Thoughts on HTML editors and writing by hand

  • mrhodes
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'm fairly new to writing web pages and am in the process of trying to learn how to write proper HTML and such (many good link from these forums! Thanks for the info. I'm working on http://www.lisaexplains.com right now. I do feel a bit like Bob from "What about Bob?" *baby steps to the door, baby steps to the hall ........* :oops: )

Anyway, just curious on some feedback as to a good way to learn and make pages. I understand the idea that HTML editors such as frontpage are bad because they do all the work for you. This in turn keeps one from learning how to write the code properly. Eventually, when one chooses to include a feature in the site that is beyond the capabilities of the editor, one will be lost as to how to properly include the new code in the page.

However, it seems incredibly tedious to sit there and write the ENTIRE site out by hand. I cannot imagine writing an entire site by hand in notepad, especially a more complex site with lots of features.

How do most folks make good quality (code-wise) sites? Do they actually write the whole thing out by hand, or do they use a mix of html editors for simple stuff and code by hand for the more complex features? I've played with HTML Kit a bit, and that seems like an interesting idea. Not quite a WYSIWYG editor, but it does automate some of the tags to remove a bit of the redundant typing. Just curious as to what approach most folks take to creating their sites.

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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • b_heyer
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Post 3+ Months Ago

No site is too big for Kwrite...or notepad!

I use all text based because I like to have the code formatted EXACTLY how I like it, so I can go back and edit with ease. I tried HTML kit but got scared away by the auto complete (didn't even think to turn it off as ATNO pointed out afterwards). I'd say you could use that if you wanted to. But really no page is too big that it can't work with a text editor.

Syntax highlighting is nice though.
  • mrhodes
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Post 3+ Months Ago

b_heyer wrote:
But really no page is too big that it can't work with a text editor.

Syntax highlighting is nice though.


I'm not really referring so much to the pages working as much as to the sheer volume of typing that seems to go into writing a complete page. Just having to constantly type < and > slows down my typing so much that it seems there might be a method out there to automate the mundane portions of writing a page while still allowing the control of writing HTML by hand.

And I do agree, syntax highlighting is nice. Makes it alot easier to find stuff on the page when you're trying to go through and edit the page.

Mark
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I used to use Notepad , but now use HTML kit exclusively. Copy & paste helps. I know a lot of "Pro's" use Frontpage and Dreamweaver, but I think you'll find many of us here enjoy writing pure code. I know one exception is Musik. She uses Frontpage and does it very well. She may be able to give you some pointers.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

mrhodes wrote:
I understand the idea that HTML editors such as frontpage are bad because they do all the work for you.

However, it seems incredibly tedious to sit there and write the ENTIRE site out by hand. I cannot imagine writing an entire site by hand in notepad, especially a more complex site with lots of features.


Using a HTML editor to design a site is no different to using Micro$oft Word to write a letter. It's all about presentation. You can also code RTF format documents by hand, adding in all the coding for you for font size & formatting, positioning, etc. But nobody would think less of you for using Micro$oft Word to write that document.

For a static site with half a dozen pages, I don't see any problem with creating your site in FrontPage or some other HTML editor.

As far as doing it all by hand, the sites that have a lot of features are usually database driven, like my site. Each page you see is not all created "by hand". There are basic templates for different sections of the page, but the script calls those templates to complete the whole, so it's not as tedious as you might think sometimes.

Reusing template code like this also helps to keep all your content looking uniform and like it's all part of the same site.

I still use FrontPage for creating quick CSS tags, just by editing the styles, and I still use it for making basic table layouts (selecting a bunch of cells, right click, merge/split/properties/etc.), and seeing how it's going to look when you've got an image chopped up into 50 smaller images to make the header, is so much easier & quicker doing it in FrontPage than trying to figure out all the columns, etc. manually.

Then I just go to source view, copy+paste the code into my document in EditPlus, and tweak it manually.

EditPlus is great, as it has a built-in FTP client. You can edit files stored on a remote site without having to download them, save them locally, upload them, and mess around in half a dozen programs; It's just open, edit, save, it's done, live on your site - IMHO essential for testing server-side scripts like thos written in PHP. :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well stated Axe....
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thank you ATNO, and I'll be completely honest, I'm not ashamed to say it, regardless of how many people badmouth it, I think FrontPage is probably the best product Micro$oft has ever written.

On the whole it might produce badly-coded, bandwidth-hogging sites if you're attempting to create a huge static site with FrontPage alone, but it has saved me SO much time over the past few years developing sites for clients (Ever since "FrontPage Express" was distributed as a freeby with Internet Explorer), that I can't imagine not having it any more.

For doing quick snippets to then tweak manually in a text editor, nothing beats FrontPage for me. But then, maybe I've just been using it so long that I've gotten used to getting some of the tasks done quicker in FP over using other methods, and I'm sure some of those things are quicker for other people using their own methods rather than FP, so it's all a matter of what works best for each individual. But, like I said, I can't imagine working without it any more.
  • ATNO/TW
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Axe wrote:
I think FrontPage is probably the best product Micro$oft has ever written.



I'm not sure about that. I think 2003 Server might stand up to that challenge. I'll let you know in a couple months.
  • b_heyer
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Post 3+ Months Ago

mrhodes wrote:
b_heyer wrote:
But really no page is too big that it can't work with a text editor.

Syntax highlighting is nice though.


I'm not really referring so much to the pages working as much as to the sheer volume of typing that seems to go into writing a complete page. Just having to constantly type < and > slows down my typing so much that it seems there might be a method out there to automate the mundane portions of writing a page while still allowing the control of writing HTML by hand.

And I do agree, syntax highlighting is nice. Makes it alot easier to find stuff on the page when you're trying to go through and edit the page.

Mark



Nor was I, you get used to typing out < > over and over again. It is actually one of the few symbols on the keyboard I can touch type! :-P
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Post 3+ Months Ago

i've never written out a single page of html code by hand and I
think i do pretty good. Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of the
code and can fix most things from the code itself, but I'm just
more comfortable sitting in front of the page itself rather than
all that code when designing.

That being the key word for me: designing. Hard for me to
break that concept looking at all code since I'm a visual person.

I use Dreamweaver MX exclusively now, although I used to use
Frontpage all the time as well.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think it all really depends on what you're trying to do. My goal is to try and be a web designer, not a coder. I'll probably have to kick myself and learn a little asp and php one of these days, but as of now I’m just twiddling in Photoshop.

This is where programs like dreamweaver come in handy. I spend more time thinking about design, rather then coding. I decided to take some small css/javascript class that was only a few weeks long. It took a hellishly long time to code the website by hand because I still wanted it to look good. I even used a set I had played around dreamweaver before. It was a simple design, but there were still lots of code to write

By Hand time: 1 week (had to keep looking up stuff, I would say someone who knew what they were doing could do in it..perhaps and in two hours??

Dreamweaver: 20 Min.

By hand the clode is much simpler and cleaner. Overall if you want to make your own webpages you should do it by hand, if you have the time... but it wouldn’t hurt to try and learn one of the programs available just to get a little more well-rounded. My pages are more graphic-orientated then anything else, so I’ll probably keep using dreamweaver while on the side (slowly..heh) learn how to code my webpages by hand.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

OK...I'll take a bite at this. I have Dreamweaver, but very seldom use it, because I just completely can't get the WYSIWYG side of it to work for me. But I'll make an effort later this month to take a shot at designing a few pages in Dreamweaver just using WYSIWYG. I'm sure I'll cringe when I see the code, but I'd like to learn that side of it. I agree coding by hand takes more time, but to me it's more satisfying and easier to fix, because I know what I wrote. But there have been times when it would be nice to produce a page or two quickly. I will say that I do like how easy it is to create FLASH buttons in Dreamweaver, but I've never used them because they seem to take forever to load.
  • lilstorm
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I am fairly new to it all, but I prefer just using notepad. Maybe because I learned using notepad, I don't know.

I have dreamweaver, but I can not figure it out lol. I can be a total ditz most of the time and I am too impatient and everytime I have tried I end up getting myself even more confused. lol

Plus with copy and paste I don't actually end up writing the same thing 50 million times, ofcourse I like to save blank pages and stuff with just a little bit of code so I can just copy and paste it all.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

ATNO/TW wrote:
but to me it's more satisfying and easier to fix

this argument to me isn't even .0001 of % of my satisfaction in creating
a web page. The code is irrelevant to me in most cases, so it never
factors in to the overall process, in terms of "builder's satisfaction."

Don't take that wrong, I have plenty of respect for those that enjoy doing
code by hand, and the code itself...it's just not for me.

And that really is what it comes down to anyway -- preferences and opinions.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Coding straight HTML I gotta agree with Unflux... but with actual web scripting languages, like PHP, JavaScript, etc. I like coding it by hand, learning more about how the language works, and satisfaction when the code works - rather than using pre-built software, or having something generate the code for you.

But even using pre-built scripts (Like I do with PostNuke on my site), and hacking it to work exactly the way you want can also give the same sense of achievement.
  • b_heyer
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I am sure this goes back to what kind of learner you are. But then it wouldn't make sense for me, since I am definatly a visual learner (methinks), and I mark-up (is that the proper term?) completely in a text based environment. I think I actually prefer the challenge of doing it, plus that way I can include snippets of php etc, without the program going haywire and not being able to display it.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It wouldn't really make sense for me either. :-/ I am definitely a visual learner, but I have never used a WYSIWYG program. Also, in my QBASIC course we are supposed to create a flowchart before writing the program. I always write the program first because I have too much trouble with the flowchart.
  • b_heyer
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Maybe we all use the reverse hemisphere when we code :-P
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I like to code everything by hand. I use Dreamweaver, but the code part of it only. I've never used the WYSIWYG part of it. I think hand coding it, like some others have said, will help you get a better grasp of the language and how everything works. After that, it's up to you.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I use Dreamweaver MX. its definately the way to go.. I can edit codes by hand.. but its so much easier seeing both the code and the page view. I dont think it slows my learning process for HTML... but helps it.. .when I first started I didnt know very much html at all and after using dreamweaver and seeing both the code and what it does... Ive learnt alof of new stuff that I wouldnt know by heart today without it. so if you want to use an html editor you would want to go with Dreamweaver. I dont know what I would do without it.. :D
  • conorific
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I always wrote a page by hand and then used PHP's include function so that I woukd be writing one page and then I could change it whenever I wished, I would be changing 4 files: header, footer, graphic(s) and stylesheet. Works great.

To actually write the stuff, I use Dreamweaver for positioning/etc. and I finetune it by hand.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

yeah, PHP's include function is great, even if you're not doing a huge dynamically database driven site, calling a standard header & footer file with include(); really saves so much time & hassle.

Imagine 6 months down the road, your site has 50-75 pages, and you decide "Hey, I'll add a forum". With a standard header & footer, you only need to edit a single file to add that link to the entire site. If your layout is individually coded into each page, that's a lot of time to edit all those and add the extra link!
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Post 3+ Months Ago

It's super annoying to do if you already have 25 or 50 pages, but once you do it, you'll be so glad. I know nothing about PHP, but anyone can do it...if anyone needs help or wants to know how, httP://xentrik.net has great tutorials.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Im with conorific. I use dreamweaver to get everything aligned but I write all the fine details by hand. I also use the php include function so its always alot easier to write pages. that way you can write just the layout page and then use php include so I dont have to write out the layout on every page. I can just write the content in either html or text format. I love php... it makes everything so much easier
  • 3dmk
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Back in the day I used to do tech support for front page for ms here in tucson. For smaller to mid ranged sites, it seemed ok, but the large the site was, the more dependant on fp it became, and the more prone it was to issues. I have been working with Dreamweaver exclusivly since 3 and am now resting on MX.

When it comes to project management and handling 50+ sites, it can't be beat. the ablity to move through sites on the fly, make changes, and move on is great. Most of the developers I know use it, but each uses it differently. I refuse to use library items and templates because it is easier to pupicate using php/asp includes, and also saves in updates. Much easier to upload one header and footer than all 150+ pages of a site when someone wants to change a column. ;)

Also, I know other apps use color coding, so I am glad DW MX does the same. I handle sites in both php and asp, and dw adjust accordingly.

As for handling a whole site in notepad, I can see that being done. clearchannel.com was completly dynamic when I had it, and each page consisted of the following:

Code: [ Select ]
<?php

include 'core.php';
// Nav Options
$nav = 1;
$subnav = 2;

include $header;

content();

include $footer;

?>
  1. <?php
  2. include 'core.php';
  3. // Nav Options
  4. $nav = 1;
  5. $subnav = 2;
  6. include $header;
  7. content();
  8. include $footer;
  9. ?>


The content was all stored in a database. ;)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

dreamweaver mx seems to be getting quite a bit of positive press in this thread. what is it , IYHO, about this particular editor that makes it superior to other programs, such as Front Page or Page Mill (is it Go Live now?)

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Post 3+ Months Ago

I'll add my spiff here.

I absolutly loath WYSIWYG or any editor of that sort. I completely hate them. I am all against them. Yes I know they do things for you, but I hate them. They add code you don't need, and screw your webpages up.(at least for me)

I only use Notepad. Nothing else. Notepad is my lover.

MSFrontpage. This is why I hate WYSIWYG editors. Nuff said.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

To base your opinion on wysiwyg editors on experiences with FrontPage is scary but common. I can totally understand why you would not like them being as frontpage is ev0l and helps to promote bloated code.

But I will defend my lover, dreamweaver, with as much passion, if not more so, than your devotion to notepad. ;) I am not sure what level of development you have attained, but in my position, I rely on the project management abilities of dreamweaver to help keep the company i work for competitive in the web design world. We do not have the time to tinker with writing tables from scratch, as our clients are very demanding, and rightfully so with as much as we are being paid now.

Also, when it comes to adding fluff code, dreamweaver does a good job of writing code for you, as long as you make sure your preferences are configured correctly. I seldom have to go back and make changes to my code to ensure compliance on other browser type for both the mac and pc. If I do, it usually involves elements that are hard coded anyway, since I do not rely on the prebuilt script functions dw provides.

Not that this is the case in your situation, but most of the people i talk to about this here subject like to throw the usage of notepad out in a thread to apear like they are l33ter than people like myself who use an application to handle the design parts of my sites, but when it gets down to configuring stuff, vi owns notepad anyday and hapens to be my text editor of choice. ;)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I use DreamweaverMX when I need it and programmer's file editor when I don't. PFE has a bunch of features that Notepad lacks, although PFE is a bit old and I really need to start looking for a replacement as it's no longer in development I think.

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