Until about four months ago, I used FrontPage 2003 as my HTML editor. Shut up. Seriously, shut up. It was a wonderful program, despite being old. But I wanted to keep up with the times, and SeaMonkey is now my tool of choice for doing HTML. Some thoughts and tips, below.
First of all, I’m not a web designer. I’m not using an HTML editor to design web sites. I’m using one because I’m a web writer. My copy is primarily headed toward the web, and using an HTML editor can make that life much easier.
I mostly publish through WordPress. Often, I compose right within the WordPress blogging software itself. However, there are times when I can’t. I might on a plane with no connectivity, for example. I might be live blogging an event where the connectivity can be iffy, despite always packing my own broadband card A good, offline HTML editor is useful.
Why not use something like Word? Bad code. I want to copy and paste from my HTML editor without having weird DIVs and fonts and other garbage being translated across.
That’s why I stuck with FrontPage for so long. It worked. It created nice, clean code that I could copy and paste into anything. It also packed a nice spell-checker, a thesaurus plus there was an autosave add-on floating out there. It was all a writer could want.
Still, it got to be a hassle trying to track down the various CDs I needed to reinstall the software on a new computer. Also, when I was pondering moving to an all-Mac world, I needed an alternative to FrontPage. Sean Carlos suggested Seamonkey. It’s been great.
SeaMonkey is an internet “suite” from Mozilla, the Firefox people. It provides a browser, email, news reading, chat and HTML authoring in one tool.
I don’t care about the stuff other than HTML authoring. In fact, I don’t get why when I already use Mozilla Firefox — and possibly might use Mozilla Thunderbird for email — that there’s this other “suite” sitting out there from Mozilla. Me, I think they should just focus the entire project on the HTML tool.
Indeed, that’s what sparked this post. One of the annoying things about SeaMonkey is that when you start it, it loads in “browser” mode. Want to compose a new HTML file? You then have to do a File > New Composer Page routine from the menu to make that happen.
I complained about this yesterday on Twitter, and Mike Perry suggested that there might be a command line option to solve this. And there was.
The options are here. To make it work for Windows 7 (and this will probably work back to Windows XP), I did this:
- Open the SeaMonkey shortcut (or make one)
- Right click to view properties
- Find the Target line (on the Shortcut tab in Windows 7)
- Add -editor after the exiting code on the Target line
- Save. You’re done
The target line for me before looked like this:
“C:Program Files (x86)SeaMonkeyseamonkey.exe”
And after it looked like this, with the new part in bold:
“C:Program Files (x86)SeaMonkeyseamonkey.exe” -editor
Do that, and now SeaMonkey will start with a new composer window and in composer mode.
Now I have two last wishes: auto-save and a thesaurus.
There’s probably a plugin out there that will give me a thesaurus. If I find it, I’ll update this later. For a writer, having a thesaurus built into your writing tool is a must.
As for auto-save, what the hell is wrong with developers? FrontPage lacked a built-in auto-save through all versions of the product. Now yet another authoring tool lacks this — nor are there third party tools that I can find which add auto-save to it.
Auto-save is an essential, as anyone who has ever lost work knows. Word processing programs have had auto-save since as long as I can remember — and I can remember doing WordStar commands. Someone, anyone, please add auto-save to SeaMonkey!