Efficiency with editors

Alastair’s recommendation to learn (X)HTML by hand is a good one for the nuts and bolts, but I’m wondering whether an editor like Dreamweaver could still be more useful than Notepad.

When I do code sites – rarely – I still hand code, but rather than Notepad, Pagemill etc I actually lurk within Dreamweaver. Blasphemy! You cry … well no. Remember I’m actually within the code view, but Dreamweaver gives me a bunch of options to make things more efficient, such as …

  1. Auto-closing of my tags when using XHTML
  2. Lovely colour-coding of different tag types to try and save my vision
  3. Validation to XHTML 1.0 via SHIFT-F6 (ok sometimes misses things)
  4. A check of my work … just click the ‘Design’ view. Not quite as good as the browser, but pretty close in CS3.
  5. Easy FTP – just right-click and hit ‘put’ …

So yep, not quite perfect in terms of browser compatibility and code, but still manages to save a load of time.

6 thoughts on “Efficiency with editors

  • August 21, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Interesting you say this because I was talking to a couple of the developers at my work (DET) and they thought that working within the code view of dreamweaver would be the way to go. They could sort of understand why hand coding would be good to really appreciate it as a craft but thought that ultimately it would be long and painful. Especially for CSS. I’m now wondering if I’ll be able to work from scratch knowing there are tools that could help me, but then again I’m not one to go against what teachers tell me to do 😉

  • August 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Hey Ian,

    That’s no problem to use DW’s code view if it provides all those niceties. What you want to avoid is use the what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) part. Well, nothing prevents you from using it, but in the long run you’ll realise that it’s more trouble than anything else.
    As for browser compatibility, as long as it looks as you’d expect in Firefox, then you’re on the right tracks, and it’ll be easier to tweak it to make it work on other browsers.

    Keep up the good work 😉


  • August 21, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    By the way, did you notice that the post and comment form appear twice on the page?

  • August 21, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Hi Julien,

    Would be interested to know if your thoughts on WYSIWYG are based on the latest (CS3) version of Dreamweaver? I’ve never used DW for CSS (I hand code) but I think in the last couple of versions they’ve ironed out any problems they’ve had with XHTML … of course I still check the code to make sure, it’s just easier sometimes to type without feeling like I’m in The Matrix ;o)

    Re: the double post – definitely noticed! Not sure what’s causing it – I actually have some problems with Indian spammers having hacked into my WordPress/SQL at the moment, might ask your advice next class if you want to have a look.

  • August 22, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Hello again,

    To be honest, I haven’t tried DW for years. I bet they’re now much better with compatibility issues and standard compliance. But the reason why web developers generally prefer hand-coded HTML, it’s because it gives full control over the code. WYSIWYG tools often insert unnecessary tags and make the code more complex that it needs to be, which can lead to compatibility issues or layout breakage down the track. WYSIWYG tools give you instant satisfaction, but in the long term — especially as you’ll get better in HTML/CCS/etc — you might want to ditch those fancy tools altogether. Code completion, code highlighting and all the stuff provided in DW’s code-view are great though, as they increase your productivity. All you want is keep full control over what’s going on in the code.

    Re the bug you’re having on this page, I can have a look at next class if you like.

  • August 22, 2008 at 1:47 am

    You’ve hit the core issue – productivity! I work in a large corporate which makes this imperative. But as I noted, I think for HTML at least you’ll find CS3 behaves these days. Definitely have the experience you mention though – when I started my current role 3 years ago I had to use FrontPage .. hideous!

    Thanks on the bug offer Julien – took a look last night and still nothing obvious, I’ll give you a yell.

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