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Tools Setup: Introduction


Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 30 seconds

There are two approaches to learning or any other kind of language:

  1. An “application centric” approach: learning a particular program such as DreamWeaver and creating code in its context, using the tools the application provides.
  2. An “application agnostic, code-centric” strategy: learning how to code HTML in the simplest environment possible, focusing on the code. Once code mastery has been achieved, you can then export your knowledge to any application you wish, using the features of more advanced programs to enhance your work and speed the development process.

As I have discussed, there are multiple problems with the first approach. For that reason, I prefer the simplest text editor possible: on OS X, TextEdit, and under Windows, Notepad. There are problems and limitations with both applications that prevent either program from being recommended for professional use: but for learning, they are very useful tools.

It is important to understand that both Windows and OS X preserve preferences on a per user basis, not system-wide. That is, if you move to another machine, or log in under a different name, you will have to repeat the steps that I will show for each application. In addition, all of these applications will prefer to save files in the Documents folder appropriate to the OS by default. As we learn, we will be making files and then throwing them away, or archiving them; for clarity and use of use, I suggest saving to the Desktop of the OS instead.

(A note to more experienced users: I acknowledge that there are many other fine text editors out there. I have deliberately chosen text editors that are available to everyone with a generic installation of Windows or OS X).

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