i'm looking for a visual website builder that either runs on a local machine or is self-hostable, that I can provide to several people who have expressed a desire to have a website, so that I don't just install wordpress for them.

Something that produces plain HTML would be ideal.

I'm looking for, essentially, a static site generator with a UI instead of a markdown and templating based experience.

Publii really looks like a great option. I'm going to try to build a site with it, and then give it to some friends to try the same.

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@ajroach42 Where are you thinking of this being hosted? Suppose someone has a tool to build a single, static HTML page for themselves, it has to be hosted somewhere.

Are you imagining a service that provides hosting, and a tool to build the page with visual editing tools?

@ColinTheMathmo The webpages themselves will be hosted separately from the tool that is used to build them.

They might be on neocities or github pages or nearlyfreespeach or whatever other cheap or free webhost I point folks to.

If the tool for building the pages needs to be run in a browser, I'll host it on one of my servers. I would prefer a desktop application to a server based application, but I'll take whatever works for my friends.

I'm not sure why you're asking about hosting, though?

@ajroach42 I'm trying to find the scope of the question, because if I pass this to colleagues, they will ask similar things, and it would be nice to have the answers without coming back to you.

So it's literally just a tool, somewhere (local or otherwise) that lets non-web-savvy people build an HTML file for hosting somewhere as yet unspecified.


@ColinTheMathmo Yep, that's what I'm after.

Dreamweaver for the modern era.

@ajroach42 Continuing to drill down ... if someone only wanted a single page then they could simply use Word and save as HTML, right? So for a single page, apart from the bloat, etc., something like Word is what you're looking for.

There are many problems with that, but it's on the right track in terms of ease-of-use and style of interface?

@ajroach42 So I found these: and

In what ways do they not meet your criteria? I know they don't, but they are services that let you design websites, and are clearly aimed at non-tech people.

@ajroach42 There is also this:

That seems targeted at answering your question.

None of these are what I would build for a non-tech person, but they are different offerings in a related space, so I'm wondering where the mismatch lies.

I'll stop now, and I'll let you know if I get any suggestions that differ significantly from this. I'm interested in your further thoughts.

@ColinTheMathmo both are hosted and run by external companies. I want something that runs locally or is self hosted.

I don't know weebly very well, but I assume that it, like wix, does not allow you to export your creation to upload elsewhere.

@ajroach42 My immediate thought is that companies need to make money, so allowing you to design a site, export it, go away, and never come back is not going to be something they encourage.

That might be why you're finding it hard to find something.

@ColinTheMathmo hence my search for an application I can run locally, or something self hosted and therefore likely open source.

@ajroach42 What about running something like tiddly wiki and exporting that ... is that possible? Would that achieve your aim? Feels close ...

@ColinTheMathmo Something of that nature could work, but it's still a shade more technical than I'm hoping for.

Going to explore something called Publii

@ajroach42 How much layout are you looking to permit? A few blocks of text and an image or two? Or something more comprehensive?

@ColinTheMathmo ideally more, but publii always to meet the minimum usability standard so far

Wix is worse than most because it generates proprietary JavaScript in place of lots of its HTML to stop you exporting it manually!

@ajroach42 And looking again at your original question, I'm assuming it would be multiple pages, and not just a single page.

As you say (while I'm typing this) Dreamweaver, but for the modern age.

Hmm. I'll ask a few people.

@ajroach42 Bluegriffin or the "discontinued" KompoZer are your best bets. Unfortunately, Bluegriffin typically ends up putting <div> elements EVERYWHERE and it's kind of annoying. I use either one when I'm too lazy to figure out how to do complex <table>'s and then just do the rest by hand. My sites are and and they both work in new, old, and text-based web browsers that support SSL.

@ajroach42 dang, this BlueGriffon editor looks neat but doesn't do responsive design unless you buy a license

I don't have anything to suggest but I'll just remind that whatever you give folks is gonna need that; whether it's built-in or they just use Bootstrap

@68km @ajroach42 What do you mean by responsive design? It is WYSIWYG and it will do plain HTML and CSS like asked for. If this is just for regular people, most of them are not going to know what "Bootstrap" means.

@TheOuterLinux @68km responsive design is mostly shorthand for doesn't look like ass on a cellphone.

@TheOuterLinux I just mean that in 2020, if you have a website for the general public then it absolutely needs to be readable on both a desktop and a phone. @ajroach42

@68km @ajroach42 I have separate pages for mobile devices. You simply put in the <head> a little bit of JS to look for screen size and redirect based on that and then have the mobile page use its own CSS. Even the menu system I have for mobile uses CSS to power it instead of JS. There are lots of "index.html" versus "index_mobile.html" sort of things going on my sites.

@TheOuterLinux @68km Actual responsive design is a little easier. You tell the phone what the expected viewport of the page is, and then set things to be different sizes based on screen width. No JS required.

@68km @ajroach42 However, many people make fun of my sites because it looks like a GeoCities sort of thing.

@ajroach42 @68km I also got tired of people complaining about having to use scroll bars on desktop screens under 1280 width, so the PsychOS site loads the mobile version for that and under instead. I'm lazy and use table for styling. People say to use <div> instead but then I have to explain that if it doesn't look right in w3m, I'm not doing it.

@TheOuterLinux for the record I was gonna say in my previous toot "unless you are a retro enthusiast or otherwise know what you're doing" :p I do like your website


@68km part of the reason I'm searching, actually.

If I continue in the mood I'm in, I might just write something myself.

@ajroach42 What specific capabilities do you want others to have? E.g., edit page, create/delete pages, site management.

How much handholding / maintenance are you willing to do?

How many. users, roughly? 1, 10, 100, 1,000, 1,000,00, ... ?

Is there any need for security? Private pages? ... between individuals? Protections against vandalism (or user error), harassment, etc?


Mediawiki has a lot to say for itself IMO.

@dredmorbius All excellent questions, but I think they stem from a misunderstanding of my goal, I might not have been clear enough in the original post.

I'd prefer a desktop application akin to dreamweaver. If I have to use a web app I would like it to export HTML files which will then be hosted elsewhere.

If I give up on this route and decide to go the other, mediawiki is among the contenders.

@ajroach42 I'm thinking toward a git-based, or git-like, submission tool. My questions should be applicable to desktop tools, if those exist (see below).

If you're dealing with muggles, possibly non-ideal 😉​

Clarifying goals / constraints / user community might help generate more relevant responses.

And whilst I realise it's a hosted rather than desktop solution, the features and capabilities Mediawiki has, and how those do or do not suit your goals, are a possibly useful reference in discussing this.

Otherwise: this sort of tool largely evolved in the Web-app era. You're unnlikely to find desktop tools specifically addressing this niche. You could all but certainly ccobble it out of Linux / *nix userland tools though.

@dredmorbius mediawiki gets me a single website, which requires a database and scripting language, which can be used by multiple people.

I'm looking for a tool to build disparate websites, in the style of dreamweaver.

My best option right now is something called publii, which looks like a wordpress style CMS, but which generates flat HTML which can be uploaded elsewhere.

@ajroach42 I'd lean toward SSGs and templating systems such as Pelican, Hugo, Django, etc. Or even just Pandoc and whatevs.

Even for nontechnical users, if you can get text copy (assuming that text is the principle content, not images / dynamic crud), you should be able to crank out HTML files yourself as the site(s) admin, and push those live.

Otherwise, are you simply asking for an HTML editor?

@dredmorbius I was mostly looking for an html editor, yeah. Dreamweaver with some modern touches.

@dredmorbius I'm not looking for a desktop cms exactly, no, but publii is what I've settled on trying for now.

@ajroach42 well, it's not exactly WYSIWYG, but if the people editing the website can get to the point of being comfortable editing Markdown, it does a pretty good job.

Wasn't there a discontinued one that used HTML5/JS to generate code and ran in a browser?

@ajroach42 Not self-hostable, but WebFlow's the best I've seen:

Hopefully someone will spin something off of Haphaestus... There's a reason I aim for strong modularity!

On the other hand there's plenty of IDEs which show a live webpage alongside the HTML you're editting.

@alcinnz It was looking at webflow that sent me down this path.

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