How to Use WinSCP and Notepad++ to Edit Websites

There are many ways you can build and customize a website. If you are just starting out with programming, this tutorial will help you with your first website. In this article I will present you how to use WinSCP and Notepad ++ together to create and upload your website.

What is WinSCP?

WinSCP is a free, open source FTP (file transfer protocol) client for multiple versions of Microsoft Windows: XP, Visa, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10 used to manage files from web host in order to create websites. The software was created by Martin Prikryl in 2000, the last stable versions were released on November 4, 2015, being the 5.7.6 while the last beta versions: 5.8.1 beta was released on January 20, 2016, and it is written in C++, having just 5.5 MB.

WinSCP is available in 38 languages and uses basic functionality such as file manager, file synchronization, but also advanced functionality like compatibility with SSH ( Secure Shell) and SFTP.

You can download WinSCP from the developer’s website: https://winscp.net/eng/download.php where you can also see additional information such as features like remote editor, portable version, drag and drop functions, batch file scripting, command line, text editor included, PuTTY support, multiple user interfaces similar to either Windows Explorer or Norton Commander, store session information and the ability to upload and retain files.

What is Notepad++?

Notepad++ is an advanced text editor, but also a source code editor used to create or edit multiple types of files such as amx or amxx for game server plugins, HTML, CSS, JS and PHP for website files, C, Java, C++ for programming and so on created by Don Ho, the last stable version is 6.9 from 22 February 2016 and you can download it from https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v6.9.html

Notepad++ is written in C++, it has 6.6 MB and is available in more than 50 languages together with hundreds of plugins being free and supporting tabbed editing together with drag and drop function, multiple clipboards, automatically save, advanced find and replace used with regular expressions, square selection, text encoding, split screen, spell checker, data comparison, zooming, speech synthesis, FTP browser, syntax highlighting, macro and much more.

Notepad++ supports a lot of programming languages such as: Ada, Assembly, ASP, Autoit, Batch, C++, C, C#, Cmake, COBOL, Caml, CoffeeScript, CSS, Diff, D, Flash ActionScript, Fortran, Gui4CLI, HML, Haskell, INNO, Javascript, JSP, Java, KiXtart, Lua, LISP, Matlab, MS-DOS, INI file, Makefile, Normal Text File, NSIS, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, Pascal, PostScript, Properties, Python, PowerShell, Resource file, R, Ruby, Scheme, SQL, Shell, Smalltalk, TeX, TCL, VHDL, Visual Basic, Verilog, XML and YAML.

One of the best part of using Notepad++, besides its big number of functionalities, it is multilanguage and programming languages support is the high number of plugins, currently being over 140 compatible ones used either for W3C validation for HTML and CSS, text sorting, automatically saving, auto-completion, multi-view, bookmark, automatically correction and so on.

How to use WinSCP and Notepad++?

Once you downloaded and installed both of them from their developer’s website, you just need to start WinSCP from the desktop shortcut and to save the information regarding your website FTP connection from the web host where you bought a hosting package or created a hosting account.

Once you have the required information you can use them to log in to the FTP of your website be pressing to the left on the New Site button and then in right will appear the file protocol that usually is FTP, Hostname, port number, username, password, the ability to save or set defaults and the advanced options regarding global preferences or logging.

You enter your credentials and press the Login button to start the FTP connection where you can see all the files on your website, but also mail files at the mail folder, logs at the logs files. Basically, using an FTP client you have access to a remote computer named server where your website, email and logs files are stored and where you can edit them having full control.

To create a website, you usually need MySQL databases created through cPanel / phpMyAdmin and then you use the credentials for that database to enter them in a file in FTP. You need to upload your website’ files on the public_html folder, else the website will be unavailable and also you need either an index.html file or an index.php file.

Using FTP you can upload any content management system like WordPress where there is a wp-config-sample.PHP where you enter the required information regarding the database I mentioned earlier and in this case for WordPress you need to rename the file in wp-config.php after you copied it in the same folder.

WinSCP has a lot of useful features and you have a lot of icons and menus so you can refresh, synchronize, see your own documents or the ones from the FTP, and find files and much more.

If you want to edit a file, you can either use the included text editor or you can set Notepad++ as the default editor by going to preferences and at Editors tab you add Notepad++ and move it at primary text and source editor.

Here at Preferences you also have multiple options regarding the environment: interface, window, commander, explorer, languages; panels: remote, local; transfer: drag and drop, background, endurance, network, security, logging; integration: applications; commands, storage, and updates.

To edit a file, you press right click on the file you want and choose edit or you can press double left click and the file will open in Notepad++ let you modify it as you wish.

In Notepad++ you can either open a new file, save or duplicate one or you can even use advanced features such as macro, security and zoom options and so on. You will see CSS and HTML comments in green while PHP tags are red, define is blue and the variables are gray while database queries are light blue. Also, in other programming languages colors change, but they are intuitive and you can tell what each color represents.

With the help of this source code editor, you can even see the number of rows and use the file finder and replace function to find and correct possible errors.

With the help of additional plugins such as HTML tag, ImgTag, Location Navigate, MIME Tools, Converter, NppExport, NppFTP you can even boost your source code writing and use Plugin Manager you can even install other useful plugins such as ActiveX Plugin, AndroidLogger, Automation Scripts, AutoSave and much more.

Sum it up!

In the end, the combination between WinSCP and Notepad++ is a perfect one especially for those who have at least a little knowledge regarding programming languages used to create websites like: PHP, HTML, CSS and Javascript, but also for those which don’t have this type of knowledge, but want to test and experiment or even to work with uploading or downloading files from a private server where they keep personal data.

To publish your website online, you will need a good web hosting service. I highly recommend trying out eHost, which offers a free domain name and allows you to upload your site via FTP. To learn more about other hosting providers, I recommend checking out our hosting reviews.

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