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WYSIWYG and Text Code Editors Forum

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Text Editors VS Visual Editors
Is using a Text Editor an indication of HTML Brilliance?

 4:48 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

eeek I wonder what im about to start off.

I Started off designing pages in notepad but soon discovered Frontapge which made table layout Sooo much easier. However Frontpage is Pants and i soon discovered the joys of Dreamweaver. Im design in dreamweaver but constantly view the source to tweak the pages etc

Anyway I seem to get the feeling that some people look down their noses at apps like Dreamweaver. Do hard coders pride themselves on their ability to 'hand code' and think that us WYSIWYG type people are big babies who cant handle the raw web?? or perhaps im being paranoid? Is everyone aware of how much hassle apps like DW can save?

Answers on a postcard to....



 6:37 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

Hi knighty, welcome to the forums.

Hand coding gives you great control over your pages. Some people use hand coding, others use WYSIWYG's. I think the trick is to be able to hand code because in my experience you will almost always have to go back in and fix something by hand coding eventually, even if you are using a WYSIWYG.

I prefer hand coding, have used Homesite as well. Our Web group hand codes in notepad. Some WYSIWYG's add excess tags in the code, this can add to the size of your page or cause problems when trying to edit.

As long as you are comfortable with your editing tool and know it well enough to tweak your code as needed you should be fine.


 6:42 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Is everyone aware of how much hassle apps like DW can save?

Is everyone aware of how much K handcoding can save?


 6:47 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

Good advice WebRookie. If you can't code by hand, then your WYSIWYG code will never be up to snuff. Tables, in particular, are worth an afternoon of experimentation in hand coding. Just load up a basic HTML file with a table and view it in Netscape and Explorer, and at different screen resolutions, with borders set to a visible number so you can see how the cells are arranged.

Make changes to the code and see what each browser does. Use percentages and hard values. Change <TD> widths, table widths, colspans, rowspans, etc. Insert graphics, form elements and text. After a while, you will get the feel for how things are -- and that understanding is invaluable.

WYSIWYG editors can never replace this kind of understanding, and all it takes is a few hours of play. After a while the "mystery" of tables begins to vanish.


 7:55 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

I am no HTML artist, but I am a big fan of non WYSIWYG html editors.
Bluefish [bluefish.openoffice.nl] is a nice one for *nix .
I was also playing with HTML-kit [chami.com] yesterday. It's a windows app with similar thinking.
Both are noncommercial products.


 8:39 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think an indication of HTML brilliance is to be able to produce a clean, nice-looking, functional page with solid code, no matter what tool you are using.

Yes, there is definitely a 'look down the nose' attitude in a lot of places about WYSIWYG editors. For me, when I factor in time spent, end result, and any necessary custom tweaking, using a combo of a good WYSIWYG and text editor is the best solution.

Javascript (IMO) should be done by hand... HTML can go either way. (As long as you're not using FrontPage... Gawd, that's the ugliest HTML I've EVER seen!)


 10:47 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> FrontPage...Gawd, that's the ugliest HTML I've EVER seen!

Have you ever tried the HTML conversions in MS Word and PowerPoint? Just say NO!


 11:02 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

If you can spit out decent looking sites and GET PAID for it...thats what really counts!


 11:12 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

>If you can spit out decent looking sites and GET PAID for it...thats what really counts!

And when they come back and want to know Why doesn't my site come up in the search engines?? -you can say:

Oh! You wanted SEO, TOO?!?! That'll be extra... and, oh yeah, I'll have to rebuild your site.


 12:25 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yessiree rc...strategy my man, its all about strategy ;)


 12:44 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Have you ever tried the HTML conversions in MS Word and PowerPoint?

I tried an HTML conversion in PageMaker a few years ago... I didn't even know what bad code was at the time, but I could tell something wasn't right.

>Why doesn't my site come up in the search engines??

Gawd... in the first month after my employer's site went live, that's ALL I heard from co-workers. I can't count how many times I had to explain the "time to listing/adjusting for ranking" thing.

Like all the SEs are going to say, "OMG!! A brand-new site from some small Alaskan company!! Quick, put that at the top of everything RIGHT AWAY!! Make sure you don't miss a SINGLE possible keyword search!!"


 1:26 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)


For me, the web is just a transition from PageMaker. I signed up so early that Aldus had to call me up and change my customer number because it wasn't in the same format as their standard and wouldn't work in their database. We finally migrated away from it after PM4, but I bought the upgrade to PM6 anyway --just in case.


 1:33 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

LOL... all you had to say was "I signed up so early, Aldus still existed"

Web design is definitely an extension of print layout for me. Probably explains why I prefer WYSIWYG for basic layout. (I was just looking into GoLive's support for CSS also... seems very strong, and handled in such a way that converting our existing site wouldn't be so hard. *whew*)

What I found so attractive about the web was the potential for dynamic content. Which is why I'm SO darned frustrated with the patchy support for DHTML and other nifty-cool visual techniques.


 7:15 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

some of it may be that the old HTML hands around the place never had WYSIWIG tools at the start, so they HAD to learn the theory.

Same with us. We strated with nottab, graduated to HotDog when it was the best WYSIWIG editor in a small field, and reverted back to text editing via Note Tab Pro.

Tried Dremweaver too, it is the best of the WYSIWIG lot, but again came back ti the simple text editor with enhancements like NTP.

You may find i think that people like us who started maybe 10 years ago just find it too hard to change!..its a silver hair thing I think,,, not that we look down our noses.


 10:13 pm on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

The most important thing with pages design is not what you use but how you use it.

Give an experienced carpenter a chisel and hammer and he can knock out a pretty wicked looking chair. Give an inexperienced carpenter all the latest gadjets gizmos and power tools and he'll produce a bag of crap.

Yes its important to understand what the app is doing to the code which you can sort out yourself later but WYSIWYG can get you there so much faster! Personally I churn it out in DW then weed through the code by hand.

DW (no i dont work for them) has some really cool features like building tables from imported data, creating stylesheets with ease, performing complex find and replaces, and much much more.

OK im getting off my soapbox now - just thought id put in my 2 cents worth.


 12:20 am on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

(for the new users, who haven't heard me say this a million times) I use GoLive. It has style sheet creation support, and is very easy to learn... and generates good code. I've heard good things about Dreamweaver, and I really don't think it matters which you use.

They both generate comprehensible code, and allow you to edit the code directly. Whichever you're more comfortable with... go with it. And hey, if you're a serious code beek who's most comfortable with NotePad/BBEdit and a browser for previews... more power to you (weirdos!).


 4:00 am on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

I like to build the homepage and one subpage by handcoding, and then use GoLive produce all other subpages by saving the orginal subpage as a new html document.

This way I can create complex designs with clean code then utilize a WYSIWYG program to boast my productivity.

Also I will do most of my edits in GoLive.

Hand coding can reduce file sizes and also you can, if you are a wierdo, construct the page in a way that bring your text to the top of the document even though you have a menu bars etc before the text.

And my God! Javascript should NEVER be added using a WYSIWYG application. The Javascript calories and fat these WYSIWYG applications add to your html can cause you a heart attack ack ack ack!



 7:01 am on Mar 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

Four years ago I went through a head hunter for a contract. Before they would allow the client to even talk to me, they gave me standardized tests for HTML and Photoshop skills.

Being able to write good HTML code matters a lot. After you can do that, I'd say minapple has the right idea.


 9:42 am on Mar 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

A client gave me a copy of DreamWeaver a year ago. I snubbed it until I started messing around with it last summer while doing some complicated pages for a gamer site. After getting over the enourmous learning curve, I was pretty impressed with the quality of code it pumped out. I did retweak everything of course, but I found it acceptable quality.


 1:48 pm on Mar 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

I found this article [dantobias.com] about the quirks of various WYSIWYG editors. The author likes DreamWeaver best, although he feels they are sliding downhill a bit, as a side effect of trying to make the program do absolutely everything.


 7:43 am on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

One of the drawbacks to many WYSIWYG editors has been excessively nested tables. But the newest crop looks to have CSS support that might blow right past that problem -- I've heard that some offer the choice before you start to create any pages -- layout tables or CSS.

This strikes me a something that could work out well and create clean HTML. Is anyone using a visual editor to write CSS coded pages?


 7:53 am on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> FrontPage...Gawd, that's the ugliest HTML I've EVER seen!

Which version of Frontpage???


 8:49 am on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

I use Dreamweaver to implement CSS and find it makes using Style Sheets soooo easy - a few clicks and an entire external stylesheet can be created. The great thing about it is that all the various attributes are listed so its just a matter of selecting the ones you use. Wether its line spacing, setting a repeat image on the X or Y axis or any other CSS quirk - its all there baby!

The only downer is that CSS doesnt work too well with Crapscape I mean Netscape ;)


 2:15 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Is anyone using a visual editor to write CSS coded pages?

<raising hand> Me. I use HoTMetaL Pro, which offers a choice between WYSIWYG, HTML and TAGS view, the last one being a semi wysiwyg view with named arrows indicating the type and location of the tags. Very practical - insert cursor next to tag, and press F6 to view and edit attributes. It has a built in CSS editor and writes very clean code.

Having said that, you should know that this is the orthodox fundamentalist of HTML. If you try to open a page written by another program such as Front Page, HoTMetAL will scream bloody murder and force you to clean up everything before it will open the document. That can take anywhere up to an hour and will drive you up the walls, but is really good with pages that it has created from scratch since you can see the main faetures of the coding without actually having to look at the HTML.


 9:33 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

Knighty Knight,

>I use Dreamweaver to implement CSS and find it makes using Style Sheets soooo easy - a few clicks and an entire external stylesheet can be created

I wish I could agree with that. I have a h*ll of a time using Dreamweaver in a couple of particular instances.

If you start the site with hand code and then go to Dreamweaver to tweak, Dreamweaver will spit bugs out all over the place. I had a site I did all by hand and then tried to do tweaks/ CSS with Dreamweaver and fought it the entire time. Usually, the code said one thing and the visual did something else. It made me crazy.

If I made the pages from scratch in Dreamweaver, not as much of a problem.

When I tried to make CSS for any of my pages, the styles never worked, or would work sporatically.

I will note that when I learned to use Dreamweaver, I learned on a PC and didn't have any CSS problems at all.

For the most part, though, I am happy with Dreamweaver and the tidyness of the code.



 9:45 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> FrontPage...Gawd, that's the ugliest HTML I've EVER seen!

>Which version of Frontpage???

Don't remember. It was a year or so ago, and a woman asked me to add some stuff to and 'clean up' her site... it was done in FrontPage, and 'cleaning up' basically entailed rebuilding all the pages from scratch.

However, as tedster mentioned, the HTML that Power Point spits out is 1,000 times worse than FrontPage.

> Is anyone using a visual editor to write CSS

I'm going to start checking out GoLive's CSS capabilities... the manual makes it sound quite easy, but knowing nothing about CSS, it will take some research to see how 'compliant' the results are.


 9:58 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

I started out using FrontPage and beleive it or not thats how I learned to write html by hand....fixing the code.

Top Style is a good dedicated CSS authoring tool. You set the compliance level you want to stick to.... CSS level 1, CSS level 2, Netscape, IE or whatever.


 10:25 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

well, at the risk of losing my moderator status here at WMW and having rc hold me down while NFFC beats the stuffin out of me I'll admit to using FrontPage2000 ;). I find it just sooo easy to hammer out sites for my clients that don't want any seo - ever. I always have to go in by hand and adjust the tables etc. I've found that FP coupled with a good search and replace tool (not the included one) is a pretty good combo.

When I have a true SEO site to build I fall back to FirstPage - it just saves having to type all the special characters.


 10:31 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

LOL... can I help NFFC beat your stuffing?


 10:38 pm on Mar 13, 2001 (gmt 0)

I design sites on both macs and PCs and i use DW/FW combo on both and i dont have any probs creating CSS, I am heavily testing all the sites i do cross browser and cross platform. With DW you can work on design and code side by side so if for any reason qwirky stuff starts to happen i just glance at the right hand monitor (dual screen) and tweak the code.

I find DW is really good for doing CSS as I didnt know diddly squat about CSS until DW. Now i cant imagine not using it.

I havent hand coded an entire site since university so i cant comment on what its like to then transfer over to DW but i find even when i create stuff outside of dreamweaver I can carry on the work with DW and it doesnt change the code.

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