There are several reasons why people hardly use desktop web builders – there are only a few of them available, the good ones are too expensive, and the process of web building itself is not a walk in the park. That’s why it’s sad to hear the news that Apple has decided to discontinue the development of iWeb – the application which can help ordinary people build beautiful websites in a fun and easy way.
With iWeb out of the picture, finding a free and good web builder becomes even more difficult. But it is not dead, yet. There’s a new web editing application called BlueGriffon, a free multi-platform WYSIWYG HTML editor which is easy enough for beginners but also powerful enough for more advanced users.
Rise From The Fire
BlueGriffon is powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox. Just like Firefox, this web builder supports the use of extensions, so you can add more features according to your needs. It also supports the latest and greatest of web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3. The app is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
As a WYSIWYG HTML editor, BlueGriffon allows users to easily add, remove, drag, drop, and arrange elements of the webpage. But the easiest way to start is to use the “New wizard” under the “File” menu.
The wizard will guide users to set up their canvas, starting with choosing the document type, filling in data for the property, picking the colors, adding a background image, and deciding on the page layouts.
But the real web building process will start after the wizard. To help you during the construction process, BlueGriffon provides you with all the tools that you need on the toolbar.
For example, you can add an audio file to your page by clicking on the “Insert or edit audio file” icon, browse to locate the audio file, and click “OK“. Then the file will appear in the editing area.
The editing area itself consists of two different layers. The first one is the “WYSIWYG” area where you can arrange objects visually.
The second one is the “Source” area where you can manipulate the web by editing the HTML code. You can switch between these two by clicking one of the two tabs below the editing area.
Saving Your Work & Uploading It To The Web
There’s just too many elements involved in a web building process so it’s impossible to discuss all of them here. Please do your own exploration to familiarize yourself with the app.
The next step is publishing your creation. But before you can put the page online, you have to save the document that you are working on locally.
Choose the name that you want for the webpage and…
Save it in the location that you want.
To publish the webpage so that it’s accessible by anybody from all over the world, you need to have a web hosting account and a domain name. Your web host will tell you the location of your account and you’ll need to upload the document there using a file transfer protocol (FTP) client.
There are many good FTP clients available, but why would you use an external client if you can add one to BlueGriffon? You can find the “FireFTP” extension on the “Add-ons” page on the BlueGriffon site.
After downloading the extension, you can install it by going to “Tools – Add-ons” menu, and…
Click the “Install Add-on From File” sub menu under the “Extensions” section of the “Add-ons Manager“.
After restarting the application, you can find FireFTP available under the “Tools” menu.
After logging into your hosting account, you can transfer files from your local folder to a remote folder (and vice versa).
You can add other extensions to BlueGriffon using the same method. At present, there aren’t many extensions available, but I’m sure the choices will grow over time.
At version 1.0, the software is still far from challenging veteran commercial web builders like DreamWeaver. But as the only up to date free option available today, BlueGriffon has the potential to grow fast and catch up to the big boys.
Have you tried BlueGriffon? What do you think about the application? Do you think that we still need desktop web builders? Share your opinions using the comments below.