Moving on from Dreamweaver


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!

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.


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.


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.


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 (

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!


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.

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.

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.

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.

Netbeans is Java based, runs sloooowly :confused:

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!

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.

Um, we’re talking to somebody who’s used to running Dreamweaver:lol:

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.