Dreamweaver vs Hand-coding

Best way to code a website?

When I first started out, I used Dreamweaver. I used it because I didn’t know how to write code.

This was a problem because I was letting a program auto-spit out code that I didn’t know of what quality it was. I soon found out too that Dreamweaver is after all just a program that easily makes mistakes. It does a lot of guess work, therefore, if you don’t keep an eye out, it creates errors that won’t validate and even breaks your design. It also spits out a lot of unnecessary junk like comments.

Dreamweaver made me lazy and sloppy. Like many designers who didn’t know any better, I thought all that mattered was that the site looked right on the front-end and didn’t have a care in the world for clean code.

As I continued learning and started caring about SEO-friendliness and the quality of my code, I cut Dreamweaver loose and switched over to Notepad. This forced me to continue learning and gave me precise control over my code. Now, I can write HTML and CSS fluently. They’re second languages to me now.

Eventually, Notepad wasn’t cutting it, but Dreamweaver was still too much. I now use Notepad++, which is basically an advanced version of Notepad. Now that I know how to code properly, I probably could go back and use Dreamweaver more effectively, I just don’t know why I’d want to.

What do you use?

What Do You Use to Code?

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Some programs are grouped because they’re essentially the Windows and Mac equivalents.

  • I use Smultron Bryan. It is free, and it is pretty good for any kind of coding.

  • Text wrangler is amazing :D

  • Daniel

    phpstorm/webstorm :)

  • I use Zend Studio for PHP, PHPStorm, or UEStudio (UltraEdit Studio), depending on the project. For CSS I use Skybound’s awesome Stylizer (available both for Windows and OSX). Stylizer gives the flexibility of Dreamweaver for adjusting your layout, but as it only modifies CSS, the site code can be clean, hand-written code.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The auto-generated code is messy. It may be OK for a quick page, and perhaps for prototyping, but any site receiving real traffic, needing cross-browser compatibility, and being SEO friendly it won’t cut it. For larger sites carefully designed templating can be used.. if the templates are hand-written, the end-result is quite clean. I’ve used Smarty extensively in the past and look for getting to know Twig better in the future.

  • Yeah, I think the bottom line is there is nothing wrong with whatever tool you use to help you in your productivity as long as you don’t solely rely on the tool and do go over it by hand.

    Personally I just like coding by hand. Also I don’t like the unnecessary indentation in automated code. I like minified or semi-minified code.

    Take for example, “proper” syntax and indentation may look like:

    body {
    background: url(“https://bryanhadaway.com/images/BG.png”) repeat scroll 0 0 #FFFFFF;
    border: 0 none;
    margin: 150px 0 80px;
    padding: 0;
    }

    Why is that necessary? I’d prefer:

    body{background:#fff url(“https://bryanhadaway.com/images/BG.png”);padding:0;border:0;margin:150px 0 80px}

    So a lot of it is preference, but programmers, designers, whoever you are if you work with code check your work.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • I use html-kit tools the only shareware i have paid for the upgrade for .totally satisfied makes coding easy and clear. good ftp features too. also portable version. http://www.htmlkit.com/

  • Sekinu2

    I guess you have to understand html and hand coding at least a little bit to know why it would be better..I have only used dreamweaver over the last 10 years as my way to create web pages. I know basically nothing about code. I kind of know the very basic like a header is the top body the middle and footer at the end. I have no clue about the tags or symbols or how to place an image by writting letters. I create in design mode with tables and layers and just put what I want exactly where I want it and can size, move or modify the actual obects or text. I hear about sloppy excessive code but really have no idea what it really means. i guess it has something to do with load speeds as I know dreamweaver code has always rendered fine when its live on a server so I am guessing its like being a neat freak both way work fine but maybe a hand coder has less code in the code view??I have tried to learn some coding but its like a foreign language to me and I have no idea to make t do anything. I can make a complete page with flash , audio and images in just a couple minutes but to even get the title or position of something would take me days messing in code…I guess we all use what we know and are comfortable with. I am now just learning new things that cs5.5 can do.

  • Yeah, it’s strange because to me Flash is extremely confusing to program. Even if I was an expert in Flash though I still would be against all Flash sites, as in a website that is completely built with Flash, not all sites that use Flash.

    I suppose in a sense it’s a bit of a perfectionist thing, I feel as many others do, that code is art. Where your point of view is more common, get it done, put it together… it works, next project.

    It does matter though, as far as SEO, cross-browser-compatibility, user-friendliness, it matters.

    If you don’t mind, can I get the URL of one of your sites that is built completely in Dreamweaver? I can make some comparisons, notes, maybe give some pointers and point out why this, that or the other could be done better.

    Thanks, Bryan

  • Rami

    Sometimes (1% of my real work) I use WYSIYG programs like DW and Microsoft Expression to prototype and get something up and running fast, i do this when i am implementing something fairly complex like a huge form with 40 inputs that i want it to look good, validate, and be functional at the same time, it all depends on the language to tell you the truth, because if i am using a Ruby gem like simple_form, then it’s hand-coded for me since those apps won’t be an option.

  • Kyle

    coderunner’s the best

  • dreamweaver is tricky to use, when you are doing a simple site, often the msg show that you cant modify CSS because its a remote file, which can be very annoying to debug

  • I use Geany

  • clod

    I use Codelobster: http://www.codelobster.com
    It very smart free editor