Do Professionals Really Code Everything By Hand?

I’ve noticed while searching for contract, freelance web projects through various sites and services that a lot of ads are looking for hand-coders only, No Dreamweaver, GoLive or other web authoring tools.

Do professionals really code everything by hand? I don’t see how professional that is. I completely agree that a professional web designer should have the capacity to know and understand HTML, at least, like the back of their hand. But using tools like Dreamweaver is extremely efficient in an industry where time can be an important factor.

Robust programs like DW can create a myriad of things almost instantly. Yes, you may need to clean up some code or modify something here or there, and a professional could do that. But I don’t see how coding everything by hand is being a professional in this day and age. Is it just a mental thing of knowing you’re doing it all from scratch by hand?

I’ve worked for a major design firm with a few high profile sites dealing with extraordinary amounts of data, advertising, customers, email campaigns and all that goes along with those things on a high traffic, popular site. We did everything with Dreamweaver.

Just curious…

Interesting thread. I believe that if you use the code view editor in Dreamweaver then you really are coding everything yourself apart from adding the standard HTML like Doctype and other boring stuff which otherwords you would have to type out over and over again.

I believe that coding by hand say in Notepad is important and I will always do that a lot but if you can use a better editor for syntax highlighting and organisation then there is no problem with that.

As for freelancers saying ‘no Dreamweaver’ if you use purely the code editor in Dreamweaver then you can’t really tell as you have hand-wrote the code and it will have the same effect as it would in Notepad or some other text-editor.

I never really understood why people code by hand in the first place when its easier and quicker to use the code view in dreamweaver (imho).

Some do and some don’t. Personally, I generally don’t. Why? Because IDEs make me more efficient. I know [markup] languages like HTML/CSS/PHP like the back of my hand, that doesn’t mean I’m going to create an HTML page in Notepad just because it’s “hardcore”, I will at least use some kind of IDE that will complete tags for me and other helpful stuff like that. These helpful tools are even more important to actual languages because things like function references, intellisense, and code templates can shave large amounts of time off of a project, not to mention they help keep you organized via “Projects” and so-forth.

That being said, I don’t think newcomers to a specific markup or programming language should rely completely on these IDEs. Another example would be using a powerful Javascript library before you even know the core of ECMAScript, what happens when you don’t have that IDE or that Framework or that Library? More importantly, actually learning a language will help you learn how it works, it’s capabilities, how to think in it, and so forth. A Java IDE may generate all your classes and methods for you, but if you don’t understand OOP in the first place you’re screwed. Visual Studio may create Makefiles for you, but if you never study Makefiles you will never know all the sweet stuff you can do with them, and etc.

I happen to prefer hand-code over WYSIWYG. Mainly because there is more control over what is being done.
Although I don’t own Dreamweaver, I can tell you that I have some shortcuts in vim that will add certain steps that are otherwise boring and time consuming. Even a script to handle my forms comes into action from time to time.

Although hand-code is always cleaner (or should always be) I understand why some like using programs to assist in their daily work.

I code by hand and can’t imagine doing it any other way.

I code in dreamweaver purely for the project management, subversioning, and syntax highlighting. I think it’s pointless to code in notepad when there are syntax highlighting editors out there that make it easier to see errors and easier on the programmers eyes.

I will code a project based on one of a few frameworks I have built and snippets of functions or classes I have. The meat of each project is usually done from scratch though, which is what the client is paying me for.

Interesting discussion as I’ve been wondering about something.

When people say “hand-code”, what do they mean? What is the definition of it?

Because I use DW to code but I don’t use their WYSIWYG Editor. I just type in a few lines of CSS code and then it automatically spews out the rest of the line of code? Does that make me a hand-coder?

I use Dreamweaver, it offers lots of benefits such as link managment that sure make my life easier.

I use code view and use the visual editor only as a visual reference or to quickly modify text or insert a graphic.

The code DW insert can be modified by the end user and can be every bit as clean as hand coding.

same here :agree:

depending on how you define ‘hand code’. I frequently use Dreamweaver and Eclipse to help expedite my coding, however, I do always learn the language completely before depending on an IDE to do my work for me.

What are some advantages to coding by hand?

Coding by hand in terms of web design means writing the (x)HTML, CSS, most Javascript and so on 100% by yourself in a text editor - using a web browser to view the result. This sort of thing comes completely natural to a programmer because you want to understand how things work and make sure they do so perfectly.

And yes, professionals do generally write it themselves, however these days there’s frameworks and so on, which take control away from the person creating the website in order to speed up development time.

I would consider using the code view in DW as being a hand coder.

Regarding the original question yes professionals code everything by hand, im at a point now were I can code faster by hand than I would by using a wysisyg editor and the code is neater so less time fixing up crap the editor includes and the next person who comes along after me is going to be able to update/modify it a hell of a lot easier.

I have not worked for a company that used a wysiwyg in about six years and that company was a government organisation were people who knew nothing about creating web pages were required to create them, so they did a 2 day DW course and created crappy page that did the job, going through there code trying to fix or modify somthing was painful.

Very true, I agree with that. I just don’t see the complete advantage when efficiency is injected into the situation. I know HTML code and can modify whatever I need to. But why spend more time writing the code by hand than getting the job done and later making small modifications here and there if necessary?

I guess people have different situations and arrangements. But I’ve never worked in an environment, professional or personal, where I have the time to code by hand just in order to know how everything works when I already know how everything works, at the same time wasting valuable time doing so.

That was a long sentence.

I code by foot. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, I think that this isn’t a black & white issue. Like everything in life, the truth probably falls somewhere in the gray areas.

I don’t use Dreamweaver or any WYSIWYG editor, but I don’t hand code every line of HTML, CSS or PHP either. I personally use TextMate and have snippets of code I use frequently that are just a shorthand-tab away from auto-populating my pages with code. Along with the built-in snippets and macros, I can save a ton of time and reduce the number of lines I actually have to code.

I don’t like WYSIWYG editors though, because I hate the code they write. I can write code faster than I can clean up code from DW or GoLive. And I don’t think they promote good coding or design practices either.

Most professional firms I’ve seen want people who can hand-code. That doesn’t mean they use Notepad – there are good IDE’s and text editors like TextMate that work great.

As far as speed goes, I’d put up a serious, experienced hand-coder up against a good Dreamweaver user any day of the week. Given the exact same design comps in PhotoShop I bet the development time would be very similar.

Well the whole i dea i think its l\ hat when they say that its all about your knowledge…like for some example…someone using notepad and someone using notepad + they might both know what they are doing but notepad + just enhance everything…so in another word…i think that people are looking for things that are basically easy to use and more user friendly…well I think thats most people 's problems with flash(another subject)
but however no matter what you say you have to have some good kind of knowledge and\or understanding of HTML/Css/and PHP…to even use dreamweaver or any program of that nature.!

Other thing…to build a Full website…with like 15 links per pages…and hum lots of other stuff…(IMHO) you will have to use more than notepad!

So then you’re not really hand coding in the sense that you code every line yourself on every page. But I see what you’re saying. I will check out TextMate and the idea of auto-populating a text editor with pre-written code to speed up development time. That seems like a good middle ground for me, somewhat like the best of both worlds.


No it doesn’t. Hand coding means writing code in its native language instead of using a higher level GUI visual design tool, i.e, in web design this simply means not using a WYSIWYG editor. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you typed every single character by hand one by one. “Hand coding” does not prohibit one from using shortcuts such as copy & paste, auto complete, auto indent, code snippets, or code templates (if your editor/IDE supports any such or similar features) – all of which are designed to make hand coding more efficient.