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Expertise of current web professionals
Has it changed?
ratman7




msg:3365750
 8:26 pm on Jun 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hi, I am new to this forum but have browsed around for a couple weeks.
About me: I worked in the tech industry in the 90's but have been pursuing other things for the past few years. I have recently decided to start a web services consulting firm, and have dived back into the web, web technology, and web development.

But I have noticed something, and I'd like to get some feedback on it:
I have seen a lot of posts here from people who cheerily admit that they don't even know html, and proudly get by with WYSIWYG tools. My recollection of not so long ago is that you would be laughed out of the office by any legit designer or developer if you confessed to using something like FrontPage.

Is it my imagination or have things changed a little bit?

As for myself, I didn't know any CSS until recently, but I realized that it was a technology that I absolutely had to know to get involved in the field again. It blows me away that there are people who are calling themselves webmasters who are not familiar with the de facto presentation technology for web pages today. I know WYSIWYG tools have gotten better but people involved in designing and maintaining web pages should have an idea of what is going on in the code.

My question is really directed towards people who have been in the field for 5+ years. I'd be interested to hear your perspective.


 

phranque




msg:3365849
 11:27 pm on Jun 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

welcome to WebmasterWorld, ratman7!
i come from a programming background, so like you i would take a text editor and code over a wysiwyg you can't control and that produces bloated code.
of course i am essentially incapable of producing any "art", so i leave the presentation (or at least the hair and makeup part) mostly to others who are so inclined.

Lobo




msg:3365926
 1:14 am on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well thankfully the web is not constructed by techies...

Yip! the web scene has changed.. businesses and clients are no longer working from a complete lack of understanding and for the most part now know and expect their site to deliver..

At the end of the day it is about results and ROI from the market place.

Although I can't imagine any serious business working with Frontpage although I do know some sites that use it, mostly government / charity / office based workers in that field etc ..

How fast will it load, is not such an issue as it was back in the 90's with the uptake of broadband, although still a point..

My point is although things have changed the crux is the same, as long as the site delivers for the client who cares what any other ego thinks ..

plumsauce




msg:3366044
 5:57 am on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

and for the most part now know and expect their site to deliver..

but the execution is sadly lacking

eg.

"I am a webmaster, how do I buy a domain?"

"I am a developer, what html do I use to save the data in my forms to a database"

"I am a network admin, what's a CNAME?"

usually prefaced with the title "HELP ME!"

um, RTFM!

netiquette used to be:

1. define your problem
2. rtfm
3. do your own additonal research first
4. do some testing
5. include full details of 1 - 4 in the first post

It is now more common to go straight to "HELP ME!"
without even the most cursory use of a search engine.

Any help rendered is usually followed by "can you send me a working copy of a script that does this".

um, no, that's YOUR job.

justgowithit




msg:3366569
 5:43 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Forgive me for pointing out the ultimate irony in your post:

have been pursuing other things for the past few years
(a few years!?!? By the time books on the subject hit the stand they're out of date)

And....

didn't know any CSS until recently

But....

I have recently decided to start a web services consulting firm

I digress...

I started my web career using a WYSIWYG editor and now code everything by hand while still using DW as a fancy text editor with preview. You’ve got to start somewhere and there’s nothing wrong with a little hand-holding to get the ball rolling. I’d agree with plumsauce’s take on things that many people have taken the hand-holding a little too far, though.

ratman7




msg:3366862
 10:39 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Justgowithit:

Yes you do digress. There is no irony in my post. I didn't know CSS so I learned it. You have no idea what I do or don't know, either.

And for the record, I do think there is something wrong with hand holding. I never expect anyone to hold my hand. Sounds like you're one of those who do, which explains your attitude.

TypicalSurfer




msg:3366864
 10:47 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

A professional is one who can earn a profit from his skills and more specifically if "for hire" earn a profit for his client.

CSS skills may or may not have anything to do with how successful or "professional" a web professional is. It could be a part of the mix but not a very large one.

justgowithit




msg:3367430
 1:44 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm glad that you're willing to voice your opinion. That's the point of a forum. However, there's no reason to become hostile. I apologize if I've in some way offended you. That was not my intention.

For starters, the term webmaster has been beaten into obscurity. Secondly, I don't believe that one needs to be fluent with (X)HTML in order to build static pages. The advent of highly capable WYSIWYG editors is plenty sufficient for the task. WYSIWYG editors are also a fantastic tool to help one learn (X)HTML.

I believe that anyone who is serious about web development as a profession must have a highly diversified skill set that (X)HTML acts as the foundation for. I'd say that goes without saying.

I also know many web professionals that could care less about coding (X)HTML (java, C, or PHP for that matter) as their specialty has nothing to do with the actual development of applications but instead with the marketing (or some other aspect of running a successful online presence). You'll be running into a lot of people like this in your new field should you pursue it.

For the record - I've been developing web application for over 10 years on a multitude of technologies and I don't consider myself a "webmaster".

I wish you the best of luck in your new venture.

europeforvisitors




msg:3367614
 4:22 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

My question is really directed towards people who have been in the field for 5+ years. I'd be interested to hear your perspective.

It really depends on the type of Web site and the type of "Web professional." I'm a "content guy," and back in the mid-1990s, I sometimes spent as much time formatting pages as I did editing and writing them. Today, software does the drudge work for me.

On the technical or programming side, things are a lot more complicated than they were in the days of static Web pages and plain-vanilla HTML. This has created new opportunities for high-end developers and database experts, but I suspect that it's left at least some lower-level Web developers in the same position as stenographers or keyliners.

ratman7




msg:3367822
 7:33 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm glad that you're willing to voice your opinion. That's the point of a forum. However, there's no reason to become hostile. I apologize if I've in some way offended you. That was not my intention.

I in turn probably overreacted a little bit.

Thanks for your feedback on the topic; I appreciate it. I agree that for creating or maintaining simple static sites WYSIWYG is ok. I'm not against WYSIWYG tools; I was just surprised to read so many posts from people who obviously aren't making an effort to learn the technology.

What I'm taking from this thread is that it's better to be a specialist in either Design/Content/Presentation (Graphics, layout) or coding and scripting (php, ajax, etc...). My impression is that there is less opportunity today for the generalist who doesn't fit into one of these molds.

abbeyvet




msg:3367876
 8:24 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

there is less opportunity today for the generalist

There's massive opportunity for the generalist and, paradoxically, it increases as people become more specialised. Someone has to see the big picture and know enough to effectively knit together the work of the specialists who excel in a small field but know little of others.

I have recently decided to start a web services consulting firm

That's a rather vague and at the same time all-encompassing title. It would be absolutely impossible for one person, generalist, specialist or otherwise, to act as an effective consultant across the full and almost infinitely varied range of what could be described as 'web services'. However a good generalist would be in a position to know where to source the best advice or services in a range of disciplines.

The thing is that getting that sort of know how and building the required contacts isn't an overnight affair - it's done by dint of working in an industry persistently over a long period. I am not doubting your ability for a minute, but it's hard to see how "pursuing other things for the past few years" puts you in that position. In such a situation developing a high level of skill in a more narrow area might be a better route to pursue.

justgowithit




msg:3367883
 8:30 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like to think that the increasing sophistication and fluidity of web-technology is opening things up. Sure, one can get the basics of multiple languages, techniques, services, etc. but to be a true expert requires constant attention and practice to one (or a few) disciplines.

I wouldn't say that there's less opportunity for a generalist – the opportunities are just different than those for an expert in a specific field. I look at a "web generalist" as someone who can do what it takes to get a small business portal online within budget or create and promote an e-commerce site that makes a few bucks but I wouldn't expect the same person to sit down and work out a top-notch UI.

I think that there's a point in every web business when they turn from the generalist to the experts even if it's a mix of both. An example for me would be Adwords. I know the ins and outs of adwords, but I'd rather hire an expert who works with it every day to spend my money where it will matter most.

ratman7




msg:3367900
 8:49 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's massive opportunity for the generalist and, paradoxically, it increases as people become more specialised. Someone has to see the big picture and know enough to effectively knit together the work of the specialists who excel in a small field but know little of others.

That is my rationale as well, but some feel differently. Of course, everyone determines this from their own perspective.

ratman7




msg:3367925
 9:03 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like to think that the increasing sophistication and fluidity of web-technology is opening things up. Sure, one can get the basics of multiple languages, techniques, services, etc. but to be a true expert requires constant attention and practice to one (or a few) disciplines.

I agree. Being narrowly focused is great if your focus is in demand and the wages are good. The fact that web technology changes so fast is both a good thing and a bad thing in this respect.

Lobo




msg:3368333
 7:43 am on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

My impression is that there is less opportunity today for the generalist who doesn't fit into one of these molds.

In some respects, but then a good Project Manager needs to have a good general grasp of the full life cycle.. and I find that there is an increase in the use of PM's and indeed Program Managers for larger projects..

theistand




msg:3379893
 5:11 am on Jun 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

all I have to say is ... just like wa*-*art the web is full of a bunch of little plastic widgets and thinga-ma-bobs that the consumer has been convinced that they need.. as well as full of a bunch of small shad-tree entreprenuers to give them something that resembles what they think they need...

and I too started out this way!

What a world!

[;o)

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