This article features the top ten myths associated with HTML editors.
HTML editors play a crucial role in any web-based development. You will utilize HTML editors in some capacity regardless of whether you are creating an application from the ground up or using a built-in WYSIWYG HTML editor to modify an existing web app. It is not recommended to develop web applications without an HTML editor of some kind.
There are two kinds of editors: text-based HTML editors and WYSIWYG HTML editors. Text-based editors provide a code-first development experience. In contrast, WYSIWYG editors offer a visual experience allowing users to create HTML interfaces by dragging and dropping HTML elements. Many editors are available for editing HTML, which has led to some myths about them. We will dispel the top ten of these myths associated with HTML editors.
Myth #1: Editors are easier to use than a text editor.
Text editors provide an application to edit text files. A simple text editor is more than sufficient for basic edits as most source code is made up of text files with different languages and formatting.
The misconception here is that an HTML editor will be easier to use in this scenario. While specialized editors will undoubtedly provide more features, they can be unnecessary for most simple edits. When you are doing a simple edit, quickly starting up a text editor, either a graphical or a CLI, is faster, more efficient, and easier than starting up an HTML editor and editing the files.
Myth #2: Editors have a WYSIWYG view.
As HTML editors are perfect for HTML interfaces, some think all editors consist of a WYSIWYG view by default. However, this is not the case unless it is a WYSIWYG HTML editor where the WYSIWYG functionality is available by default.
The core requirement of an HTML editor is to give modification access to the code base. It requires users to be familiar with a purely code-based development experience. Some editors can integrate WYSIWYG functionality via extensions or third-party plugins, yet they will not provide the same experience or the feature set as a WYSIWYG HTML editor.
Myth #3: Editors have real-time collaboration.
Real-time collaboration allows multiple users to develop their software collaboratively. It usually includes the ability for multiple users to view and modify the same code base or interface while allowing each user to view the others’ changes in real-time. It is an invaluable feature for remote teams to facilitate collaborative development.
However, editors do not offer this functionality as they provide a localized offline development experience. While they are great tools for individual developers, each person will need to rely on other solutions like source control for collaboration. In that case, multiple developers need to verify the code, which will impact the overall delivery pipeline and take more time for additional verifications.
Myth #4: Editors have drag and drop
This is one of the most baffling myths—some users think they can drag and drop HTML elements and create their codebases using an HTML editor. This is entirely against the core tenet of a code-based experience, where users have complete freedom to code as they desire.
The only feasible scenario where drag and drop will be beneficial is designing interfaces with HTML elements such as text boxes and buttons. They can be dragged and dropped to create interfaces or web pages using a WYSIWYG functionality. This provides a visual experience and also automatically generates the underlying HTML. Being able to edit that generated HTML and see it in the WYSIWYG editor is a nice feature that some editors have.
Myth #5: Editors have a preview feature.
Preview functionality is helpful to quickly view your changes and see how they are reflected on the web page. It is essential as minor changes can sometimes drastically change the structure of a website. Assume that you changed the width of a single div element, and it caused the misalignment of all the preceding HTML elements. In that case, a developer can’t identify the error without a preview during the development process.
A standard text-based HTML editor does not provide this functionality. While some may support preview features through extensions or plugins, that feature is not available or enabled in most cases. However, a WYSIWYG HTML editor comes with preview features, allowing developers to view their modifications in real-time.
Myth #6: WYSIWYG editors are the best.
WYSIWYG editors provide a more uncomplicated and straightforward experience with features such as drag and drop and live previews as a part of their core functionality. However, this does not mean that WYSIWYG editors are the best solution for all development needs.
Myth #7: I don’t need to know HTML. All I need is a WYSIWYG editor.
A WYSIWYG editor generates the HTML code for the design you create through the visual interface of the editor. Moreover, it allows you to further customize each element with additional properties and settings.
Knowing HTML is essential when using a WYSIWYG editor. You need to know at least the basics of HTML to understand the structure of a web page and the functionality and attributes of each HTML element to further customize the feel and functionality. It’s nearly impossible to start any web-based development without HTML knowledge.
Myth #8: All WYSIWYG editors use codeless editing.
While it’s evident that all WYSIWYG editors provide a visual interface, this does not correlate to a completely codeless editing experience. Even with the generated code, at times you will need more granular control over the HTML elements or need to implement a custom style or format that the WYSIWYG editor does not support. Therefore, most editors allow users to edit the generated source code.
WYSIWYG editors are evolving rapidly, and now their interfaces can accommodate almost all the necessary functionality. However, the ability to modify code will still remain a must-have feature for the foreseeable future. Not all editors allow you to edit the HTML code directly and see your changes in the WYSIWYG editor.
Myth #9: Once you establish the template, you don’t have to edit the code.
This common myth says that creating a template makes further modifications unnecessary. But this is far from the truth. The web is constantly evolving, and one technology or feature that is relevant today can become obsolete the next day. When you combine this evolving technological landscape with security implications, user requirements will insist on changing your templates.
Suppose you have an extensible template that can accommodate many functionalities without modifications. In that case, you will likely need to update the template by editing the source code. Not only that, even a simple change like incorporating a page will necessitate tweaking the code. The more complex the requirement is, the more changes are needed to the underlying code. In some situations like theme or structure changes, users must recreate the template completely and perform code-level modifications to help ensure that the site’s functionality is fully compatible with the new theme and the structure.
Myth #10: WYSIWYG edits are what you see on the screen.
This final myth is the simplest to dispel. Some users think that the editor will change the screen’s display. This is false; a WYSIWYG editor generates the HTML code to facilitate the user’s changes via the visual interface of the editor. The underlying codebase will change for each modification.
As the code changes, the WYSIWYG editor ensures that what the user has created is compatible with and will be rendered as intended across any browser, operating system, and device.
Ready to build HTML pages?
I hope we have helped to dispel some myths around HTML editors for you in this article. We have explored the top 10 myths that plague HTML editors as a whole, plus we provided explanations to bust those myths. Any HTML editor is an invaluable tool for any developer. Therefore, selecting a proper HTML editor is key to creating an efficient workflow.
A good editor will provide the best balance between functionality and ease of use. A WYSIWYG editor such as Froala offers a fast, secure, feature-rich, and user-forced editing experience with built-in accessibility and globalization features. You can utilize those features to cater to a wide variety of audiences. So why not get a free trial of Froala HTML Editor? It could be perfect for your next development project!