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what is the ROI on these editors?



7:33 pm on Sep 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am a java guy and code jsp regularly. i am getting tired of handcoding everything, it gets irritating. I am thinking of using an editor like dreamweaver but i don't know if it will be worth the effort to learn the tool and I don't want to waste time fighting the tool.

right now i use textpad, i'd love to hear from anyone who made the switch from handcoding to a tool like dreamweaver and what benefit they got from it.

RealEstate ABC

9:06 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Way back in 1996 I was learning HTML, and it was a pain as I wasn't a computer guy in my previous life.

Then, FrontPage97 came along. Sure, there was a learning curve (which was really rough at first), but I bought a big fat book and I got pages up. Then I got better at making the pages. I don't use a lot of the "extras" with FrontPage, and you do get to look at the HTML code if you want to (sometimes you have to if you want to tweak things a little extra).

I've never regretted learning it and use it still. Some may recommend other editors, but I've stuck with FrontPage and it has worked just fine for me.


10:31 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi trigg44.. Welcome to WebmasterWorld.

I don't think that you will find many that are happy they dropped hand-coding to move to an code editor. It's like eating out every day. Not as good as home cooked and you don't really know what goes into it.

A downside to your question is how will you factor in the change to your coding methods when you get a drop in the serps. Not that I am paranoid, but any change in methodology is the first place I would look when things go south.



8:01 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Welcome to WebmasterWorld trigg44.

I don't think that you will find many that are happy they dropped hand-coding to move to an code editor. It's like eating out every day. Not as good as home cooked and you don't really know what goes into it.

Not sure I agree with you here. If someone already knows how to code by hand then any of the recent WYSIWYG or advanced editors can only make the job quicker and easier. They automate a lot of repetitive tasks like tag completion and the ability to add in lengthly code snippets. A lot of them will also maintain all your links site-wide; change the name of one file and all the links to that file automatically change. Things like that save me a lot of time and aggravation.

All of these programs let you see the code generated and they also let you edit that code if you're not happy with it. You're not giving up any control. I'd say it's a positive ROI.


3:05 pm on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think that Dreamweaver goes beyond what people typically think of as a WYSIWYG editor and more into an integrated development environment (IDE). It certainly does have the WYSIWYG option with it's Design View mode, and that turns some people off to it because of the stigma attached to WYSIWYG.

But if you look beyond that to all of the other great features then you'll see the true power of the program. It's a great manual coding tool with the colorized text, code completion, hideable lines, and quick references to most languages. Add in the site management features, like link checking, CSS editors, file checkin/checkout for collaboration, and the built in ftp client.

Then there are the less known features, like the ability to create a code library. You create a library element, for example footer text, then insert the library element into multiple pages. In the future when you need to edit that portion of the page, you just edit the entry in your library and then hit Update, and it will edit it in all pages which use that library element.

Take that feature a step further and there are templates, where you design a page once and define which regions are editable. Then you can create your content quickly without worrying about layout. If you want to change the way your site looks, you edit the template page and then tell it to update every page based off the template.

You probably won't use those features, since you use JSP, but they're still pretty cool. There are a lot more features, but this is starting to sound too much like an ad. The best thing to do if you're curious is to go grab the 30 day trial and see whether it works well for your particular situation.


5:53 am on Oct 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I started out with Notepad and HotDog Pro back in late 1995 but switched to FrontPage 1.1 in 1996 when I was given a copy to review for BOARDWATCH. I've never looked back. Coding by hand is great if that's what you do for a living (and if you're billing by the hour), but for someone who makes a living from editorial content, the content (not the production process or the code) is what counts.

People who preach the superiority of coding by hand remind me of writers who claim that they get better results with manual typewriters. (Why typewriters? Why not pens or, better yet, quill pens? But that's grist for another thread and another forum.)

I wonder how many hand coders would dream of hand-coding a PostScript output file if they worked in print publishing? Or, to paraphrase something that IncrediBILL said in another thread or in a StickMail, I wonder how many programmers would choose to code in assembly language or machine language these days?

In his book, WEAVING THE WEB, Tim Berners-Lee explained that, when he conceived of the Web, he foresaw having HTML code generated behind the scenes by a WYSIWYG editor that worked like a word processor. The guys who invented FrontPage 10 years ago deserve our praise for being true to TB-L's original vision. :-)


7:07 am on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Since you are working with Java, you might consider MyEclipse. It has a ton of features, and plenty of graphical tools. It also has 'code completion' and 'code hinting'. I've used it before and was fairly impressed. This might be the tool for you.

As far as learning the tool goes, I have found that acclimation to a new tool has to do more with ones own knowledge of the language to be used, and its' application thereof.

For CSS development, an often overlooked app is TopSytle Pro from Bradbury. It's a great tool for dealing with CSS as well as (X)HTML. It can also display almost any type of source file.


9:09 am on Oct 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree 100% with grey - Dreamweaver is way more than a wysiwyg editor.

Dreamweaver was the best 300 I ever spent (on software)

But you will need to spend some serious time learing the software - it'll be a steep curve, and you will frustrated by the default settings but once you have it reined in [webmasterworld.com] you will probably not look back. DW8 looks mighy inviting too - much improved: CSS editor, xml support,'snippets' control, Work while files upload, debugging etc

I dont think there is a more complete development tool for web development + flash and fireworks


1:46 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I started out with WYSIWYG editors. I never even had an intention of learning HTML when I started making web sites. I now firmly believe that hand coding is much better. I don't ever use WYSIWYG anymore because the results are not as good.

FrontPage produces horrible code. My work involves fixing FrontPage code on a regular basis and it is shockingly bad. Often the code is Internet Explorer specific, which means that it won't display well on other browsers (conviently for Microsoft). Other times it is just awful, bloated code that is full of errors. I could give a list of sites made with FrontPage and VisualStudio (Visual InterDev) that do not display correctly in anything but Internet Explorer. If you are going to use WYSIWYG it is better to use Dreamweaver.

One advantage of hand-coded X/HTML is that it is faster to get excellent search engine rankings. From personal experience I'm convinced that proper HTML document structure (in combination with other legitimate techniques) is beneficial for rapid high rankings in Yahoo and MSN.

Hand coding improves the content-to-code ratio. You avoid code like this:
<font color="#666666"><b>Some text</b></font>
<font color="#666666"><b>Some text</font></b>
<font color="#666666"><b>Some text</b></font>

Someone mentioned that a WYSIWYG editor makes things easier by updating other files. You can also do that in hand coding with even more control by using server-side scripting like PHP. You only have to make the navigation code once, and then you insert it into the other pages. When you want to change the navigation globally on the site you only have to edit the one navigation file.

The analogy of "home cooked" vs. "eating out" is a good one. You never know what goes into that restaurant food until you have worked in a few restaurants and seen what goes on. You'll see people dropping food on the floor, spitting in the sauce and other things that you don't want to know exist.


8:00 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Welcome to WebmasterWorld mtlnx.

FrontPage produces horrible code.

That hasn't been an issue for many years now. Modern versions of FP spit out perfectly valid code. The DW/FP wars are really a thing of the past. Either WYSIWYG can output the same level code...it's more of a matter of whether the operator takes the time to check their output in a validator.


1:37 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm working on a site right now that was created by FrontPage over the last summer. It is a mess. There is no way to fix it without recoding the entire site. Even HTML Tidy can't fix it. It displays correctly but contains many errors and is unbelivable bloated with things like <font> everywhere and too many nested tables. There are also improperly nested tags from repeated WYSIWYG editing. I'm not sure what version of FrontPage it is, but I imagine it is fairly recent. The sites that I repair weren't made several years ago. They were all created in 2004 or 2005. That is the main source of my frustration with FrontPage.

Did FrontPage really stop producing the kind of deprecated bloated code that I gave an example of above?

Unless designers know HTML well they are not going to make correct HTML document structure with a WYSIWYG editor. (X)HTML was designed to indicate document structure, not the design/presentation of the document. HTML indicates what the title is, marks off different sections of the content with headers, marks content with paragraphs, lists, and stressed elements (e.g., <strong> and <em>). CSS is for indicating how the different parts of the document should be displayed.

Good hand-coding also has practical effects, such as rapid search engine rankings (when combined with other legitimate techniques), page speed, ease of modification, and other benefits.

Another drawback of WYSIWYG editors is the templates. If a designer makes a web site with Dreamweaver templates and then someone else goes in to change the site (e.g., me), if the second designer doen't have the latest version of the same WYSIWYG editor then it's going to break the templates and go back to the situation of having to edit the same part of the page 50 times. It's better to put pages together with basic server-side scripting like I mentioned above. That way other people can easily modify the site in the future.

For example you can make a simple template like this which is much easier to update than a Dreamweaver template and gives you more control. This is obviously simplified, but even in a complete form it is very basic:

<?php // insert head here from another file depending on page content?>
<?php // insert HTML navigation from another file?>
<?php // insert HTML page content from another file depending on what menu item was selected?>
<?php // insert HTML footer from another file?>

It's not that hard to write the HTML by hand. First you write the content. Then you mark it up with (X)HTML. Then you style it with CSS. The amount of HTML that goes into a site should actually be rather small, and hand-coding does not take that long.


8:52 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I don't think anyone is suggesting a solely WYSIWYG approach. It's always necessary to look at the code of the page while you write it, and there are tools which make creating a site easier than using a basic text editor. Dreamweaver is one tool, and it's very powerful regardless of whether you use design view mode or not. It doesn't relieve the designer of any responsibility. He still has to know HTML, CSS, and whatever other scripting language he is using. But he can produce faster.

You can create PHP scripts in Dreamweaver, so your php includes will still work. They are one option to use, but whether or not to use them is a different thread entirely.

I have to disagree that the templates are a drawback, though. If they are used improperly then they may break with future versions of a program, but new versions of the program have so far been backwards compatible with the old versions' template markup.

You can use templates to automatically create pages based upon XML data, and you can also export content housed by your templates to XML for other use. I haven't found need to use this particular feature yet, but I can see where it could come in useful.

But whether or not templates are useful to you or not, they aren't a drawback. Competent designers know to upload the site without template markup, and to provide a copy of the non-templated version to the client. Anyone who has to edit the site in the future won't require Dreamweaver to edit the site. If the new designer does use Dreamweaver and also has access to the templates, it will only be to his benefit. If the new designer is handed a CD labeled "website" with only poorly written template code on it, then it's the fault of the previous designer, not the program it was written in.


2:47 am on Nov 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's not that hard to write the HTML by hand. First you write the content. Then you mark it up with (X)HTML.

I have to disagree. I must think with a different side of my brain, but I am a much more visual person, and I can't wrap my brain around writing code that you can't see the end result unless it is all in your head; where it is all going to fit, what color, style etc. and then figuring out placement. Sure you can jump back and forth between the text editor and the browser, but to me that is a pain and takes way too long. I like being able to be visual first, and then go back and figure out if the code is good. Saves me lots of time, and it is making it much easier for me to actually learn the code and how to manipulate it. I use Dreamweaver MX and am now getting past a huge learning curve. I am now working on getting my sites validated, and it is helping me so much and I am also realizing that the settings that I have Dreamweaver on has been going against me this whole time and now I understand how the program works a bit better. I still have so much to learn though. (Hand-Coding to me is like high school....some people like math and some like science. I was a science person and preferred looking at bacteria through a microscope as opposed to figuring out algebra problems:-))


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