Thursday, March 01, 2007

Take a New Vu on Your Website

NvuI've been asked occasionally by clients, friends, family, acquaintances, and the occasional stranger walking down the street whether they should maintain their own website. My response has in general been an unequivocal "Maybe". The biggest problem was that if you wanted to actually edit a web page, you either went out and purchased a graphical web page editor (such as Dreamweaver) or you delved into the scary world of HTML yourself. The problem with the first is that those packages tended to be a little expensive ($400 on the Adobe website). The problem with the second was that, if you didn't know what you were doing, you might unwittingly change something which ended up causing the text on your website to blink in bold, red, italic font (not a pretty picture).

Then a few days ago I discovered nvu ("new view").

This cool little program is a fairly complete HTML editor. If you can handle a word processor, you can probably handle making simple web pages. If you can create a newsletter with multiple columns, pictures, captions, and a variety of fonts, you should feel right at home building gorgeous web pages.

Now, nvu isn't a perfect tool. In particular, its publishing mechanism, which should allow you to automatically upload your website to your hosting service, doesn't seem to work properly. Or at least I wasn't able to get it to work after an hour of study. Also, it can only handle HTML files (those which end in ".html" or ".htm"). If you have a more advanced site populated with PHP or ASP scripts (URLs which end in ".php" or ".asp") or scripts running out of the CGI directory (which usually contain "cgi-bin" somewhere in the URL), then you should consult with your webmaster first as nvu probably won't be able to help you.

Still for all that, this is a neat little tool especially for those who want to try to maintain their own site. It's free and it runs on Windows, Mac, and a variety of flavors of Unix. Give it a try (just be sure to save a copy of whatever it is you are going to work on).

So, how would you use this tool to update your site?

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