Hand coding

At Whitespace Wisdump, Paul Scrivens talks a bit about why hand coding HTML and CSS is better than using WYSIWYG applications.

Right on, Scrivs. I’ve never seen the need for WYSIWYG tools, and I wouldn’t let someone who uses the design view of an application like Dreamweaver near my code unless they can prove that they actually do know HTML. In fact, I’m not so sure I would trust them anyway.

Are people who use WYSIWYG tools really serious about web development? Do they view each site they build as the result of craftsmanship? I don’t know. But I doubt it.

A clarification: What I mean by using WYSIWYG tools is using the design view of Dreamweaver (or some other such tool) for the entire process of building a website. I think it’s fine to use such tools (if they do a good job, that is) to enter content or create data tables. Read the comments to get the whole story.

And no, I don’t manage the content of large sites by hand. There’s usually a CMS and a client to take care of that.

Posted on September 20, 2005 in Quicklinks, Web General


  1. I only use WYSIWYG tools for doing quick mock-ups for clients. I would never use them for actual coding, because I’ve never come across a machine that can produce code better than I can. That’s not me blowing my own trumpet - it’s just that hand coding is, well, easy!

  2. Well I use Dreamweaver, yet I can’t remember the last time I actually used Design mode to build a site. I do use the design mode to quickly view the CSS layout (though this can be troublesome a lot of the time).

    Yeah WYSIWYG is a nice concept and is certainly valid in some instances, Macromedia Contribute, when tie with strict templating and rules.

    On Dreamweaver I would say there is one nice feature in version 8, you can in Design view switch between your CSS media types. Its a pretty cool feature and a great way to see if that layout will print decent, notwithstanding the comments above.

    So I guess I agree with you and Scrivs

  3. I haven’t used WYSIWYG tools since I don’t know when. Haven’t even touched Dreamweaver..

    I’ve always felt that you’re not having total control of your development when using such tools. Hand coding is the way to go until someone convinces me about anything else.

  4. I do happen to use Dreamweaver, and i’ve noticed that ever since I moved to CSS based layouts, I’ve been living in the code view more and more. I do go back to the design view to get an idea of how things look, rather than uploading the change and reloading it in a browser.

    Back during the table layout days, I would rarely look at the code—only to tweak things here and there. With the way I nested tables 20 levels deep, it was just pure insanity.

    I wouldn’t totally write off WYSIWYG users completely if they use a combo of that and looking at code. WYSIWYG-only users are the ones you have to worry about…

  5. Ever since I taught myself HTML “the hard way” in -95 I’ve never been convinced by WYSIWYG for anything serious. Though I’ve heard a few good things about DreamWeaver lately, I still wouldn’t use it for WYSIWYG development, and if not for that then it’s not worth the money. My setup as of today suits me fine.

  6. You have got to start somewhere! (For me this was GoLive) But now its hard core BBedit

  7. September 20, 2005 by Mark Stevens

    Dreamweaver and friends have their uses, but when anyone asks me the best way to go about learning HTML/CSS, I always point them in the direction of the nearest text editor.

    Too many people make the mistake of confusing “knowing how to use Dreamweaver” with “knowing HTML/CSS”. They’re two completely different things, yet a worryingly large number of clients and college lecturers will assume that no inclination to use a WYSIWYG editor is synonymous with not knowing HTML.

    Show me ten people who claim to have mastered Dreamweaver and I’ll show you nine people who, when given nothing but a text editor and told to code a simple HTML/CSS layout, won’t have the slightest idea what to do.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with those who use WYSIWYG editors, just as long as they know their HTML/CSS back-to-front and inside out. Learn the craft then choose whatever tools you like to get the job done, but don’t learn how to use any given tool without an understanding of the craft.

  8. I’ve hardcoded my websites since I started learning HTML/CSS. Never relied on Dreamweaver or such things, notepad did a great job to me.

  9. In general I much prefer a good text editor, but one thing the is difficult with this method is data tables.

    I quite often have to deal with and manipulate large data tables. Have you tried removing a column in a text editor? My regular expressions just aren’t up to it!

    Has anyone found anything even nearly as good at dreamweaver at manipulating data tables without messing up the code?

  10. I use Dreamweaver and Topstyle, both in code-only mode.

    I only use the preview mode (or design view) for debugging purposes and to get a feel as to what the design might look like, as it’s not always the safest thing to rely 100% on the preview or WYSIWYG for that matter.

    Dreamweaver’s WYSIWYG mode is perfect for beginners, only if they’re referencing the code in addition to the design (or preview) mode. I know I started using this method to learn how to code HTML (and XHTML) properly, but now I’ve moved on to strictly hand-coding sites.

  11. I use Dreamweaver all the time, but I never use the design view. The thing I love about Dreamwevaer that I haven’t found in any other editor, is the nice integrated FTP. I LOVE that I can finish a page and do a quick Ctrl-S, Shift-Ctrl-U, and it is uploaded. I think Dreamweaver does a pretty decent job with syntax coloring and whatnot, but honestly, I deal with a few things I don’t love about Dreamweaver just because the FTP makes it SO easy. If anyone knows of a good editor (I mainly need it for PHP, XHTML, and CSS) that has built-in FTP as good as Dreamweaver’s, please let me know. In fact, I may go post about this on my own blog now.

  12. Everyone loves to bash dreamweaver and dreamweaver users. It’s really quite annoying. Dreamweaver, when used in code view only, is an incredibly useful program. There is no other program that I know of that integrades syntax coloring for as many languages as this program does. It also has great built in reference books for css, html, javascript and more, which is pretty nice if you find that you are googling for info often. Plus, it’s cross-platform. The only downside, to me, is that is costs major $$$. If you want to code on the cheep, a simple text editor (or bbedit, skedit, etc) is the way to go.

  13. I think what separates those of us who code “by hand” and those who use WYSIWYG editors is when we started. Back in my day (10 years ago…) they just didn’t really exist, and if you learned without them, there’s no reason to start now. Besides, it’s a badge of honor in some respects, no? ;)

    Despite being a Mac nazi, I still like Homesite and have long considered getting VirtualPC for that one app alone. The only app that I know offers similar fucntionality on the Mac side is Dreamweaver so I typically use that for Mac-based development after many years of BBEdit. But I’ve never even opened the design view in DW.

    There may come a day when browsers are standards compliant and WYSIWYG editors catch up, but for now, I can’t ever imagine making such a switch. And I actually think a WYSIWYG tool would slow me down anyway.

    I would be interested to see if people are using CSS editors at all, TopStyle, etc. I’ve never used one of those either. Suggestions?

  14. September 21, 2005 by Adrian Bengtson

    When I switched from table based layout to css based layout I also stopped using Dreamweaver almost completely. But there’s one thing that I have a hard time doing efficient when I hand code and that’s tables. And I mean, of course, real tables, not table based layout. Working with tables and tabular data in Dreamweaver design view is way more efficient than hand coding.

  15. Already commented on this back over at Whitespace

    pro-WYSIWYG comments make me want to scream/cry…

  16. I love Dreamweaver in wysiwyg view. Always have, always will. I’m glad the rest of you like wasting time…

    Trollish of me, I know, but you’re all sounding ignorant. Next I’ll hear that you’d never hire someone who uses a PC.

  17. I get so very tired of you guys and your elitist attitudes. That you actually look down on people because they use an application created for the soul purpose of coding sites?! Good grief? Who are you people? Do you live in the real world of deadlines and true responsibilities? I am quite impressed with any one’s ability to write clean code but don’t knock us poor dopes that resort to Dreamweaver and the like. Get off your high horse already!

  18. September 21, 2005 by Kevin Navia

    Used Dreamweaver… but never used the design view, just the nice code help when writing a piece of markup/css.

    It really doesn’t help much in the long run as I’m not really using 75% of the program - it just makes me work faster.

    Anyone would have alternatives… please do send me a note.

  19. Is Dreamweaver a WYSIWYG application? No, it’s an application with WYSIWYG capabilities. That’s a vast difference.

    I almost exclusively use Dreamweaver (and sometimes Visual Studio) when developing for the web, and I never ever enter the Design view. I don’t see the need to sit in Notepad instead of Dreamweaver where I get Intellisense and colored syntax - my time is too precious to waste on Notepad. Since I more often than not work with PHP or ASP.NET it’s almost essential to have DW around.

  20. Peter, I also learned HTML about 10 years ago, and that was about the last time I used a WYSIWYG editor. Don’t know what they had for Mac, but I remember using something called HotDog Pro. This review from that time period extols some of it’s great features:

    Text Effects: Jiggling text. Incredible Shrinking Text. Moving Text. All sorts of things. This… can really liven up your page! They are funnnnn and, fortunately, not obtrusive like awful blinking text!

    Not obtrusive. Right.

  21. Dreamweaver in code view only, write everything by hand. I only love using dreamweaver over notepad.exe, for example, because it finishes my tags as I “start” them, and has a built in validator.

  22. Good grief? Who are you people? Do you live in the real world of deadlines and true responsibilities?


    I learned HTML, and used notepad for quite a while, until I got a job where deadlines were just as important as “pretty” coding.

    Like the others, I live mostly in Code view. However, WYSIWYG/Design view does have its uses.

    Roger - Your post did rub me the wrong way. I would advise against judging how serious a web designer is based on their application/coding preferences. By the way - have you tried Dreamweaver 8? Many improvements.

  23. September 21, 2005 by Gary Turner

    Hand coders are on their high horse? There is no code generator that can produce sane html+css. There are too many choices and decisions involved.

    I have to clean up behind DW all too often. I feel like the guy following the elephants in the circus parade.

    Give me Emacs and Tidy, and I’m good to go.



  24. Paraphrased from what many of you are saying: “I only use Dreamweaver for it’s Code View.” … You have got to be kidding me. That sounds about as efficient as the U.S. Army’s $400 hammer. Just because it’s a, so-called, industry standard, you aren’t required to use it! Sheesh. Designers should be thinking of real standards in their code rather than being a lemming and jumping on a bandwagon. Colored syntax? Code completion? There are much cheaper ways to get that. There are even free ways to do it. Take all that money you saved from not upgrading to Dreamweaver 8 and buy your buddies a round of drinks at your local watering hole.

  25. Abhay, trust me - I’ve tested most free- and shareware software but Dreamweaver is still the most efficient one. And as long as I’m not paying for the software on my workplace’s computer, I’m happy.

    If you have tips on efficient editors with intellisense, highlighted syntax and built-in ftp-capabilities and that don’t have a GUI that makes me cry, I’d really like to try them.

  26. I must agree with AlastairC and Jonathan Snook. For those who really know html, Dreamweaver’s design view is a real timesaver, rather than a threat to code validation.

    Rearranging rows and columns in data tables, copy-pasting of big chunks of text from outside applications, fast typing with lots of special characters in iso-8859-1 (don’t start on me!) … To me, those are reality issues that are best solved in design view.

  27. September 21, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Wow, what a huge response to so few words :-)

    Ok, I think I need to clarify a few things, so here goes:

    Use Dreamweaver in code view all you want. If that’s the tool you like, and you can justify spending the money on it, fine.

    But I honestly doubt the skills of anyone who feels the need to use the design view to build sites. Sorry. If you use it to format content or create data tables, fine, as long as you make sure to check the resulting code.

    But don’t use it to drag and drop stuff around when creating templates or whatever. That is using the tool the wrong way, and it is because of Frontpage and Dreamweaver jockeys working that way that web development and web design is being viewed as “something anybody can do”.

    And don’t give me that “real world” crap. Don’t you think I live in that real world of deadlines and responsibilites too? I do. I very much do.

  28. Hmm. Interesting comments here. I thought everyone would surf the “notepad only, WYSIWYG for teh noob” wave, but obviously there are sensible comments here that may make me reconsider these tools.

    As for craftsmanship : I’m sure people building anything with a WYSIWYG tool have the feeling it is hand crafted. Just like when you make something beautiful in Photoshop. Would you think “ok that’s pretty, but with a wysiwyg tool. Let’s do it command line with imagemagick instead” ?

  29. Tried Dreamweaver a few times. Using the code view, with syntax highlighting, built in help and ftp support is quite nice. However, its pretty $$$, so I don’t use it.

    Does anyone have some tips where to look for a free editor that have these features?

  30. Give me a text editor with good syntax colouring for a range of languages, support for a configurable HTML tidy (I need to deal with MS Word exported crap on a regular basis), a WYSIWYG table editor, as well as (S)FTP and site management support and I’ll drop Dreamweaver in no time.

  31. A little bit out of topic but, does anyone is using NVU the open source editor that claims to be an equivalent of Dreamweaver ?

    Like other said I use it to edit text of static pages and for some tables creation but not for designing pages.

  32. I use Dreamweaver. Do I need it? Hell no. I figured its under corporate lisencing I may as well. But still to the contrary, I am by far not even coming close to using any of its development features… it’s purely a syntax delite and a handy FTP built in…. and now I don’t even do that for security reasons.

    By now everyone should know of the common free editors. nobody should actually have to mention them. Come on, it’s 2005, keep up, search for them.

  33. Roger, I have to say I found your remarks rather sweeping. It is a false caricature of WYSIWYG users. I don’t work full time designing web sites, but I am an IT professional who spends some time most weeks in Dreamweaver.

    I fully agree that any IT professional, whatever their particular area of work must fully understand that area, but that does not preclude the use of tools.

    No-one would dream of ‘hand coding’ in machine code any more. It certainly would provide startlingly fast applications, but tools came along to allow programmers to work better and faster. These tools also allowed some lesser skilled individuals to produce some awful software, but that doesn’t mean that the tools per se are wrong.

    As someone who is still learning HTML/CSS/ASP/Javascript/SQL I like to work in Dreamweaver for most of the time. Occasionally I find HomeSite is better when there is a lot of ASP or Javascript, or sometimes just for setting up basic structures.

    Most of the time I spend in Dreamweaver’s split mode, where I can code in one window whilst previewing in the other. Does this mean I am less skilled than you and the elite designers? Certainly, but I am sure at some stage after you code your page you then preview it either locally or on a web server - surely this is not so far apart from Dreamweaver rendering the page within the application to reflect the changes you make in code?

    I love to read the web design blogs in order to learn and apply that learning. Generally there is a good natured willingness to help those still learning the trade, an encouragement to develop skills. I think this helps the whole industry much more than sweeping comments that put down a particular section of the community, because they are not as skilled and talented as the ones at the top.

  34. PS. Ironic that all this mention of Dreamweaver has got Google Ads selling it at the top of the page. :)

  35. I hand code all my stuff. Our clients who need to update page we’ve made for them aren’t happy enough with a textarea box full of HTML or plain text so we gave them Dreamweaver. What an upgrade! They’re happy because they change copy (such as tables) and I think the output from Dreamweaver is goog enough. After all, they can only with the content inside the page, not the header(banner, menu, breadcrumb) and footer.

  36. I guess I should have added to my comments above saying that if you are using Dreamweaver or some other high-priced app but you don’t have to pay for it, it’s all yours. Actually if I had that choice, I’d be using Zend Studio rather than Dreamweaver (Now if they could just implement a Subversion interface, I’d just save up to buy it). The rest of us who don’t work for a design studio, or own one, that can afford it can stick to our stone-age tools and waste (cough) our time.

    Personally, If I need to do a lot of repetitive tasks, I look to see where my code can be more efficient. If I have to type out two thousand table row tags, I wonder why I have to do this and maybe all I have to do is produce a small snippet of PHP or Javascript to replace this; in the case that I can’t use scripting languages, I script out the html and paste the output into the file that I’m creating.

  37. September 21, 2005 by Richard Earney

    BBEdit since the dawn of time! But used Dreamweaver for complex tables, and in its coding view. But also for its site management. Need to move a file and have all the links move with it - DW does that. Need to site check - DW does that.

    I haven’t yet found anything that does it quite as well. Are there any better apps?

  38. Recently I changed employers and in my new position I was given a copy of Dreamweaver to work with. I honestly gave it my best shot for a week, but in the end I crumbled and got them to purchase a copy of TextPad for me. Dreamweaver’s so slow for nearly every common task I need to do. The only thing it seems to have going for it over TextPad is better syntax highlighting.

    As for design view, I’ve used WYSIWYG editors in the past to make quick adjustments to the data on old pages - it’s usually quicker than scanning through vast swathes of code looking for that one element you need to change. Luckily my days of maintaining old code seem to be mostly behind me.

  39. September 21, 2005 by Lucky M

    When I switched to tableless design I stopped using Dreamweaver preview but continued to use code view for few months. Suddenly I completely switched to notepad and TopStyle. Now I use Notepad 2 which I strongly recomend for syntax coloring. For me this process came naturaly.

  40. Interesting “debate” - there are a number of reasons that I use Dreamweaver, despite the fact that I was certain I never would.

    Firstly, I’m simply used to its site management tools now - in particular its integrated FTP is incredibly useful. Now that I’ve switched to a Mac, there was no change at all in my habits that I learned on my PC using Dreamweaver.

    Secondly, it deals with pasted text from Word documents very nicely in design view.

    Finally - the reason I started using Dreamweaver in the first place. I see a lot of contracts/tenders that include statements like “mandatory experience with Dreamweaver.” And it’s that simple. It doesn’t matter that I can hand code in any text editor - if I don’t meet those mandatory minimum requirements, I’m automatically disqualified from the competition. Sometimes when I’m preparing a new copy of my CV, I’ll include a project where I list “Dreamweaver” under “Technology Used:” It feels funny, but it must be done.

    What’s it like there in Sweden, Roger? Any similar requirements for tools such as Dreamweaver in government tenders/contracts?

  41. But I honestly doubt the skills of anyone who feels the need to use the design view to build sites. Sorry.

    Roger, I’m honestly a little insulted. Like I said earlier, I use Dreamweaver in WYSIWYG view often and I’m pretty sure I know my way around HTML quite well. I’ve never argued that it’s a substitute for knowledge. No GUI-based tool can help you comprehend a technology and I certainly wouldn’t advocate learning HTML/CSS with it. But as a professional tool, it can be used to create clean, semantic code quickly and easily. Ever built a 100 page site? what about 1000? or even 5000? And you hand-coded every page? Tell you what, subcontract those projects to me, I’ll do it in a quarter of the time and we can split the profits. Oh, but wait… you doubt my skills…

  42. September 21, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Derek: No such requirements exist as far as I know.

    Jonathan: Do you really use Dreamweaver when you set up the design and layout of a site? Draw “layers” and position them visually? Nudge one object a couple of pixels to the left and another a few pixels up? I would be very surprised if you do.

    That’s what I mean by using a WYSIWYG tool the wrong way. If I understand you correctly, you are talking about using Dreamweaver’s WYSIWYG view when working with content. That is a completely different thing, and makes much more sense.

    I’m very sorry that you feel insulted. Not my intention.

  43. Derek - this may sound a bit on the inflexible side, but in my experience if a company says “Dreamweaver experience mandatory” then they generally don’t have in place the development practises that let me use my skills to their fullest. That is; not the sort of company I’d want to work for.

  44. Robin - the places I’m referring to that state “Dreamweaver experience mandatory” are actually for government contracts and tenders, not companies. The reality of it is this: if you want to get government contracts, you have to meet the mandatory requirements, or you are automatically disqualified from the competition.

  45. September 21, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Tell you what - I downloaded a trial version of Dreamweaver 8 last week and gave it a spin. Didn’t like it much, but I will try to use it instead of BBEdit until it expires. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a switcher ;-).

  46. “I only use Dreamweaver for it’s Code View.” … You have got to be kidding me. That sounds about as efficient as the U.S. Army’s $400 hammer. Well, splah! It’s also slow, and a memory HOG. But when I’m doing work at a company that thinks Windows is the cat’s pajamas — and is paying for the software and a fast box — code view is just fine. Otherwise, I’m happy to stick with BBEdit.

    Every single time someone has handed me DW-generated code, crazy amounts of clean-up had to follow. Learn to hand code: it’s faster, better, and you’ll get a better understanding of how your site works.

  47. Derek - fair enough. The company I work for does UK Government sites but we work from the CMS level, so DW templates aren’t required for interoperability. Unlucky though.

  48. I use Dreamweaver MX, but as a text editor.

    People often associate DW as being a WYSIWYG tool, but I look at it as a text editor on steroids. I think DW has pretty damn good CSS support and I spend 99% of my time in code view since I hand code everything, but I like it’s layout, my quick access to files, stylesheets, etc…

    People put DW down because they automatically think it’s WYSIWYG only, and that is just not the case.

    It’s still a text/code editor.

  49. Roger: It’s the sweeping declarations that anyone using a WYSIWYG tool obviously doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s such a blanket statement that does a disservice to the web development community.

    No, I don’t use Dreamweaver to build the template. I hand-code that part and then use Dreamweaver to lock my editable regions and then use the design view to layout and format content. Setting headers, formatting data tables, hyperlinking stuff. Content is 90% of the work.

    Dreamweaver also has one of the best search and replace tools I’ve ever seen. They also have a number of extensions specifically designed to assist in ensuring accessibility issues. It has a built in validator. And it’s templating system is powerful enough that I can redo the template of a site in an afternoon.

    I heart Dreamweaver.

  50. But I honestly doubt the skills of anyone who feels the need to use the design view to build sites. Sorry. If you use it to format content or create data tables, fine, as long as you make sure to check the resulting code.

    But don’t use it to drag and drop stuff around when creating templates or whatever. That is using the tool the wrong way, and it is because of Frontpage and Dreamweaver jockeys working that way that web development and web design is being viewed as “something anybody can do”.

    I agree with this statement. People that spend 100% of their time in design view dragging and dropping, IMO, is not a professional. My grandmother can do that if she wanted, but that doesn’t make her a professional. Knowing how to code a website is where your professional expertise comes in, because code view is where you going to fix all the mistakes DESIGN view gives you.

    Design view IN MOST CASES bloats up your markup.

    Funny thing is, I started out on DW 4 in design mode. I didn’t know how to code by hand. Guess what, the more knowledgable I became, the less time I spend in Design view.

    I use Design view for quick previews or if I have to copy and paste some data quickly and I KNOW it won’t mess with my markup. DW has alot of great qualities to it other then just having a design view.

    Do me a favor to those who LOVE DW design mode.

    Take a complicated CSS layout and build one by hand, and then build one 100% in design view.

    Then, compare the markup and browser consistency. Lets see how the final product fairs.

    I would bet my bank account on the hand coded website, even if it takes 2 extra hours.

    And that deadline comment is complete and utter bullshit. I work for a web development company and all we have is deadlines, constantly. ANY web developer will have deadlines, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality code just to meet a deadline. Someone who is a good coder can hand code very quickly.

  51. Dreamweaver also has one of the best search and replace tools I’ve ever seen.

    Funny, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. It’s a feature match for my editor of choice (mostly) but it takes a good few times longer to actually do the search and replace.

  52. I am a hand coder with a problem. It’s my responsibility to train the other web designers in my company to design with css. They come from graphic design backgrounds and live by Dreamweaver (MX04). It is inconceivable to suggest they give up Dreamweaver and design by the code. They’ve all started using CSS to some degree, but is it possible to design with standards AND use a WYSIWYG editor? Any thoughts on where to start?

    The comments above are very discouraging.

  53. Robin: which editor is that? Can you search and replace based on elements and attributes? Like, can I search for all images without alt text? or all links that start with http://? or every bold element inside an h2?

  54. TextPad. And yes, based on regexps (but then that’s how I used Dreamweaver). As far as I know there’s no explicit search functionality like you’re describing - if that exists in Dreamweaver then fair enough.

  55. I was going to say, Regular expressions will be the way to handle what your looking for Jonathan.

  56. Yes, DW has this type of search functionality. Regular expressions are great but can be confusing and time-consuming to create and test — specifically for more complex matching.

    (okay… I think I’ve hijacked this conversation enough. ;) )

  57. September 21, 2005 by andrea

    I can think of several “web developers” who point at the designers and say, “Your code sucks!”, and lots of designers that point back and say “Your design sucks!”.

    Seems like another pointless pc/mac flame war, to me.

  58. Lots of talk about Dreamweaver, lots of talk about handcoding. Yet, no one’s talking about the tools they use to do all that handcoding. I’m amazed I haven’t seen anyone extolling the virtues of tools like HomeSite+ (my personal favorite from back in the days of Allaire’s ColdFusion Studio) and TopStyle as quality text editors. I’m sure there’s more out there, but those are my weapons of choice.

  59. Use TopStyle Pro almost for everything (CSS, HTML, XML, XSL). Use Dreamweaver for mockup (DW 8 - great improvements on preview in design mode, because of use Opera engine).

    Used (and still use some times) DW when hacking table-designed sites. No doubt - Dreamweaver great tool. Don’t use it like hammer.

  60. For those who can’t find a sutaible and freeware programmer’s editor here is one to check: PSPad. It not for xhtml/css only, but has some specialised functions for it.

    I simply love it :)

  61. For those who can’t find a sutaible and freeware programmer’s editor here is one to check: PSPad. It not for xhtml/css only, but has some specialised functions for it.

    Agree. Good editor. Use it from time to time too. ;)

  62. Jonathan, I don’t think you’ve hijacked the conversation; I think you’ve been the voice of reason.

    “But I honestly doubt the skills of anyone who feels the need to use the design view to build sites. Sorry. If you use it to format content or create data tables, fine, as long as you make sure to check the resulting code.” — Roger’s amendment is very different from the original post, which I also found somewhat offensive.

    Like Jonathan, I hand code my templates and CSS, and then I use Dreamweaver to manipulate the content and organize the site. The site management features are fabulous.

    Here’s my sweeping generalization: Anyone who manages the content of a large site by hand coding it is wasting huge amounts of time for no good reason.

  63. Does any WYSIWYG developer care about making sites truly accessible or is it just speed that you care about. I manage almost 20 policy manuals for a state agency that mandates ALL content be accessible. Try achieving this in a WYSIWYG tool. Yeah you’ll get the job done fast but is it accessible.

    I’m not knocking Dreamweaver, I’ve used it, but now I stay with hand coding. I spend about the same amount of time hand coding and making sure everything is done correctly up front as I would fixing code after it is developed in a WYSIWYG application.

    You people think Dreamweaver is bad, my IT department still allows internal staff to develop web content with Frontpage, including the own “web developers”.

    I’m not here to say what I do is better than what anyone else does. I think what allot of us are trying to say is that the term WEB DEVELOPER has become an overused term to mean anyone who can build a web site.

    The prime reason for this is because to many people have begun sacrificing quality for speed.

    And I as well know more than I care to about deadlines, but you know something, once I explain to my management that the product developed by a slight delay in their timeframe will be more efficient, more accessible, and more useable by our 3500 employees, guess what, I get the time I need.

    And as far as massive data tables go, ummm, trying simplifying the damn thing.

  64. Here’s my sweeping generalization: Anyone who manages the content of a large site by hand coding it is wasting huge amounts of time for no good reason.

    Ok, there is my version: Anyone who manages the content of a large site by hand coding or by using tools like DW is wasting huge amounts of time for no good reason.

    Maybe Jonathan is an exception that confirms the rule, but I see sites produced by real-world deadline pressured IT-professionals daily, and the result is… oh, well.

  65. I remember using something called HotDog Pro.

    I remember that program as well. That company made a bunch of different web apps. I believe they also had a .gif animator. It’s amazing to think that was ten years ago.

    I never saw Dreamweaver in action until I began working with my mom on our church web site. She uses it primarily in text mode (although I’m still working with her on streamlining her code). She raves about the template features. I use includes, but I can see the benefit of templates.

    She uses Dreamweaver because her company pays for it. But she concedes that she would just use TextPad if it was coming out of her own wallet. TextPad is the only app I’m comfortable editing with. I can do a quick fix on the go in Notepad, but I would never do any extensive coding in anything besides TextPad (and believe me, I’ve tried).

  66. WYSIWYG editos will never ever create “perfect” code. While validity must be manageable, semantics require the user to know of it, and accessibility also asks for certain knowledge. Consequently, no “real” Web pro will ever use such a tool. And those actual users will always disqualify themselves.

  67. My work is more than happy to pay for constant upgrades to DW, but I, too, find it cumbersome and stick to NoteTab Pro and TopStyle. NoteTab lets you configure your own menus so that your most-used code snippets are one click away.

    I’m not entirely sure what the huge benefit of built-in FTP is anyway. It takes me, oh, 4 to 5 seconds to fire up my FTP program.

  68. in the fore-mention, I too, also like pspad.

    Now onto my 2.5 cents

    I agree with points on both sides of this particular discussion.

    It is true, there weren’t any WYSIWYG apps back in the day, so you were forced to into learning to code by hand.

    True many WYSIWYG’s today have some faults and limitations, however, over the years, applications like Dreamweaver have added a lot of functions that make the work flow process much more streamlined and a value-added tool for business and web dev firms.

    True, some people can code faster in a text editor then in Dreamweaver. But it really depends on individual’s preference, their environment, and their budget.

    To state that people, who use WYSIWYGs editors, are not as skilled or less knowledgeable as text-editor coders is not only short-sighted, but very presumptuous in nature. This is would not only be perceived as an elitist attitude, but, in general, a conceited one. It would be like a mechanic stating, I only repair cars with hand tools only, and it’s the only way to understand a car completely, and if you use any automatic tools, you know nothing about cars. Even though, today, they use computers to diagnose cars and automated hand tools for lots of simple repair tasks.

    True, however, if one uses the preview feature only and only the preview feature, then yes you’re not coding anything, you’re just simply dragging and dropping. We all know that there are no skill required for this, but for some people, the preview feature is a great way to learn about coding. As long as people are using it to learn about html, css, and other coding languages, and not just to learn how to use an app. Many people naturally learn things visually faster and with much more ease. Although, I would agree that preview only would not be the accepted work practice for a web developer.

    Applications like Dreamweaver are not only used in business/corporate/individual situations, but are also used in training environments. If you observe these training environments, whether it’s in a college or technical training center, you will notice that they incorporate a split view environment, so the student can see what they are coding to better understand how things function.

    Bottom-line, there are upsides and downsides to both sides of this discussion. Sure many people can hand code a page via a text-editor, however if you know how to do this and even have a working/full understanding…. then there’s no law against using an app like dreamweaver to automate and simplify your work flow. You are not going to be any less of a coder if you do use a Dreamweaver-like app.

    Take a look at the application development tools available today. Many come with preview/in app execute functionality, but you don’t hear them spatting elitist comments just because someone coded a 32 bit app with a preview function built in. In fact it’s almost the opposite attitude. Granted coding applications can typically be more complex and in-depth then your everyday web development project, but the same principle existed. There was a time when everyone had to hand code applications, line by line of basic, fortran, cobalt, etc. It’s interesting to me is how that side of the development world, embraced the dreamweaver like app, to make their jobs more easier and streamlined. Where on the other side of the coin, hard core text editor web developers have taken the opposite stand with these applications.

    In the end, there’s really no argument, no debate, only certain people who have personal issues with the choices available today, and who uses what and how.

    In close, remember this. There will always be elitists in ever aspect of life, but in the end, the elitists are just that, elitists. And guess what, the rest of the world will continue what they are doing, how they are doing it, and complete their projects, the way they choose do it.

  69. Do none of the pro-design mode people use server side includes and proper (e.g. non-DW) templates? Weird. I hand code everything and wouldn’t dream of repeating unnecessary code. Hand coded markup will always be more efficient than WYSIWYG markup - just a fact of life.

    I’m amazed no ones mentioned HTML-Kit yet. Free, supports not only integrated FTP but allows you to open a file on the remote server and resave it on the fly, has oodles of plug ins one of which is a superlative Search and Replace - which it will do on unopen files inside recursive directories and create backups of everything first to boot. Colour coded syntax, code completion if you should want such a thing and no hefty price tag, no memory hogging, no Fischer-Price interface. Why settle for mass produced burgers when you have steak available?

    Oh it even has a table generator plug-in so you DW boys feel all at home ;o)

  70. I use DW and have since version 2 when it was handed to me as part of the tool kit for my job. I used Allaire’s Homesite before that and hand coded freaking everything before that (around ‘95 or so is when I started). Today DW is an integral necessary part of my job. As a small team of web people working for a mid-large size institution we require the use of content managers (people appointed from their units or departments) to maintain their content. These people (and we have some 150 content managers) have varying degree of web knowledge - from none to semi-pro. DW’s ability to lock down templates and work with Contribute make it a godsend for the departmental secretaries made web content managers. Or for departments that have multiple users working on the same content - DW/Contribute’s file locking mechanism works wonders for not allowing people to overwrite each others’ work. And then for us, when we’re called to change an element that needs to filter down through say 500 pages and it takes less than 5 minutes because of the templates. I work in split view or code view because we write using css + xhtml and that’s the hand rolled part. In our situation, I couldn’t begin to think how else we could control the integrity of the sites we build or manage their administration - it certainly could never be done by hand coding it all.

  71. Generally I agree with Roger-man here. If you want to use a WYSIWYG tool to edit your content etc, go ahead.

    But drag ‘n’ drop to create a complete layout would be just horrible. I think also that when it comes to the finer aspects of semantics, accessibility etc, you need some hands-on knowledge in code view.


    Ever built a 100 page site? what about 1000? or even 5000? And you hand-coded every page?

    I don’t really believe that happens anymore (and if it does, it sounds terribily inefficient). Basically, any web site with more than roughly five pages will have content automatically generated from a database, and shown through different template pages.

    Literary every web page out there (professional, I mean, not personal web sites with pics of people’s pets etc) are based on a number of templates, which usually differs from maybe 5-20 different ones. More than that would really hurt the consistency of the web site and the experience for the end user. Then the content of these templates will dynamically be filled, be it from MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle or XML.

  72. Here’s a thought I like Dreamwaver for it’s ftp feature and work flow I use CSS&XHTML .php etc.

    screw notepad i use a yellow pad and pencil for my intial mark-ups.

    Let take a note Wysiwyg Editor in design mode is useless when your styling your page with pure css.

    But I promote My own work do print/webdesign. I have deadlines Hand code all you want I don’t care . Im still hand Codeing anyways but the work enivroment in dreamweaver saves me alot of time. and keeps the files in order.

    So my point a view is that my customer is happy with finished quality product.

    not if i hand coded or did a rain dance

    Besides I perfer nice printed product over webdesign anyday.

  73. I don’t really believe that happens anymore (and if it does, it sounds terribily inefficient). Basically, any web site with more than roughly five pages will have content automatically generated from a database, and shown through different template pages.

    Robert: You’d be surprised. Many organizations are merely smaller components of an even larger organization. This larger organization often has security requirements that prohibit web applications to be installed in their environment. As a result, we’re left building static content.

    Just to give you an example, we recently completed a project of over 400 static HTML pages. The only dynamic stuff we could do was perl scripts running in a cgi-bin folder.

    Besides, most CMS’s have poor editors and using Dreamweaver to layout your content before pasting into your CMS isn’t a bad approach either. I’ve often done that for my own site.

  74. Jonathan,

    That sounds really bad.

    The situation here in Sweden is that most companies, no matter the size, use Content Management Systems.

    In the case you describe, it sounds like a given that the larger organization need to to offer that in some way to its smaller parts.

    I can’t understand how it can be economically defendable to have 400+ hard-coded pages! How does one justify that?

    Besides, most CMS’s have poor editors

    This is very true. I wrote about it this spring in my WYSIWYG Hell post, where a lot of good alternatives are mentioned, both in the post and in the comments (Roger, please remove this link if you don’t find it suiting).

  75. I learned HTML coding back in the day when there was no such thing as a WYSIWYG editor, much as other posters here did. I also use Dreamweaver (MX2004) everyday, both in my day job and in my freelancing.

    Why? Because I can manage multiple sites effortlessly - if I change a filename or move it to another folder, DW will automatically adjust all references to it. I also love the find/replace functionality, which is mighty powerful without ever needing to get tangled up in regular expressions (now there’s an oxymoron!). Syntax highlighting, syntax completion, visual feedback (in code view) for malformed markup, built-in references for a variety of technologies … etc.

    Most pros use DW as a text-editor on steroids and for it’s site-management capabilities, and rarely move into design view. It’s a good tool, and there’s really nothing else like it that combines all those “pro” features with an at least usable visual interface for non-technical folk.

    For the record, I also use several text editors on both PC (Crimson Editor mainly) and Mac (SubEtha Edit mainly), as the need arises.

  76. This whole discussion of hand-coding vs. wysiwyg-editors feels so.. old and outdated. I handcoded my first site in 1999 using only Notepad and a book on HTML. The nested table layout for that site took me probably a week to finish. After that I’ve been using Dreamweaver to ORGANIZE code, files, graphics etc.; not only xthml/css, but also PHP, XML, CF, ActionScript. And hardly ever do I start with a blank page. Just the thought of pulling up Notepad (Textpad, Ultrapad, SciteFlash…) and starting with a blank page is scary. Instead of starting with a blank page I either steal from myself or use some kind of template. Does that mean that I don’t know how to hand-code? Of course not.

    Perhaps a better approach to this whole thing would be to examine how a developer/designer actually works and build and IDE that helps productivity. Usability and good design is the key.

    My 2 öre.

  77. I got into this arguement on sitepoint. I am an avid dreamweaver user ( I write CF code so its perfectly suited )

    I am at the point where I can ‘expect’ the results of each tool I use. If it writes the code exactly how I want, then I use it. If not, code view, hand code ( well I rely on tag completion tools heavily too .. it helps me learn more about each tag even )

    .. but there is a good reason that these tools exist, its called productivity. Maybe Im not on the ‘456 level’ yet but getting there quick. I do not think that DW affects the quality of my code in any way, but to make it better. Not to mention the validation that is built in.. works great.

    Hand coding is so 90’s. Its not the arrow, its the indian. Tools, like DW, when used by a true professional, yield ‘equivalent’ to hand coded results.

  78. Some 40 last comments show the discussion moved to another area. It’s not to hand code or do it with a visual tool anymore. Now it deals with the way we work, our workflow.

    It’s obvious everyone get accustomed to his/her own way. It’s been worked out hard and grew from experience. This makes us trust they are nearly the best of what we can do. It’s hard to imagine and admit it can be done in other way.

    Is it really incoceivable for you, DW users, that working in code can be equally effective and productive? It really is. And it’s not because hand-coder type so fast. That’s because of a methods we use. I’ll try to address a few issues.

    • Starting with blank page? Type the same over and over? Why should we do that? We use ready templates and libraries of own best-practices code snippets. Our 90’s editors let us use it.

    • Multi-language syntax highligting, tag completion, built-in validation, code autoformatting, help on elements? No problem too.

    • Preview mode? Use Opera - it supports outline property or developer toolbar in Firefox.

    • Hand coding 400 static pages’ site? Why should anyone do it? For every site with more than 5 pages use CMS. Use it even for smaller ones. Afraid non-technical aware publishers will destroy it? Use CMS with user privileges. Your customer will be more than thankful for not having to ask you and pay you for changing every little piece of content.

    If you can’t use CMS then your company’s sales force failed to do its job. But even if it’s the case use server side includes, templates in, say, PHP and text files for content. If even PHP is forbidden than do yourself a favor and write a parser which will generate them for you from XML templates and text or database content. You don’t even have to write it yourself. There are such tools available. For free. In worst case, do the site in CSM, then use website copier.

  79. Greg: I made this argument to Robert Nyman via email but I feel it needs to be stated in the public. How does using a CMS save me time in developing a site? DW is template-based just as any CMS is. Content (especially in a 400+ site) is 90% of the development time in a project. That work has to be done whether it’s a CMS, hand-coded or using Dreamweaver.

    You can still use SSI, PHP, CFML, ASP, whatever you want and still use Dreamweaver to handle content.

    Now, I’ve never argued that DW should be your only tool under every circumstance. I’ve yet to see something apply to 100% of the problems out there. If there was, that company would be raking it in. (Seriously, I’d buy shares!) But don’t disregard it as a possible solution just because it’s got WYSIWYG capabilities.

  80. Jonathan: The initial work to be done is always the same regarding building the site. Once it’s done CMS lets you separate content from presentation and leave it to the publisher. CMS assures the publisher will be able to edit content and do ONLY that. After all it’s his work, not yours - the developer. Looking at the development from this point of view it can save you a lot of work.

    Shall the publisher use WYSWIG editor in CMS (not an application like DW!) is in question. I think it depends on content. It may be equally handy to use Markdown or Textile.

    I am not disregarding DW or any other visual tool as it may be very productive in proper hands. My point was that hand coding IS efficient and productive to the same extent as when using tools with WISWIG capabilities. And this seemed to be disregarded by some DW users here.

    PS. Sorry for typos in my recent post. It was very late here :)

  81. September 24, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jonathan: Agreed, a CMS won’t necessarily save you time when working with the content of a site. But it will let you or your client or anyone in your client’s organisation manage the site from anywhere without having to install an application. And it will separate content from presentation by storing it in a database instead of in hundreds or thousands of HTML files.

  82. Hi, I just realized that my recent experience redesigning the NAIFA ( http://www.naifa.org ) web site (a team of three of us did it) might be of interest to this discussion.

    Using templates developed in Dreamweaver (client will edit in Contribute), I found that unclosed element tags caused the template to become uneditable on a specific page. Fixing the error brought the template back to editability (detaching and reapplying was sometimes needed).

    This should force the client to produce better pages (won’t say valid, conforming, just better). This is an unintended result of using Dreamweaver templates. For me it’s an interesting benefit of having used Dreamweaver.

    Of course, the same may be true for a CMS. But we won the contract because we were not pushing a particular CMS. The client was leary of being stuck with a proprietary system, and wanted a Dreamweaver/Contribute solution. The first thing she said was, “I hope you’re not pushing your own CMS on us. That’s what every other group has done.” As it happened, we didn’t think they needed a CMS, so we won the contract.

    The actual coding of the templates and home page was done in BBEdit and Homesite, but much of the editing and all of the transfer was done in Dreamweaver.

    We’re still working on finishing touches, but today at least, the home page validates, as do most or all of the .cfm pages. The remaining .html pages are ones we didn’t touch from the old site and probably don’t validate.

    The client actually sees the desktop limitation of Contribute as a positive. She wants to limit editing to one designated person per section, so Contribute will work well. Then she will review and publish pages from Dreamweaver, which she can do from office or home.

    As in every project, the specifics dictate the best course to take.

  83. October 3, 2005 by Brian

    I think a better analogy than Paul’s mechanic, would be making dinner.

    There are lots of tools, and time saving devices, available in the kitchen. If you want to make a tv-dinner, you stick it in the microwave and, ding, it’s done. If you want to make a really complicated dinner (with several courses), you prepare, and cook, everything using all the tools you need (and are comfortable with), including, if necessary, the microwave.

    So someone using WYSIWYG, alone, to create websites, is eating a lot of tv dinners, and that’s ok, if they can’t cook!

    On the other hand, someone who can cook, and knows about ingredients, can still use the microwave, but they should know better than using it for everything (even if it is one of those combi-ovens).

  84. My biggest problem with Dreamweaver and most visual editors is that their WYSIWYG modes do not come close to web browsers when dealing with modern CSS. I had to use FrontPage 2002 for one client, and pretty much anything dealing with positioning and backgrounds was not shown correctly. Even Dreamweaver MX 2004 for the Mac uses Opera 6.0 as its rendering engine!

    While all the templates and the site build-out are usually hand coded, I am typically forced to make the pages “Dreamweaver compatible” since clients don’t have the time or inclination to deal with basic HTML markup. Besides locking down the non-content areas, it means making pages look good in the editor. Many clients still complain when they open the site in WYSIWYG mode and it doesn’t look 100% like it does in IE (elements not showing up at all, padding and positioning are off, etc). The NAIFA site (hi Marilyn) was a good example of trying to mix clean code, Cold Fusion, and Dreamweaver together.

    Dreamweaver visual compatibility is almost as time consuming as the IE Factor. In some cases you can hack up the CSS to give the editors different design (FrontPage 2002 cannot not see the @media screen command). But it’s still frustrating nonetheless. When you maintain your own site, then sure, stick with clean HTML and CSS. But the key is clients maintaining their own site — they almost always need a CMS or visual editor.

  85. Here’s a quick time for those who are not allowed to use a cms or dynamic content on their website, but are able and willing to use that given the chance: 1. Use a production server, unconnected to the internet - if security is a major risk. Put php, asp and anything you want on it. 2. Build the site 3. Use teleport pro or something similar that rips the whole site. 4. Upload to the web. With a ‘smart’ ftp that will update just the changed pages you’re wasting very little time.

    I’ve done something like this for a client and toghether with an automated upload sistem it made the updating really easy and saved them alot of time (and i little bonus on my side i didn’t mind :D).

    and sorry for the off-topic

  86. Thats possibly the most arrogant, elitist nonsense I’ve ever heard and given the usual standard of your posts, to be frank, I’m disappointed. I’ve used Studio MX 2004 since I started into web design just over a year ago. In that time I’ve discovered XHTML, CSS etc and found Dreamweaver an invaluable tool in not only developing sties but also learning the finer points.

    I don’t remember the opening pages of Eric Myer or Jeffrey Zeldman’s books warning me off or noting that using such tools would render me ‘not serious’ about web development.

    I mean, come on, where do you get off?

    I see you’re using movable type for this site - what, you didn’t develop this application all yourself with a text editor - didnt think so. Can’t be ‘serious’ about web development.

  87. November 1, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Damien: Oh come on now, I’ve explained a couple of times in the comments and updated the post to clarify:

    There’s nothing wrong with using Dreamweaver, it’s relying on the design mode of any WYSIWYG editor that will prevent you from learning HTML and CSS properly.

  88. I sort of feel insulted. Not all of us work in small design boutiques. I worked for two Fortune™ 500 corporations which resisted every attempt on my part to switch to a XHTML/CSS based design. Massive table layouts are still the norm, despite the best efforts of WaSP, Mozilla, ESPN, etc. Using DW for such work is just infinately easier.

    I’m fortunate enough to be working on a project now where I can design XHTML/CSS, and while I use the split code view and hand code the HTML (I learned in UNIX PICO in ‘95) all the extra tools speed up my day.

    On the other hand, I acknowledge the importance of being able to code by hand. The code produced by DW isn’t perfect, and you need to be able to understand it in order to fix it.

  89. I use Notepad++ and I have for months now. Before that I used a combination of Notepad2 and jEdit. I’d recommend any of the three to people looking for good text-editors. Notepad++ has tabbed windows, syntax highlighting and more; it’s my weapon of choice.

    jEdit was just too slow :(.

  90. I use PSPad, which is great for big projects and also has many of the features that a handcoder using Dream Weaver (DW) would need. Great syntax colouring, search/replace tools, FTP ability etc. Easy on system resources and very quick to startup.

    I consider WYSIWYG editing detremental to our profession, as it makes sloppy coding and quick fixes acceptable. Table layouts are still used because DW and other editors make it easier (I am in agreement that DW has got a lot better in recent revisions, but it’s still not nearly perfect) to develop sites quickly if you’re untrained.

    The less web developers push standards; the longer deprecated coding techniques will live. The longer these techniques are around; the longer companies such as Microsoft can get away with making sloppy proprietary browsers.

    I personally think - in a partly selfish way - that web design isn’t enough of a profession. When WYSIWYG tools are developed for people who don’t care to learn the markup, it degrades the importance of a truly skilled hand coder. It makes us harder to convince execs that they need a web developer rather than buying the latest version of DW and building a site themselves.

    This wouldn’t be an issue if WYSIWYG editors made adaptable, robust code - but the fact of the matter is, they don’t. When a site made in ‘design mode’ breaks and there isn’t a developer on hand who knows his stuff, then you’re in trouble. If you’ve employed someone who coded the site by hand, and therefore knows how it’s built from the ground up - chances are your site won’t break.

    Now, this is different if you’re developing a home site or a hobby site etc. You don’t necessarily have to cater for the mass market, and may not need to consider all the accessibility requirements, download times and code efficiency - but DW is a pricey tool and is aimed at corporate users, which personally, I think is wrong.

    You need to convince your boss that hand coding in XHTML and CSS will save time in the long run because the code will be more robust and efficient. You need to tell them it will save them money, because download times and bandwidth useage will be reduced, and you need to tell them that your site will be accessible to everyone if you build to standards.

    I can see no logical reason whatsoever to build using tables or a WYSIWYG editor unless you’re compensating for laziness, which unfortunately many developers seem to be doing.


  91. November 7, 2005 by Marc Luzietti

    Maybe if you coded in a corporate environment you’d change your tune. Corporations don’t care about our standards. They care about getting the job done. You can try and push, but at the end of the day, if you can’t force CSS to do what you want and tables will do what is required, guess what you’ll be using. Unless, that is, you’d rather continue doing $500 jobs you can pick up on guru.com. We still have to use hacks to get CSS to do what is easily done with tables, like rounded corners or columns that fill the height of the page.

    I find this anti-Dreamweaver mentality curious. It is not the tool’s fault that some people use it in a manner which you find problematic. The vast majority of extensions for Dreamweaver are to make it easier to create CSS layouts. Outside the corporate environment, I’ve been using DW for five years to do CSS-only websites. If you’d rather do things the hard way, be my guest, but I’d rather bike then run. I can code the slow way, but why?

  92. I think there’s a very real delineation taking place. Some corporations and web development units don’t produce websites, they produce Dreamweaver Sites. Such places prefer Dreamweaver developers, and no doubt, Dreamweaver developers prefer such places. I’ll even go so far as to suggest that Dreamweaver itself is gradually taking on the moniker of its own development “language” that traditional HTML coders cannot relate to any more than Dreamweaver coders can relate to traditional coders.

    “Do you write HTML?”

    “No, I write Dreamweaver”

    “Do you write Dreamweaver?”

    “No, I write HTML.”

    …is an increasingly valid exchange. Face it, it’s a complicated program and I’ve been talking with people who’ve never coded by hand who take all the pride in the world that they can build sophisticated websites using DW. It’s literally all about what they started using and what they got good at with practice.

    As for myself, I code by hand or in code view in DW. I simply can’t fanthom working with databases via DW like I do, but I find DW is good for all the reasons other hybrid users have commented on. When I code by hand I have a replacement app for nearly every component of DW, and they all run and work together very well. I can zoom out a website like lightning using them all together. My job likes it because it’s a Dreamweaver shop, yet as most websites originate with me in the first place, I don’t need to design in it. As another poster pointed out, WYSIWYG is only a component of this thing. It is designed to be used by either breed - my point about there being such things “as Dreamweaver Sites” not withstanding.

  93. November 11, 2005 by Fredrik Norlin

    I did install a WYSIWYG tool once… YUCK! It ruind my code. It wasn’t even near the standard any more. I don’t dare to use one again.

    I recommend EditPlus 2.2 for all you hand coders. It’s fast, got syntax highlighting, built in browser, FTP, possibility to work with templates a s o.

    Link: EditPlus

  94. November 13, 2005 by lokster

    I am sick of this “I am a good web designer because I use notepad”-things! There is nothing bad in using DW in design mode. Somethimes time is more important than the pretty code. And have you tried to remove a column from a big table? Or properly format 10 nested tables? How about doument with layers? It is hard to believe that you can imagine where sits every pixel of every element in your “pretty and clean” code;) If someone uses WISWIG it does not mean that he is worse web designer than you are. I think you live in the past, because before 10 years if you wanted to make webpage the only decision was to use notepad (or something like that). But now the situation is different. Get over it guys:) Yeah, I mostly use DW for formatting, not for real coding, most of my work (PHP) is done in UltraEdit. But when it comes to formatting - DW is my choice, and no one of you can convince me that if using notepad I will be more efficient.

    And finally - sorry for my bad english;)

  95. November 13, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    lokster: Well, if you are still using nested tables to create your layouts then I agree that something like Dreamweaver in design view is more efficient than hand coding. But why are you still using tables for layout? And “layers”? Now that’s a blast from the past.

    For websites built on modern, semantic and well-structured markup, the design view of a WYSIWYG tool can be useful for formatting content like data tables and to create headings and lists. But that’s about it.

  96. “And “layers”? Now that’s a blast from the past.”

    Well, not sure what you mean when you talk about layers this way. People hate tables aswell, though they still work. In my book a layer is a position: absolute; in regard of a position: relative, something which dhtml relies heavily on. I often find myself enjoying the use of layer-tecnique for creating sophisticated and complicated design features, which seems impossible todo in CSS sometimes. I mean - why should I use margins and padding, floats and clearing breaks and the full house, when it can be solved with a simple layer or two.

    Blast from the past? Maby, but I’m glad it’s there!

    Sure there might be bad uses for layers (Like creating the entire page in layers), just as for tables, or super-nested divs to compencate for a table aswell (point is - whats the difference really?), and this is probably what you are referring to so I should have no reason worrying you dislike layers.

  97. November 14, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Kim: I was thinking of the antique Netscape-specific layer element.

  98. November 14, 2005 by Marc Luzietti

    Why still use tables for layout? Two Fortune 500™ companies for whom I’ve contracted in the past four years have required it, that’s why.

    I’ve been experimenting with tables recently because CSS doesn’t do columns very well. Trying to make liquid columns in a complex design is exceedingly difficult to do with CSS alone (they just had to have rounded corners). Certain dynamic platforms, like WebLogic, aren’t very amenable to CSS either (or accessibility).

    While seperation of layout and content is an admirable goal, the current itterations of CSS aren’t yet able to do what I need them to do. Nor have I seen anything in CSS3 that leads me to believe that it’s forthcoming anytime soon.

    When a client hires me, I will use whichever solution, CSS, tables, or some chimera of both, best suits the situation. Pooh-poohing tables and Dreamweaver (or frankly anything for that matter) is just snobbery. It doesn’t get the job done, and that’s not professional.

  99. November 14, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)


    Being forced to work with CMS platforms that make it impossible to use CSS based layouts is a valid excuse.

    What’s the problem with making liquid columns with rounded corners in CSS though?

    While seperation of layout and content is an admirable goal, the current itterations of CSS aren’t yet able to do what I need them to do.

    What is it that CSS doesn’t let you do that tables do?

  100. I just couldn’t resist, this is number 100!

    Wow, this is a hot topic ;)

  101. November 15, 2005 by Marc Luzietti

    Roger, I have top a bottom sections of a column of fixed size, and I need the middle section to fill the space between the two, regardless of the size of the browser window or how much content there is. I think I can fake it with the faux columns hack, but that’s a hack.

  102. November 15, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Marc: Using tables for layout is also a hack.

    What you want is possible to do with CSS, without using any hacks. You don’t even have to wait for CSS3. You just need to use “display: table”, “display: table-row”, and “display: table-cell”. No, it doesn’t work in Internet Explorer (yet), but you can’t blame CSS for that.

  103. There is no other program that I know of that integrades syntax coloring for as many languages as this program does. It also has great built in reference books for css, html, javascript and more, which is pretty nice if you find that you are googling for info often.

    doh! Macromedia took over Allaire to get hold of one of the best editors I’ve had to chance to work with (and still do!): Homesite. So what you’re talking about is NOT Dreamweaver, but the acquired part of Homesite!

    So don’t come running with that - its not something Macromedia invented - and I dont know why I should buy such a rip-off if I can still be happy with my old Homesite 4.5.2 :P

    cu, w0lf.

  104. Hi, “hot” discussing people! :-)

    (Will that be comment No.104?;-)

    Yes, I use Dreamweaver (version 8, currently).

    Yes, I use it in code view - 99% of the time (1% of time I use it in design view to paste code from MS Word, then switch back to code view to re-check and clean the code).

    For preview: 1 CTRL+SHFT+U (auto-upload the file to the relevant folder on the server), 2 ALT+TAB to my FF browser, 3 hit F5 to refresh, done:)

    Yes, I use (now) extensively its built-in FTP possibilities (no need to open FTP client and to browse in the local dirs and remote dirs simultaneously, trying not to make a mistake when uploading or downloading files to the wrong dir).

    Yes, it’s search capabilities are very good (you can search in document, open documents, all WHOLE WEBSITE, search&replace, anything).

    Yes, it’s code coloring is quite nice, too.

    Yes, it’s code completion (now in version 8 it’s very inteliggent, it auto-closes open tags in the moment you type

  105. // continues, sorry, some code breaked:-(

    Yes, it’s code completion (now in version 8 it’s very inteliggent, it auto-closes open tags in a very smart way.

    Yes, it’s built-in validation against XHTML 1.0, HTML 4.01 standards comes handy, too (no need to open the W3C validator).

    Yes, it easyly allows you to handle files locally or remotely. Possibility of “cloaking” certain files or file extensions.

    Yes, Dreamweaver will re-open all files on which you were working last night at start-up (nice, no need to remember, what was the latest thing you were working exactly on, even if you were too tired already when closing apps and going to sleep!).

    And… Yes! It costs some $$$, and will eat a lot of RAM from your PC or Mac…

    …but every thing on Earth has it’s price.

    For me, it’s a good editor for (X)HTML, CSS, and other types of code (PHP, JS, etc.)

    I use it everyday and am I glad I have mastered some of its features.

    You can design in code view in ANY text based editor (even Notepad), but WHY doing it in Notepad, if you can do it in Dreamweaver, with most the features you’ll probably ever need (like built-in auto FTP, color coloring, code complete for xhtml & css, validation and search & replace) already integrated.

    Two thumbs for Macromedia and DW 8! :-)))

  106. December 7, 2005 by Adedeji Olowe

    I use Dreamweaver but only to enter content and see what my CSS/layouts look like.

    One of the skills that a HTML coder needs is the ability to visualize how the layout looks as he builds out the code.

    Frontpage’s rubbish code was enough to make me divorce WYSIWYG editors long time ago.

  107. no one of you can convince me that if using notepad I will be more efficient.

    Notepad isn’t more efficient; it doesn’t do anything.

    There are stereotypes for people who use DW and for people who hand “code” things—Usually Dreamweaver users are portrayed as being bad at HTML and CSS. Lots of WYSIWYG users use them properly, in ways such as managing content, making a quick mock-up site, managing tables, etcetera.

    On the other hand, People who hand “code” (for lack of a better word) things are portrayed as being very anal about everything, and sitting in front of a desk on a computer running Linux with a crappy text editor open trying to figure out if they’re on line thirty-four or forty-three. Notepad holds you back quite a bit and most people don’t realize that. Notepad holds back your abilities as much as if not more than a WYSIWYG editor.

    There are amazing text editors out there that aren’t notepadesque. Take a look at JEdit or Vim. Notepad 2 is a favourite of mine. The first two are ugly as hell and make you cry, but you get used to it and realize these are powerful text editors. Dreamweaver’s code view is another example of a powerful text editor. Hand “coding” doesn’t have to hold you back—far from it. But WYSIWYG (starting to get tired of writing that) does not give you the full power over your site that you should have.

    The worst part of WYSIWYG is when somebody uses it thinking that they never have to learn this website “code-thing”. They could have a very good looking site, but could never even know what language there document is in; They could be ripping up the backend of their site and be blind to it.

    When you know (X)HTML, using WYSIWYG all the time is stupid. You’ll just have to fix it later; it’s better to start it yourself. Using WYSIWYG when you know how to do it the right way is more work; To quote Scott Adams, it’s like “using a metal detector to check for unicorns in your underwear drawer”.

    Of course there are exceptions where WYSIWYG is fine to use (I personally wouldn’t use it there, but you can), like Mockups, Managing content, Managing Data Tables, etcetera (I don’t feel like thinking up more).

  108. Personally, I love Dreamweaver. I couldn’t use anything else for web developing. I’m mostly in code view, just like many others, but all the features in Dreamweaver are worth buying it.

    P.S. To anyone saying Dreamweaver’s expensive:

    If you are a student or teacher, shop at academicsuperstore.com. You save hundreds of dollars.

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