the best. Ultimately, any HTML or text editor that lets you enable the following features will work just great. I recommend you enable/use all of the following:
• View line numbers: This comes in very handy during the validation and debugging process. It can help you find specific lines in a jQuery script, theme, or plugin file, for which a validation tool has returned a fix. This is also helpful for other theme or plugin instructions given by their author, which refer to a specific line of code that might need customizing or editing under different conditions.
• View syntax colors: Any worthwhile code and HTML editor has this feature usually set as a default. The good editors let you choose your own colors. This displays code and other markup in a variety of colors, making it easier to distinguish various types of syntax. Many editors also help you identify broken XHTML markup, CSS rules, or PHP code.
• View non-printing characters: You might not want this feature turned on all the time. It makes it possible to see hard returns, spaces, tabs, and other special characters that you may or may not want in your markup and code.
• Text wrapping: This of course lets you wrap text within the window, so you won't have to scroll horizontally to edit a long line of code. It's best to learn what the key-command shortcut is for this feature in your editor, and/or set up a key-command shortcut for it. You'll find it easier to scroll through unwrapped, nicely-indented, markup and PHP code to quickly get a general overview or find your last stopping point; however, you will still want to turn wrapping on quickly so you can easily see and focus your attention on one long line of code.
• Load files with FTP or local directories: An editor that allows you to connect through FTP or see your local working directory in a side panel, is extremely helpful. It saves you from having to manually find files locally in your OS explorer or finder, or from having to upload through an additional FTP client. Being able to connect to your files in a single application just speeds up your workflow.
Free open source HTML editors:
I've also used Nvu (http://www.net2.com/nvu/) and KompoZer (http://kompozer.net/). They're both free, open source, and available for Mac, PC, and Linux platforms. KompoZer was made from the same source as Nvu and, apparently, fixes some issues that Nvu has. (I haven't run into any major issue with Nvu myself). Both editors are too limited for my regular use, but I do like being able to format HTML text quickly and drag-and-drop form objects onto a page. Both editors have a Source view, but you must be careful while switching between the Normal and the Source view tabs. Nvu and KompoZer are a little too helpful, and will try to rewrite your handcoded markup if you haven't set your preferences properly!
Linux users of Ubuntu and Debian (and Mac users with Fink) might also be interested in checking out the Bluefish editor (http://bluefish. openoffice.nl). I use Bluefish when working on Ubuntu Linux. I prefer it when on Linux, though it's robust enough to probably be considered more of an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), similar to Eclipse (http://www.eclipse.org), rather than just a basic code or HTML editor. Many of you may find that a tool like Bluefish or Eclipse is overkill for your general WordPress development and maintenance needs. On the other hand, if you're serious about WordPress development, they may have features you find invaluable and they are worth downloading and checking out.
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