Free, free or paid Which web development tools to choose?

A few days ago, my partner Pablinux explained to us the differences between Visual Studio Code and its derivatives  Code OSS and VS Codium. Since his article was focused on Linux, it was not justified to talk about the paid versions and only available for Windows, Visual Studio Professional. Actually, I don't even know if they share code or just the name.

The truth is that in the huge number of programming tools available for Linux, several developers offer free and paid versions of the same program, while others, although they provide their program for free, do not allow access to the source code and limit its distribution.

Free, free or paid

Although in Spanish the confusions generated by English do not exist, we are going to clarify the differences:

  • Free: The source code is available for review, modification, and distribution under free software and open source licenses. The final program can be downloaded and installed without limitations.
  • Free: The program can be downloaded and used, although the code is not available and there are restrictions on distribution.
  • Payment: It may or may not be free, but you have to pay for its use either once, monthly or every time a new version is released.

An example to know which one to choose

Many free or free versions of paid programs are limited versions of the latter.either. The limitations may come from the time of use or benefits. Since I am a respectful person of intellectual property laws, I am in no way going to say that the time limitation can be bypassed many times by deleting the configuration files (They are found by activating the option of View hidden files in the file explorer) to the limitations of use is about deciding whether or not you need the additional tools.


BlueGriffon it was the first (and so far only) program I paid for on Linux. For some reason I decided to buy the manual for 6 euros and at the time they decided to give the full version license to those of us who had done it. Apparently it was for a limited time because it no longer works for me and if I want to have it again I must pay the 87 euros plus VAT that they ask for.

It is an HTML and EPUB editor based on the Firefox rendering engine. It is the closest thing to Adobe Dreamweaver that you will find for Linux and it also has versions for Windows and Mac.

It is a WYSIWYG editor, the acronym in English for "What You See Is What You Get" (what you see is what you get). It isThese types of editors allow us to make changes and immediately see how they will appear on your website.. The alternative is to make a change, save it, preview it in a new window, and review that update… over and over again.

The free version shares the following features with the paid version:

  • Support for HTML 4 and 5 (Including audio, video and forms), XHTML 1.0 and 1.1, SVG and CSS3 (Grids, variables, transitions, transformations, columns and shadows.
  • Edition in code, visual and printing mode.
  • Style Property Browser.
  • DOM Navigation Pane.
  • Font manager from Google and FontSquirrel.
  • Style Sheet Inspection Panel.
  • Script editing panel.

The basic license (87 euros plus VAT) also includes:

  • User manual.
  • Full screen editing mode.
  • Visual and professional editor of style sheets. 
  • Table Layout Manager with 44 predefined layouts, all strictly CSS based.
  • Mobile layout viewer.
  • Tool manager for one-click insertion of various JavaScript/CSS files.
  • Template manager with free access to more than 2000.
  • Project manager.

I am leaving out of this article the more expensive version of the license with e-book publishing capabilities.

Is it worth paying for a license?

In my opinion, not in this case. If you have enough work as a website editor, you will already find it faster to write code than to use wizards, so tools like Visual Studio Code or Netbeans will be more useful. If you are just starting out, the free version will be more than enough for you.

On the other hand, BlueGriffon is based on the Firefox rendering engine, and most people use Chrome-based browsers, so inevitably you will have to open a browser before each change.


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