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Website editing software can be anything from a free text editor that came packaged with an operating system (OS) to an expensive package capable of dealing with things like cascading style sheets (CSS) and extended markup language (XML). A certain level of expertise is typically required to manually edit website files using a text editor, but the basic operations of dedicated editing suites may be used without any knowledge of hypertext markup language (HTML) or any other code. The three main types of website editing software are text oriented, object oriented, or use a "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) interface. Each of these variations can have different uses, and there are typically both free and paid options available in each category. Some website editing software suites may also include tools to create elements such as images, animations, and various rich media content.
Text based editors are the simplest form of website editing software. If a web designer has an extensive knowledge of HTML and other code, text editing may provide a quick way to make small tweaks to a site. Text editors can also be used to create entire websites in the absence of more complicated software. Any text editor can be used to code HTML from scratch, but there are also purpose built text based editors. These programs may include features like color coding various code elements, error checking, or an integrated file transfer protocol (FTP) client.
A slightly more complicated form of website editing software may be known as object oriented. This type of software typically allows a web designer to visually organize his code in more advanced ways than simple color coding. Object oriented editors may also be integrated into larger WYSIWYG editors, allowing a web designer to work more intimately with individual objects.
Some of the most complex website editing software is often referred to as WYSIWYG, as all formatting and other settings are visible during the design process. Many WYSIWYG editors allow code to be changed manually, though it is typically possible to design an entire website without knowing HTML. Some website editing software suites may also include a variety of other programs, allowing images to be edited or rich media content to be created for insertion into a website. Many editors also include functionality to ensure website compatibility with World Wide Web Consortium (W3C®) standards.
In addition to the range of text based, object oriented, and WYSIWYG interface website development software, there are also a variety of freeware, shareware, and retail options. Some professional website development software can be quite costly, though there are typically also free or even open source options as well. Paid software may include useful proprietary tools unavailable in other suites, though free and open source options can be very full featured.
Some of the most skilled Website guys out there seem to work a lot by simply coding in the basic text editor that's bundled into any operating system. A good editor, however, is invaluable to those who want a great site but don't have the HTML and/or CSS chops to do it without a little help.
For those interested in open source stuff who aren't intimidated by buying some server space and running the back end of a site, great packages like WordPress and Joomla are available and are "friendly" enough to help people with a little computer savvy build great sites. Both have enough third-party support to offer some great features such as site templates, plugins and other items that can help most users build and maintain sites that look "professional" and can adapt to new uses.