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Looking for old-school style web composer software

veteran polycounter
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pior veteran polycounter
Hello all -

I'd like to find an old-school style web composing software. What I mean by that is something that allows to visually assemble page layouts by direct manipulation of elements (images and text) and able to run a fake local server to test out multiple related pages of a simple site. The page code needs to be editable at the same time.

The output doesn't need to be the cleanest, as the layout will be recreated using modern tools later ; but it has to output native html pages (this excludes tools like Construct2, or any print-oriented publishing software like Affinity).

Overall this is pretty much what good old Dreamweaver could do. This is also similar in principle to the visual composer view in Wordpress ; although I do need for output to be fully testable offline. A free web-based tool could work, as long as it can spit out a workable set of files editable locally.

I don't mind a paid app, as long as it is not subscribtion-based. And I don't mind the software being ancient, as the only technical requirements are html, css and js.

Does such a thing even exist, now that no-code solutions like Wordpress, Squarespace, and various landing page design tools are all the rage ?

Thanks ! 

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  • Daf57
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    Daf57 polycounter lvl 6
    There are still a few of the WYSWYG editors out there. You've likely already done the search but here's the link anyway.
    Here's a "25 Best" type of article: https://www.guru99.com/best-wysiwyg-html-editor.html
    Sounds like something like Dreamweaver or Coffeecup and Xampp would be what you are looking for.
    Hope I understood your intent and this helps a little. :)


  • pior
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    pior veteran polycounter
    Hello ! Thank you for the suggestions :)

    I should have probably mentioned that I did do some research already, indeed. It led me to the Composer feature of SeaMonkey, which is as oldschool as it gets. I haven't fully tested it yet though, so I thought I'd ask here for more recommendations in the meantime.

    CoffeeCup Site Designer might be a good fit, I'll have to look into it. I assume that its output is probably quite heavy (ie "modern") but that comes with the territory I suppose. Thanks :)
  • Eric Chadwick
    How about Photoshop's slicer?
  • pior
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    pior veteran polycounter
    Hey there Eric - Indeed, that is one of the few possible approaches. And interestingly enough, even though there are many more modern tools available for page layouts and wireframes now, it seems that some designers still rely on it probably because of how simple/bruteforce/straightforward it is. Definitely considering it as part of the toolset, as I think it might be the quickest way to create clean headers and footers, very easily.
  • pior
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    pior veteran polycounter
    Here's a follow-up. I've spent the last few days diving into this, with the practical intent of rebuilding a site previously handled in Wordpress. Even though I initially went into this with the need to find a handy way to prototype visual layouts to later rebuild by hand (in code), I've ended pushing this a bit further trying to find a good "start to finish" solution allowing me to build a whole (albeit simple) multi-page website in one place.

    Even though I know html and css, I currently have zero interest in getting my hands dirty beyond setting straightforward properties of page elements.

    - - - - -

    - CoffeeCup Site Designer seemed extremely promising, and the first impression was great. However I ran into some sort of memory leak by merely playing with one of their templates, which slowed down the app to a crawl. I'll give it another go as the templates do look fantastic, but it is likely going to be a pass.

    - Xara Web Designer seemed great at first glance too. The templates look good, and both version 11 (slightly older) and Premium seem to behave well. However the output from one of their stock template turned out extremely messy, with dumb visual effects applied to the pages and links, and exported pages taking more than 10 seconds to load when tested locally. I am sure that once online things must behave better (as I suspect the slow load was likely caused by an online resource failing to load), but still, not acceptable. Some interface quirks are very annoying too (merely assigning color to an object can be a pain). 

    - WYSIWYG Web Builder 16 turned out pretty good. The paradigm is clear (a side bar listing all the pages related to a site), and the tools are clearly laid out. The output is lightweight too. Yet ...

    - QuickNEasy Web Builder 8 is even better. It has all the functionality I need from the bigger Builder 16 version, with an even cleaner interface and more fluid UX overall. It's a very solid piece of kit. I still have a few tests to run (namely checking if the exported output is fully functional when uploaded as-is), but regardless it is likely going to be my pick. Well worth the 59USD asking price IMHO - unless i find something else of course. I would say that its only weakness is the in-editor page previewing, which can be a bit glitchy at times.

    - - - - -

    It's been a fun blast from the past, somehow :D All that said if you have any other suggestions feel free to let me know.
  • Eric Chadwick
    Thanks for the rundown pior!
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