How Did You Get Started? A Look at the Best & Worst Web Design Tools
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Recently, I got a blast from the past when I read that Adobe’s Dreamweaver is making a comeback. I was a regular Dreamweaver user in my time, but since moving on (when I made the switch to Linux) I had more or less forgotten about its existence. This made me curious as to which other web authoring tools I have used throughout my career, so I decided to take a look.
A quick rummage in my bookshelf produced this gem — Frontpage 2000 Made Simple. Frontpage (now discontinued) was an editor by Microsoft and the tool I used to create my first ever web page. Its WYSIWYG approach made it appealing to novices (and in those days, most people were novices), as did its tight integration with Microsoft’s range of Office products. Unfortunately, it produced very messy and invalid code, with pages tending to be optimized for Internet Explorer. As soon as I realized that I was serious about web development, I knew it was time to move on.
When I landed my first job working with the web, I was given a copy of Dreamweaver. This was definitely a step up from Frontpage and was packed full of features I loved, such as a site-wide search and replace, code suggestion and a file manager. For a while, I was a happy and productive Dreamweaver user, until it dawned on me that it came with a tarnished reputation. The main gripe people had was that (like Frontpage) Dreamweaver packed a WYSIWYG editor which facilitated the production of invalid markup and bloated code. Although I was only using the WYSIWYG to enter the occasional bit of content, this still made me realize that code maintainability was a thing and more importantly, a thing I should care about.
I bid farewell to Dreamweaver when I made the switch from Windows to Linux. Saying goodbye was hard and I even went as far as to get Dreamweaver working with Wine (but luckily, soon realized the folly of this approach). While getting to grips with my new OS, I spent a while exploring some of the common Dreamweaver alternatives (namely Bluefish, KompoZer and NVU). These were all great tools in their own right, but sadly none of them quite hit the mark and I found it difficult to use them in a productive manner.