Lots of interactive software can create web pages, but most of those packages are either souped up text editors or glorified WYSIWYG applications. If you want to hand-code HTML, embed code, and preview your work, you typically have to bounce back and forth between specialized packages — such as BBEdit or TextMate and Dreamweaver on Mac OS X, and HTML-Kit on Windows.
But Penguinistas are quite fortunate, because Quanta, the best Web page editor available on any platform, runs on Linux. Quanta (http://quanta.kdewebdev.org) is part of KDE. If you use KDE, chances are that Quanta is already installed. Otherwise, find it using your distro’s packaging system and install it. If you use Ubuntu (or any Debian- based system), just type sudo apt-get install quanta, to install Quanta in a matter of moments.
To run the program, look for it on your KDE or GNOME menu, or enter /usr/bin/quanta at the command-line. The first time you run Quanta, it checks for programs that add features, including Kompare (for diff), KXSLDbg (for XSLT debugging), KImageMapEditor, and Cervisia (for CVS management). You don’t need those to use Quanta itself, but the additional, integrated features are quite handy.
So, why is Quanta so gosh-darned good? It rolls the best features of other editors into one coherent package, making it a joy to use. Here’s just some of what Quanta has to offer:
*Code completion. Type <p> and Quanta instantly enters </p> for you, and places the cursor right between the two elements, ready for your text. This works for every HTML element, and saves scads of time. Even better, type <t and Quanta pops up a list of elements that can complete it, including table, tbody, td, textarea, and so on. Choose one with your arrow keys or keep typing to complete it yourself. Better yet, type <table>, and Quanta fills in the rest for you — <tr><td></td></tr></table>. Sweet!
*Context-sensitive help. Right-click on any element and choose Context Help to read a complete page of documentation about that element and all of its attributes and values.
*Text completion. Creating a Web page isn’t all about the code — you also have to enter content. Quanta learns the words you’ve typed and re-enters known words when you press the Tab key. For writers, this is wonderful.
*Abbreviations. Sick of typing out “Acme Consulting Company?” Create an abbreviation and reduce your effort to keying acmecc. Quanta performs the expansion.
*Powerful toolbars. If you prefer to click rather than type, Quanta offers a range of toolbars filled with buttons to enter code, generate basic templated pages, and create tables and forms. Toolbars are highly customizable, so you can create buttons to insert code or even longer snippets that you use frequently.
*Remote editing. Since Quanta is a KDE app, it supports KDE’s concept of network transparency, meaning you can work with a remote file as if it was stored on your hard drive. You have a variety of connection protocols to choose from, including FTP, SFTP, FISH, and more.
*WYSIWYG editing. Visual Page Layout gives you the ability to do simple WYSIWYG editing in Quanta. It’s not as robust as Dreamweaver, but it gets the job done. Still, Quanta is mainly a text editor for HTML, so you should think of VPL as icing, not the cake itself.
This is just a sample of Quanta’s features. If you want to learn more about Quanta and everything it’s capable of, check out the Quanta Web site and the plentiful documentation at http://quanta.kdewebdev.org/docs.php. Quanta gets things done!
teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, consults for WebSanity, and writes for SecurityFocus and Linux Magazine
. His latest book, Linux Phrasebook
is in stores now. You can reach him at email@example.com