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  1. #1
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    Moving on from Dreamweaver

    Hi,

    I've been using Dreamweaver to get started in learning web design. It's been a good way to get the hang of things and I wrote most of my own code, but I'd like to transition to software that will help me to better learn the basics without the program being a crutch.

    What are the pro's and con's on different programs? For example I think I have Text Wrangler but is BBEdit (I'm Mac based) or some other program a better way to go? I keep seeing Firebug mentioned. Is it used for web design or do you use it in addition to a text editor? Is it a good tool?

    In Dreamweaver you can use a split screen so you can see--for the most--what you're doing. How do you do this when you're using a text editor? I'm a visual person and really need to see what I'm doing!

    Thanks for any suggestions/info!
    Laura

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    It's easy... just flip to the code tab. =p

    I have been (and still do) use Dreamweaver for years. However, I always hand-code EVERYTHING. I use Dreamweaver for handy features like automatic uploading on save.

    I've also used Komodo Edit which works quite well (and is cross-platform).

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    Quote Originally Posted by samanime View Post
    It's easy... just flip to the code tab. =p

    I have been (and still do) use Dreamweaver for years. However, I always hand-code EVERYTHING. I use Dreamweaver for handy features like automatic uploading on save.

    I've also used Komodo Edit which works quite well (and is cross-platform).
    It's good to know Dreamweaver can be useful even after many years of experience! I do use the code window for writing both the html and CSS so I've gotten the hang of that. I guess I just like the idea of knowing how to work without Dreamweaver.

    Thanks for the Komodo Edit suggestion.

    Laura

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    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy TheRaptor's Avatar
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    Try Expresso! It allows you to jump back and forth between writing code and viewing the result easily. I don't think TextWrangler and BBEdit offer a preview.

    Firebug is an essential tool for any web designer. While its not a replacement for a good code editor, it allows you to poke around the source of a document and see how things are run, debug code and write HTML and CSS in real time.

    By the way: I started coding with Dreamweaver but found its interface to be too clunky and cluttered for my tastes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRaptor View Post
    Try Expresso! It allows you to jump back and forth between writing code and viewing the result easily. I don't think TextWrangler and BBEdit offer a preview.

    Firebug is an essential tool for any web designer. While its not a replacement for a good code editor, it allows you to poke around the source of a document and see how things are run, debug code and write HTML and CSS in real time.

    By the way: I started coding with Dreamweaver but found its interface to be too clunky and cluttered for my tastes.
    Thanks!

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    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    Yeah, try spending more time in the code view than the "normal" view and you'll make the switch pretty easy. I've done this too years ago and, while Dreamweaver was excellent for me to understand how this all works, leaving it behind was the best thing I could do as a web designer

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    Quote Originally Posted by dojo View Post
    Yeah, try spending more time in the code view than the "normal" view and you'll make the switch pretty easy. I've done this too years ago and, while Dreamweaver was excellent for me to understand how this all works, leaving it behind was the best thing I could do as a web designer
    Thanks for the encouragement! I've been playing around with Text Wrangler a bit and can see where it plus the browser of your choice does the job.

    Laura

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    I have fallen in love with Coda. The only thing I dont like about it is that you might want to tweak the color coding (
    ditto.
    However if you want a lighter alternative and are ready to go to pure code... I have really begun to like Coda. ( am on a Mac too!!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by dresden_phoenix View Post
    ditto.
    However if you want a lighter alternative and are ready to go to pure code... I have really begun to like Coda. ( am on a Mac too!!)
    Thanks, I haven't heard of that one!

    Laura

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    I Use MODx kenquad's Avatar
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    I use jEdit for almost everything - it has lots of plugins to do specific tasks like color mixing and FTP, so you can customize it the way you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by LauraFig View Post
    I keep seeing Firebug mentioned. Is it used for web design or do you use it in addition to a text editor? Is it a good tool?
    Firebug is a Firefox addon that you MUST have (unless you're using Chrome's built-in equivalent, Developer Tools) regardless of what editor/IDE you're using. Among other things, it allows you to view exactly what CSS styles are being applied to each element, from what line in what CSS file. Invaluable.

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    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    I'll add another vote for Komodo Edit. It's a good tool, as is Notepad++.

    Obviously, if you ever decide to join the magical world of .NET you'll want to have a go in Visual Studio. The express versions are free, and are fantastic tools for ASP.NET development.

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    I Use MODx kenquad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Obviously, if you ever decide to join the magical world of .NET you'll want to have a go in Visual Studio. The express versions are free, and are fantastic tools for ASP.NET development.
    Then again, you could decide to enter the still-MORE-magical world of PHP , and use the PHP version of the open-source Netbeans - which, incidentally, isn't a bad choice for your primary web IDE either.

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Netbeans is Java based, runs sloooowly :/

    I use PhpEd, no idea if there is a mac version, but it is excellent on Windows. I've used all sorts from notepad, to Textpad, to Notepad++, to Zend Editor, to Eclipse (awful), but then I found PhpEd and I haven't looked back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Obviously, if you ever decide to join the magical world of .NET you'll want to have a go in Visual Studio. The express versions are free, and are fantastic tools for ASP.NET development.
    Magical? I always thought of it as "special"

    In the same way some Olympics are... Special.

    Honestly if you're on a Mac and looking for anything MORE that Text Wrangler, you're probably over-reliant on "tools" and looking to take shortcuts that will bite you in the backside in the long term. BBedit is ok, once you cut it down by disabling all the "aids" that get in the way of actually working with the code; which is to say neutering it down into being... text wrangler.

    Though when I'm stuck on a Quackintosh, I usually install fusion or virtualBox in seamless and run the windows based Crimson editor, just because it's one of the few that lets me turn the tabbed bull OFF... but as a multiple display user when it comes to code editors, tabs are a step BACKWARDS in functionality since they prevent me from seeing three or four windows of code side-by-side; like say my Markup, CSS and Javascript? (Besides, if you're doing web dev work on a Mac you should have either fusion or virtualbox installed ANYWAYS)

    As to the other stuff mentioned so far, uselessly convoluted and needlessly bloated nonsense.

    But then, I'm the guy who finds code completion an annoyance I spend more time correcting than having help, and finds the acid trip of color highlighting an illegible headache inducing mess. (which ends up broken on 99% of my PHP code anyways).

    It's like all this other pointless crap -- code folding, whitespace stripping -- it's all a bunch of nonsense that if you need, there's probably something fundamentally flawed with your code.

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    I Use MODx kenquad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    Netbeans is Java based, runs sloooowly
    Um, we're talking to somebody who's used to running Dreamweaver...

    It's true that Netbeans - and for that matter jEdit - is Java based and will never run quite as fast as a natively compiled program (the upside being that Java programs run on all major OS's, including Mac, with no special version). However, on a fast current laptop, I find the speed of both programs acceptable. The key, for me, is not to bother opening the IDE if all I need is an editor to change a few lines of CSS or something - then I use jEdit.

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    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    Magical? I always thought of it as "special"

    In the same way some Olympics are... Special.
    Out of interest, when was the last time you used Visual Studio?

    I can say with some certainty that VS2010 is the best IDE I've used for any language, hands down. For me, VS2010 and Resharper is coding perfection.

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    It's like all this other pointless crap -- code folding, whitespace stripping -- it's all a bunch of nonsense that if you need, there's probably something fundamentally flawed with your code.
    What an utterly ridiculous statement to make. Just because you haven't found a use for them yet doesn't mean the people who have write bad code.

    That quote is almost laughable it's so misguided!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormrider View Post
    What an utterly ridiculous statement to make. Just because you haven't found a use for them yet doesn't mean the people who have write bad code.

    That quote is almost laughable it's so misguided!
    No, it's been in my experience a pretty fair assessment. By hiding bits of code while working on it you're gonna miss all sorts of stuff; It's like the people who slap all their CSS on one line, then wonder why something isn't working when they declare the same property in three different places...

    While whitespace stripping is usually used for nothing more than covering up bad code in a pathetic attempt to save bandwidth by people with CtC Ratios on markup ALONE in excess of 10:1

    That's "code to content" for those not familiar with it. Usually a pretty good gauge as unless you're knee deep in forms with really REALLY large (and as such rubbish) selects, there is usually little reason for a page with more than 3k of content to break the 3:1 mark. By the time you hit 20k of content 2:1 is about the upper limit and it should go DOWN the more content there is. (unless you're slapping tags on EVERYTHING for no good reason)

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    I personally hate code hiding (because I will miss it like DS said). However, there are plenty of other features that I really like about Visual Studio. I also agree that they're the best out there (and have been since at least 2008 and 2010).

    Saying that, I have hung-ups about using ASP.NET (mostly that it let's people be lazy, but that's just me). However, if I'm doing anything in C++ or C#, I use Visual Studio.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    Out of interest, when was the last time you used Visual Studio?

    I can say with some certainty that VS2010 is the best IDE I've used for any language, hands down. For me, VS2010 and Resharper is coding perfection.
    My objection more stems from the use of .net as a web technology... or Visual ANYTHING for that matter in application development as it's just as big a rot as WYSIWYG's for web development.

    It's funny for me, a die hard Borland fan to HATE modern IDE's, but really compared to a flat text editor that lets me open multiple windows without all those stupid toolbars, sidebars and extra crap all over the place -- It just gets in my way. Just give me the code and let me work with it, without all that extra GARBAGE.

    But I do have a odd mental block where I cannot grasp the most basic of Visual programming concepts. I can hand assemble machine language, I can handle SDL or OpenGL like they were second nature -- but I can't grasp things like the VCL, much less the GUI/WYSIWYGS associated with them. I want to SEE in the CODE where the elements are made, not have them stuffed off in some random resource file christmas only knows where.

    Of course, given the ABSOLUTE DISASTER every ASP or .NET language seems to output for HTML, especially if you use it's built in form nonsense -- I'm not sure I WANT to grasp it.

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    I think .NET definitely has potential to do good code (compiled vs. interpreted, compiled always wins).

    However, I think most (though not all) leave it up to ASP or .NET to generate their HTML for them... which ends up being as good as any other WYSIWYG editor ("visual" HTML editing will likely never reach the level of hand-coding).

    If a developer took the time to hand code their HTML and just used .NET for the back-end, it could be very well done.

  22. #22
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    My objection more stems from the use of .net as a web technology... or Visual ANYTHING for that matter in application development as it's just as big a rot as WYSIWYG's for web development.
    So, you've not tried C# before? How about F#?

    This is where .NET comes into its own. Since its inception it's been the MS equivalent of the Java platform, except Microsoft have done a fantastic job on building the language and the platform. ASP.NET has become probably one of the strongest choices for medium-to-large scale websites, and part of that thanks comes down to Visual Studio.

    On that subject, as so much of web development is now framework based, why would you object to .NET when compared to either Java, Django, Zend or any other framework? If anything, I think .NET has led the way in regards to MVC, and Razor will probably add more .NET users.

    The old days of classic ASP and dragging items onto a blank canvas are long gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    It's funny for me, a die hard Borland fan to HATE modern IDE's, but really compared to a flat text editor that lets me open multiple windows without all those stupid toolbars, sidebars and extra crap all over the place -- It just gets in my way. Just give me the code and let me work with it, without all that extra GARBAGE.
    The first time you run VS2010 after installing (including the free express versions) you're given the option to choose your workflow. If you go for the straight code option all you get is the basic toolbar at the top, an output/error window and your code with intellisense. It's far tidier than the likes of Eclipse or NetBeans.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    Of course, given the ABSOLUTE DISASTER every ASP or .NET language seems to output for HTML, especially if you use it's built in form nonsense -- I'm not sure I WANT to grasp it.
    ASP.NET outputs crappy code if you're a crappy developer. Nowadays the preferred method of building an ASP.NET site is through MVC and all code written is your own. Hell, there are even a number of different views, such as Razor. When you top that off with C#'s support for lambda expressions, code contracts and the rest of the great stuff offered by the .NET runtime it's become a great object-oriented language that borrows the best things from the world of functional programming.

    Admittedly, back in the classic ASP days spaghetti code was everywhere, but now outside of Python I cannot think of a single language I would rather use, and to be honest it doesn't surprise me that the .NET framework languages are now the second strongest programming language in use in industry (behind Java).

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ULTiMATE View Post
    So, you've not tried C# before? How about F#?
    Edit in crimson, from the command line:

    C:\work\demo>csc test.cs

    Actually gives me more useful debugging output too... though I do miss the 'take me right to the line that won't compile' -- but being a c dialect, it lets WAY too much broken code actually compile anyways, so it's not like that's a great big help.

    I'm sure all the linux dev's out there can relate. Heck, it even works from WINE... something visual studio itself won't do.

    I like C# -- It's the first time I think anyone actually tried to take C, objects, and combine them in a sensible manner (instead of C++'s "slap them in there any old way, who cares if it works) -- I just find visual studio annoying as hell and it frankly gets in my way too much, sucks down WAY too many resources, and the whole 'drag and drop' thing loses me completely.

    It's like the transition from TPW 1.5/BP7 to Delphi 1.0 -- they "lost me"... I could use OWL and resource workshop, I still can't figure out how the devil Delphi is supposed to actually work... Same for FPC/Lazarus. I can use FPC just fine, mix in lazarus and, well... Makes no sense and looks like MORE work... sloppy disorganized work at that.

    I should be able to get it -- I mean, again, I can hand assemble machine language and even get you a opcode count accounting for BUI vs. EU overlaps.... But there's something about visual programming -- It contradicts EVERYTHING I know about clean coding practices and how programs should be built... which I suspect is why most of the people writing good software in them treat it the EXACT same way the handful of people making decent sites with Dreamweaver do (So... Paul O'b and ... uhm... well there's... ok, so Paul O'B) -- use the code editor, maybe a few of the project management features -- and ignore the rest.

    At which point, use a simple resource lean flat text editor and the command line compiler. Why not, it works for GCC?

    In other words the exact same thing as DW, by the time you know enough to use it, you should have NO legitimate reason to continue doing so... get a flat text editor and test in the actual browser and actual environments. But of course, that would make WAY too much sense for most people. ...and listen instead to their science teachers.

    Just strikes me as another sleazy shortcut... file it alongside Visual Basic for all the good it does.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy Stormrider's Avatar
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    Sorry DS, still a complete generalisation. They are great tools if you know how to use them properly. Again, just because you haven't figured out how to do that, or prefer to be less productive by not using what's available to you, doesn't mean the people who do use these tools can't code. I use code completion, whitespace stripping (only from the end of a line), code folding (brilliant when debugging problems by hiding bits temporarily that are irrelevant to code, or in an OOP setting so you can just expand the function you are working on and see clearly without extra stuff surrounding it). Your own website looks like it has used some sort of whitespace stripping incidentally in that you open one HTML tag on the same line as you closed the previous one. Very odd, never seen such strange formatting!

  25. #25
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    Actually gives me more useful debugging output too... though I do miss the 'take me right to the line that won't compile' -- but being a c dialect, it lets WAY too much broken code actually compile anyways, so it's not like that's a great big help.
    I'm not sure if I would call C# a "dialect of C" and there is no direct relationship between the two. If I were being pedantic I'd argue that if true then the vast majority of languages are dialects. If C# is close to any language it was Java at around version 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    I'm sure all the linux dev's out there can relate. Heck, it even works from WINE... something visual studio itself won't do.
    Give Mono a try. I was sceptical about it at first, but Microsoft has helped out tremendously and a few weeks ago I managed to get an internal C# application working on an old Fedora box with next to no changes needed at all.

    To my knowledge, there are even ASP.NET sites out there in the wild running from Linux web servers.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    I like C# -- It's the first time I think anyone actually tried to take C, objects, and combine them in a sensible manner (instead of C++'s "slap them in there any old way, who cares if it works) -- I just find visual studio annoying as hell and it frankly gets in my way too much, sucks down WAY too many resources, and the whole 'drag and drop' thing loses me completely.
    I suppose there is a drag-and-drop element when building visual applications (i.e. a Windows Application with a form), but I'd say that's a huge time-saver in those instances, and it's the route that many modern languages like Java and Python have taken in regards to desktop development. In regards to the topic at hand (Web Development) I don't think there's a single instance of drag and drop coding anywhere in the language.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    I should be able to get it -- I mean, again, I can hand assemble machine language and even get you a opcode count accounting for BUI vs. EU overlaps.... But there's something about visual programming -- It contradicts EVERYTHING I know about clean coding practices and how programs should be built... which I suspect is why most of the people writing good software in them treat it the EXACT same way the handful of people making decent sites with Dreamweaver do (So... Paul O'b and ... uhm... well there's... ok, so Paul O'B) -- use the code editor, maybe a few of the project management features -- and ignore the rest.
    Possibly. I've always liked "the UNIX philosophy", and to be honest I don't think that any of the modern languages particularly break that. The reason I like C# so much is because of the clean code you can produce with it. Here's a small example of what I mean.

    Code:
    protected bool AllEmpty(params string[] values) {
        return values.All(value => value.Equals(""));
    }
    There's very little fluff in this code and even a non-technical manager can look in at this code, think for a few seconds and know exactly what it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    In other words the exact same thing as DW, by the time you know enough to use it, you should have NO legitimate reason to continue doing so... get a flat text editor and test in the actual browser and actual environments. But of course, that would make WAY too much sense for most people. ...and listen instead to their science teachers.
    I think it's the culture more than anything really. Nowadays there tends to be an even split between text editors that help out (code completion, syntax highlighting, etc) and IDE's. Naturally, for a language like C# you'll want an IDE to save time (write code, F5, done).


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