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What Is an HTML Viewer?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hypertext markup language (HTML) viewer is a tool that allows website designers to view and edit their work in real time. The HTML viewer displays code on one side of the screen and the webpage-in-progress on the other.

Why Use an HTML Viewer?

Also known as an HTML previewer or HTML editor, these tools are intended to reduce or eliminate broken or inefficient code. HTML viewers can insert prewritten, frequently-used sections of code, or highlight certain lines of code.

Depending on the software, an HTML viewer may also feature pre-made templates, free graphics, and a built-in File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to quickly upload and publish the finished webpage. Many HTML viewers are free, while more advanced programs can be purchased with a monthly or one-time fee.

One of the most useful features of an HTML viewer is the ability to split the screen between the webpage code and a preview of how the code will look when it is uploaded to a server. This feature means that broken links, misplaced images, and other mistakes can be corrected before the website goes live. This feature is included in even the most basic HTML editors, and is used by novice and expert web designers alike.

Popular HTML Viewers

  • CoffeeCup offers a classic, easy-to-use HTML viewer that's ideal for both novice and expert web designers. There's a popular free version, or you can purchase the visual site builder.

  • Sublime Text 3 is a well-known HTML viewer that works with Mac, Windows, and Linux. Sublime Text 3 can be customized with downloadable extensions and has a vast library of plugins.

  • Komodo Edit is a free, open source HTML viewer with tools such as auto-completion and debugging. Komodo Edit works with a variety of platforms and can edit numerous programming languages.

  • Phase 5 is a popular Windows HTML viewer from Germany. Its features include customizable templates, search and replace, and a syntax debugger. You can easily switch between documents, and formats such as PHP and Javascript are also supported.

Useful Features of HTML Viewers

  • An HTML viewer helps the web designer to pinpoint mistakes, either by using the split-screen preview or by alerting the designer that the code is broken, outdated, or could be better written in another way.

  • To further reduce mistakes and speed up the process of creating a website, the HTML viewer might come with numerous lines of pre-written codeL, so that the designer does not have to repeatedly rewrite or copy and paste certain lines.

  • HTML viewers commonly include a highlighting feature that can be applied to any line, enabling the web designer to quickly dissect his or her code.

  • HTML viewers sometimes include pre-made website templates and free, no-royalty images. These extras make it simple for novice web designers to build a website without manipulating much HTML code. Even professionals may find these tools useful for building the basics or acting as placeholders for a client’s own images.

  • Once the website is complete, the designer can sometimes upload the finished project using the HTML viewer’s own FTP program. If there is no built-in program, the designer will need to use a third-party FTP to publish the website.

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Discussion Comments

By Markerrag — On Jul 06, 2014

@Logicfest -- a lot of people do wander into that HTML view and a good number of people learn the basics of working with HTML by tweaking things when necessary. That is a great, hands on way to learn basic HTML.

And, if there's something you don't know how to do, there are plenty of forums where HTML pros will post tips and tricks.

By Logicfest — On Jul 05, 2014

Good idea mentioning these things were once used by HTML pros and are now increasingly used by novices. Take an Internet based HTML email editor, for example. Those generally pull up a dual screen -- one shows how your email will look when sent while the other is the place you compose it. The composition side usually looks like something you would see while working with a word processor, but it can be changed over to an HTML view if you need to tweak the code a bit to get things to look just right.

The same go for online-based blogging systems and a whole host of software set up to help just about anyone build something online that looks professional.

Believe it or not, a lot of people venture into the HTML view and do make adjustments.

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