Bluefish is a Great Tool for Writing Clean HTML

BluefishIf you write articles, create Web pages or write Kindle ebooks, chances are that you’ll need a fast, no-frills HTML editor. I’ve been doing all these jobs for a number of years and I think the Bluefish editor is the best, most productive product out there.

Unlike LibreOffice, MS Word and even Kompozer, Bluefish doesn’t add any extra HTML tags to your text. One of my pet peeves with regular word processors and HTML editors is that they want to make the decisions on what to tag and how to do it. Many times they insert tags that are totally unnecessary and useless. It makes the HTML very hard to read and debug. I like Bluefish’s minimalist approach to tagging, and most Web site editors do as well. Anything that helps me get the job done with the minimum number of tags is what I use. That’s were Bluefish shines.

Bluefish runs on most Linux distributions, OpenSolaris, Windows and Mac OS X. It’s installed using any standard Linux package manager and appears under the Development tab in Xubuntu. Windows users can download an installation file and go from there.

Bluefish Screenshot


Bluefish works just like any other text editor. Start up the program and then add content in the standard text entry area. Menus and buttons appear across the top.

I like to add my text first, then go back and put the tags in by hand. You can also highlight the desired text, then click on a tag button on one of the convenient menu bars. The standard bar has tags for bold and italics, a non-breaking space, links, comments and a few others. Additional menu bars group operations like tables, frames, CSS and fonts. When you’re finished with your file, click the Save button and give it either an .html or .htm extension.

Bluefish doesn’t have a WYSIWYG screen. To see your handiwork, you’ll have to start your browser and open the HTML file. While this might seem like a pain, it’s actually pretty useful since different browsers tend to render HTML in subtly different ways.

The solution is to run multiple browsers simultaneously and flip between them to quickly find any discrepancies. I like to run six virtual desktops under Xubuntu and put each browser in its own desktop. This makes it super simple to move back and forth while keeping track of everything.

I’ve found Bluefish especially useful for writing Kindle ebooks. Although I’ve tried a number of other editors, but none of them beats Bluefish at this job. There are no extra tags to mess anything up, and I can open up the four to six files required for each ebook compilation, all at once. The Kindlegen ebook building tool tends to barf when it gets one-off tags and funny constructs and Bluefish ensures that those errors are kept to a minimum..

So there you have it.

Bluefish is a mature, stable and very capable HTML editor that you can use for a number of different jobs. It provides just what you need — and nothing that you don’t. Give it a try. I think you’ll agree it’s a great catch.

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6 Responses to “Bluefish is a Great Tool for Writing Clean HTML”

  1. I don’t understand your stance on “extra tags”? Are you referring to using the WYSIWYG in other IDEs? I use Dreamweaver CS6 every day in “code view” to develop websites and never have any extra tags, only what I put in. Bluefish is pretty good. When I have to work in Linux, that’s sometimes my choice in editor. Komodo Edit is a free editor. I think it’s the best alternative to Dreamweaver, even over Bluefish.

    • Ryan,

      I’m referring to extra tags added in by programs like LibreOffice, Word, and others when you export HTML from those apps. It’s been a long running problem. So, I simply use Bluefish, instead of those packages for creating HTML.

      It’s been a long time since I used CS6. If you use the “rendered” view (can’t remember the exact name), then switch over to “code view” are any extra tags added in? If you code only in “code view”, I’d expect to not have anything extra.

      Thanks for you comment.

      Rob Reilly
      Dice Linux Community Guide

  2. I have used bluefish more times then I can count its a great tool ! I have used it as my main editor on 3 different projects. I also have the same setup as you Rob lol. I am using xubuntu now have been gnome user for quite some time but since the whole unity and gnome3 transition I have turned to xubuntu and haven’t been disappointed