Debate – WYSIWYG: a Web Designer’s Dream
It’s another SitePoint Debate! Today, two experienced developers argue whether it’s better to hand code your HTML, or create Web pages in a WYSIWYG editor. Don’t miss the opposition’s arguments — they might just change your opinion on this controversy…
These are the bane of most Web developers’ lives, and often, as projects get more and more complex, any way to increase work speed and productivity is greatly appreciated!
To put it simply: hand coding is finicky. When you’re hand coding, it’s all too easy to forget to hit "tab" — when you arrive at the end of your code, you discover that every single line is out of whack! You can easily avoid these kinds of hand coding misadventures with the help of a good WYSIWYG editor.
WYSIWYG editors, such as Dreamweaver, allow users to create their Websites as an all-in-one-process. For instance, you click "insert image" and select an image, and Dreamweaver simply inserts the code in the background. Hand coding the HTML to achieve this same result will take much longer (in most cases) and you can easily misprint a word, or miss out a quote, which will necessitate tedious code debugging later, and cost you yet more time.
The end product is neatly-tabbed, consistent code — a godsend in situations where you need to add to the existing code but you don’t have a WYSIWYG editor handy, or when server side code, which really cannot be implemented via this sort of editor, needs to be incorporated.
A Designer’s Dream
A lot of designers are just that: they’re absolute wizards in Photoshop, for example. But when it comes to coding their design, they’re lost! Often it’s easier to put it off and waste time, rather than face up to the task of working out where to put tables and how their attractive layout can actually be put together in HTML code.
It really is convenient to simply open up your site in an editor, and view the layout as it will appear in a browser — especially for those who have trouble visualising how all those
<td> tags actually create the layout! This is why so many designers find it easier to cut up their images, fire up a WYSIWYG editor, and simply insert them into a new HTML document. Their template is basically ready for use in around 5 minutes. They provide a range of other advantages, too.
Enhancing the Site
Maintaining Site Structure
What really is an advantage to using WYSIWYG editors is that all your pages and elements can be viewed live in a "tree" view, so you can really get a feel for the way your site is laid out — not to mention easily double-check which pages link to which! With the press of a button, you can update links site-wide, or search and replace over your entire site.
Many WYSIWYG editors also provide a great tool for interacting with others. If all the designers in a team working on a particular project use the same editor, you can easily transfer sites to others for their input and amendments.
The User-Friendly Alternative
These editors allow designers to use templates, and they’re a quick and easy way for the less-savvy user to edit their files on the home computer. Many clients, too, now want to edit their sites in some way, and unless they use a complex content management system it can be very difficult. Often a WYSIWYG editor will be the most direct and hassle-free method by which they can edit the content without having to wade through hundreds of lines of code.
All in all a WYSIWYG editor lets you make quick changes to other people’s (sometimes messy) code, and to quickly create and manage your own sites with a minimum of fuss and technical knowledge. It’s a tool that many designers swear by — and it’s easy to see why. Hand coding might be more prestigious, but for simplicity, flexibility, and ease of use, sometimes you just can’t go past a WYSIWYG editor.
What do you think? Don’t miss the opposition’s arguments — they might just change your opinion on the hand coding controversy…