Nvu Revisited

By Deane Barker on November 3, 2005

We’ve talked here before about Nvu — the open-source WYSIWYG editor that wants to unseat FrontPage.

I’ve played with it before, but — despite my glowing reviews of the product — I had never actually tried to build a site with it. However, this week, the preschool at my chuch needed a few pages built, and it was perfect for a WYSIWYG editor, so I installed Nvu and gave it a shot.

Sadly, my experience was marred by some really bad functionality.

  1. Nvu makes every carriage return a BR by default — it doesn’t insert P tags unless you check an option that says “Always insert a P when already in a paragraph” (or something).

    This means that if you want paragraphs, you have to start a new page, and go to the source to manually enter a P tag so it “starts off” in one. Now every hit of the Enter key will give you another paragraph. Great.

    Problem is, if you break the pattern by inserting a table or a list, you have to go back to the source and insert another P tag under the table or list so Nvu “gets back in the paragraph groove,” so to speak.

    This functionality absolutely mystifies me. Why, exactly, are we messing around with the paragraph tag? I don’t get this at all.

  2. Nvu refused to believe that I wanted to use a PHP extension. When I would save the file, it would default it to “.html”.

    This wouldn’t be so bad except that if I put “.php” on the end of the filename, then the file would be saved as “.php.html” unless I dropped the File Type box down to “All Files.”

  3. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had to do this every single time I saved a file — it wouldn’t just “Save.” Every click of the save button was treated as a “Save As…” and popped the “Save File To…” dialog.

  4. Nvu has integrated FTP…sort of. You can open a site in FTP, and get a file, but Nvu will then save it locally (and you have to go through all the annoyance of #2 and #3). Then you have to Publish it from there.

  5. Like FrontPage, Nvu craps up its tables when they’re inserted. Immediately after inserting every table, you have to go strip out all the cellpadding, cellspacing, border, width, and other junk Nvu puts in the tag. There doesn’t seem to be a way to configure this.

These things don’t seem like much, but put them together and it really destroyed any kind of working groove I could have gotten into. It’s a good example of how little functionality in theory can cause big problems in practice.

It’s also tragic because, except for these flaws, Nvu is a great little editor. I like their tag editing system, and tables (after the initial insert) are easy to work with.

Bummer — but it is a 1.0 remember. And it’s free. Here’s to hoping 2.0 is better.

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  1. Nu, NVU needs time – it looks simple, but has the special features deep in its extras,… Maybe, Ull give it a second shot. Perhaps with 2.0.

  2. I also had some problems with nvus tables and such, its still eaiser than hand-codong for the most part(i used to hand code whole sites) but can be annoying has anyone tried macromedias? dreamweaver or whatever? been awhile is it any good?

  3. Thanks for posting your review. In my case we aren’t too worried about pure simantic markup as long as our users can easily “get it”. Still, the lack of WebDAV support is really what is blocking us from using it, regardless of any other issues.

  4. Nvu is dreadful – it adds all sorts of rubbish coding – it’s a disaster – avoid it like the plague.

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