When we first published this article back in August 2013, we had no idea how popular it would prove to be. Many thousands of people have read it since then and looked at the solutions we suggested might be viable alternatives to ‘Dreamweaver’ – possibly the Internet’s best known and most used website development tool.
Formerly owned by Macromedia, but now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, millions of developers have used Dreamweaver to develop basic sites, while others have used it to create some of the most complex sites known to the Internet.
While Dreamweaver used to be accessible to everyone - the hobbyist right up to the web design professional - right now, it is not the cheapest of solutions. To get access to the single app, an annual plan (paid monthly) costs $19.99 per month, while a standard monthly plan costs $29.99. The cheapest it gets is an annual fee of US$239.88 per year.
While Dreamweaver has all the bells and whistles you could possibly need, the cost makes it prohibitively expensive for many. And as most designers only use a fraction of its capabilities, some might not be able to justify the expense.
But never fear… If Dreamweaver is beyond your reach there are still some great free WYSIWYG alternatives available for you to use.
To make sure you have the latest information, we’re going to revisit the five solutions we looked at back in 2013 to see what has happened to them over the last few years.
We are also going to add some more solutions that we think are also worthy of note.
Expression 4.0 has been pulled into Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 and the last update of the standalone solution (4.0.1460.0) was on December 20, 2012.
While a free download is still available, it seems this project has gone as far as it is likely to go. That said, it’s still free and still an excellent Dreamweaver alternative.
Expression 4.0 is very reminiscent of some of the earlier Dreamweaver versions so if you’ve been using Dreamweaver for a long time, it might prove pretty intuitive. It provides customizable toolbars and offers design and code views. Like Dreamweaver it allows you to look design and code at the same time when required.
With HTML 5 capability Expression caters for the latest design options and with a CSS Properties Palette, CSS management is relatively straightforward. Likewise, it makes light work of positioning graphics.
Currently there is no support for this free download and the tutorials that were available on the Microsoft site seem to have been removed. However, a good selection of tutorials are still available on the Internet.
A Mozilla project, the last stable update of KompoZer (0.7.10) was in 2007, suggesting like Expression 4.0, this project has run its course. However, also like Expression, KompoZer is still free as a download.
A fully WYSIWYG editor, KompoZer is Windows compatible and comparable to Dreamweaver except that it doesn’t allow server-side scripting. Like Dreamweaver, KompoZer allows you to create templates. And also like Dreamweaver, it’s possible to open any number of pages simultaneously.
KompoZer offers a CSS editor and an HTML validator and as a result, the sites it creates are compatible with modern browsers.
If you want a Dreamweaver alternative without all the bells and whistles, this might be an option.
The last update of BlueGriffon was released in February 2017 and so this project is still alive and kicking. Powered by Gecko, it is an Open Source solution billed as an “an intuitive, modern and robust application”.
The project website also describes BlueGriffon as a “next-gen Web and EPUB Editor based on the rendering engine of Firefox” with elements inherited from “famous ancestors” such as Netscape, Composer and Nvu. So, as you can see, it has a very solid pedigree.
Native standalone versions are available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux with HTML 4 and HTML 5 supported. It supports CSS 3 including 2D and 3D transformations, transitions, shadows, columns, and font features. However, some features of the latest update (BlueGriffon 2.3.1) are only available after purchasing a license, and that can cost 69.99 euros ($75) or 195 euros ($206) so you need to look carefully at what’s on offer. However, the free version is still likely to meet most people’s needs.
While the original version is still available, since we first looked at it Aloha Editor has morphed into Aloha Editor 2. The developers called it a day with Aloha Editor 2, but “Aloha Editor 1 is not affected by this decision and will continue to be supported and developed”.
The last stable Aloha Editor 1 release was 1.4.27 which happened 21 March 2017, so it remains pretty current.
Offering HTML5 editing it is compatible with current browsers and it features a "floating" toolbar that alters depending on which part of your site you are working on.
It is an extremely viable Dreamweaver alternative.
Initially released in 2005, the SeaMonkey Project was around well before our original article was written, but with version 2.46 released on December 22, 2016, it has grown from strength to strength over the years.
An Open Source solution, SeaMonkey originated as a Mozilla project – that’s right, the Firefox people. It was ultimately taken over as a “community continuation” and the suite you download now includes ‘Composer’ – the tool that you use for website design.
Although Composer will be not be developed any further, it receives maintenance updates and is still a good choice, especially for anyone learning HTML for the first time.
SeaMonkey addresses areas like HTML5 and is available in 26 languages on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Certainly not as sophisticated as Dreamweaver, but it delivers and represents a viable option.