Hello, we have a website which I believe is in PHP, and it has a store on it. Adding products to the store etc is easy, but we want to change the text on the website, like add an introduction on the front page. When I try to open the index.php file in Firstpage all I get is a load of code that makes no sense to me. Is there an easy way of doing it, or a program that makes it easy to edit?

Thanks for any help.

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I've necer heard of Firstpage, but perhaps you meant FrontPage (ancient WYSISWYG editor... not even know it still excist)? Anyway usually there should be a CMS (Content Management System) behind it for easy editing, but if that's not the case then a code editor is your only option.

You obviously don't know what you're doing so take care. You could change something you may think is quite innocuous, but may have knock-on effects. Always keep backups of all previous versions. Consider asking a friend who understands php or maybe hire somebody. Else, buckle up and learn Html, php and possibly js, css, mysql.

I have to guess here. Somehow you have this website so why not tell how you got here. Did you hire someone and they are now gone?

We hired someone to write the website, can't afford to pay for every little change. Yes I am a complete newbie.

What website editors would you guys recommend? I found firstpage by googling 'frontpage alternative', but when I open a page with it, all I see is loads of code, and I don't see the page as it would appear in a browswer.

I do backup the website by downloading it all with an FTP program before attempting anything.

That's the usual story. What happens next is up to you. You might find a new web master, learn more about your web site and the languages your site uses but eventually you have to make a decision.

Maybe put off changes until they can't be ignored?

As it stands it's unclear what this Firstpage is. PHP is a language that you could learn as there are tutorials out there but that may not be the right move as it won't tell you how this web site works. It's like learning how how to rebuild an engine but no one covered how to put the engine back into the car.

What's a good program to use to edit it though?

"What's a good program to edit it though?"

That needs more detail. Here I've used notepad, notepad+, Visual Studio's editor, and countless other editors. Since when we deal with code, there is no perfect editor I tend to use the one I have available.

What detail? Once in awhile a new to coding person wants the editor to do a lot more than edit a file. They want it to have syntax checking and more. But for editing, it really doesn't take much.

What's a good program to use to edit it though?

Look... you should've asked the person who made the website for you, before he started the job, hoiw you can easily edit the website. But you didn't and now you're stuck with a static website that can only be edited by someone that knows how to do that through a code/text editor like your Firstpage editor.

commented: Better explanation than mine! +15

The best "on the cheap" solution is quite involved:

  1. Download Dreamweaver from here: http://www.oldversion.com/windows/macromedia-dreamweaver-mx
    (It's an oldie but goodie freebie).
  2. Download USBWebServer from here: http://www.usbwebserver.net/webserver/
    What you are going to do is create a complete test copy of your website to practice on. If your website is PHP, then you should be able to copy the folder that contains index.php. You will also need the MySQL database (which might contain all the text entries).
  3. Using these copies, create your "test environment" on your USBWebServer localhost.
  4. Point Dreamweaver to your environment. It will give you a wysiwyg editor, and should show you where you need to modify your text.

If you can't make that work, you will need help.

I'm not sure that it's the OP's fault that there was no provision for editing the website from the author. I'm not convinced that you need a fully-fledged IDE. The number of options and menus can be bewildering.

What you may need:

FTP client like Filezilla (free) for uploading/downloading files

Editor like Notepad++ (free), there are a number of others available

An editor like Notepad++ should suffice
A stack solution like XAMPP (free) can be useful for testing your site locally

A GUI like SQLyog (community version, free) is a lot easier to use than phpMyAdmin

There are other bits and bobs you may find useful, but those are the bare bones, I think.

I'm not sure that it's the OP's fault that there was no provision for editing the website from the author.

Well there's obviously not talked about it in their first meetings :) The OP probably thought that a CMS or any kind of system to add/edit content easy on other pages then the webshop was included and the author probably thought that the OP was reaching out to him to do any changes or additions to the content, so he can charge some exrea fees.

From my understanding the OP wants to edit/add content indeed like in a Dreamweaver Design View functionality and he doesn't wanna juggle with programming languages, but even working with Dreamweavers Design View needs some learning curve especially when there are dynamic pages and databases involved.

Either way the OP needs to get his hands dirty or he just let the author do the content changes/additions for an extra fee. If it's only so now and than some changes/additions, then why be bothered by investing time into learning all these stuff. Adding an introduction to the homepage is 5 minutes work for the author.


That's the website, as you can see other than the products, it is kinda barren. See the grey bar at the top with the phone number in it, we just want to add some text in there to the left for now.

Adding and removing products is easy because there is just an area you log into, I get the impression that the person you build it for us made it purposely confusing so we would have to rely on them for any changes. When I open the index page in a website editing program, I don't see the page as it's shown on the browser though.

The website does not look like a wordpress site, although it does use the ubiquitous bootstrap framework. With regards the author making the site deliberately difficult to edit, I think you need to consier a few points.

If this was a criterion (editable pages or at least editable text) when the contract was agreed, I would imagine that the author would have made some provision for this as part of a CMS (content management system). There can be a considerable overhead with this, so you may find that this was not agreed as it may have incurred additional cost or time to the scope of the project.

If the site was produced cheaply, you will, no doubt have a bare bones setup, and I doubt whether you have a robust CMS running it. However, the opposite may be the case, as some developers have a lot of experience with some CMSes and can whip up a decent-looking site in hours. So who knows?

I will bet that the author/developer will not want you bothering them with petty edits or changes either - this is more hassle that it's worth. Some may make money from this, but it just serves to distract you from your current projects.

With regard to the editor not showing what the browser shows - well there could be a lot of reasons for that. It could be that you do not have all the js, css, php, mysql at the correct locations when you are working locally. Some references may be "absolute", so they (and other links) may break. If you don't have a local webserver with PHP running, then you won't see any PHP-created HTML elements. If your DB is not replicated or you don't have remote access to it, then you can't get at the data, and elements may be missing, broken or the page may have totally different content. Is there a .htaccess file? Is this all ok, local-wise?

Developers often store sensitive files above the web root and these will not therefore be available to anybody browsing for them. PHP can access these files. Have you also downloaded these - have you checked all folders above the web root (e.g. where your main index.php or index.html live) directory?

Could be a million other things.


Perhaps you meant the "html" or markup doesn't look anything like the "html" or markup in the "view source" function in a browser. Nope, it probably won't, if you're using php. It may even be something as curt as this:

    require ../includes/page_creator.php;
    echo createPage('index');

The createPage function could then include all the menus, the footer and headers and dog-knows what else.

I really think he means with "When I open the index page in a website editing program, I don't see the page as it's shown on the browser though" that he expect to see the exact same as what he sees in the browser instead of all the code he sees now. You know like a WYSIWYG editor such as Dreamweaver (you can edit a page in what's called Design View) and even FrontPage was like this in the old days.. But I can be wrong :)

EDIT: Oh and his site is made with the eCommerce CMS, OpenCart.

EDIT: Oh and his site is made with the eCommerce CMS, OpenCart.

I don't use it, so not familiar with it. The whole site or just the cart functionality? If the whole site, then there is hope - all the OP needs is the login from the dev.

If you open the page in Chrome Developer tools, go to Elements>Properties, then open the "body.common-home" dropdown, you can see where he created his text areas.

ask the developer who created your site for admin name and password

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