Top 5 Reasons Why NOT to Use a WYSIWYG Editor for Web Development

WYSIWYG stands for “what you see is what you get.” Although as you may find in web development what you see is not always what you get! These editors are usually used by beginning coders to see what they’re coding visually and then uploading the code to a server. About a decade ago this would have worked fine but with modern-day technologies emerging and evolving WYSIWYG is becoming ancient history. The way we code now and the way we coded then are two completely different entities, and unless you can keep up with the times your skills will be obsolete quickly. Here are five reasons why you should not use a WYSIWYG editor: 1. WYSIWYG editors only provide a visual, but the code may not be accurate. I’ve done coding on these editors before, but it didn’t always produce what I saw in my head or what a designer presented to me. Font sizing might be different, spacing might be different, and possibly layout might be different. The visual that you see is what the program you’re using generates as HTML code. That code that is getting spit out is not accurate and probably not valid. If your program is older it’s probably using older tags to generate some of your HTML code. If you care about code validation then your code will probably be invalid most of the time. In order to create valid code, you must write it from scratch, without the assistance of an editor. 2. It is hard to use code generated from one editor into another editor. Three of the top editors that I’m aware of that are popular are Microsoft’s FrontPage, Microsoft Word, and Adobe Dreamweaver. I do use Adobe Dreamweaver because it gives me three settings. One setting is code-only, another is a split of code and visual, and the other is purely visual. In my opinion from the beginner to the advanced coder it’s the best of all worlds. What I don’t like about Microsoft’s versions is that it spits out code that not even HTML friendly. You first create from the visual end and THEN see what your code looks like, when in real HTML development you do it the other way around. If you’ve ever tried to bring FrontPage or Word HTML code over into a text editor or even Dreamweaver you’ll find there’s a lot of garbage surrounding the code that you’ll have to strip out and possibly do over. So as far as product recommendation, I’d recommend Adobe Dreamweaver, no matter what level you’re at. Stay away from FrontPage and only use Word for word processing (which is its original purpose to begin with). 3. WYSIWYG editors are not used in the real-world. If you’re an aspiring web developer, you’ll notice that very few (if any) job requirements say anything outside of you being able to code from scratch, or code without the assistance of a WYSIWYG editor. This is because WYSIWYG editors are not made for real-world application. We used to use them for those geocities websites back in the 1990s or just for fun. Real coders code from scratch because they know they have to. You can’t do modern-day applications based on what it looks like. Some websites are so dynamic that what you code and what you see might be two different things. If a website is very dynamic then the editor will show you everything garbled up. If you go to a job with only WYSIWYG experience then you won’t be at job for long unless you’re a quick learner and hard-worker. Employers EXPECT their coders to know how to code without assistance. 4. WYSIWYG editors only allow you to see HTML, not any other technology around HTML. If you have flash in your site, it will show up as a big block in your visual pane. If you have Javascript in your code that determines what elements show up where, it’ll show up as an icon in your visual pane. In other words, you won’t see what you coded. The best way to see what you coded is to create a local environment or a development environment and post files to that environment as you’re updating your code. That way you’ll be able to truly see what your code looks like on a real server. Websites nowadays are more than HTML, they are HTML with audio, video, databases, animation and a lot of other dynamic things going on behind the scenes. Every part of your website is not visual on the front-end, some things can only be done on the back-end. 5. Web 2.0 coding is not WYSIWYG-friendly. Web 2.0 websites include, but is not limited to, social-networking sites, blogs, wikis, and websites that allow users to interact and share information. Previous websites were more for brochure replacements and perhaps had light interactivity involved. Today’s websites are full of movement and exchange. If you’re depending on a WYSIWYG panel in order to make sure your website looks and interacts properly, you are in for a rude awakening! In today’s website development you need to know how to code without assistance from a program. If for some reason you only had Notepad in a work environment, then you better know how to code in Notepad. Web 2.0 coding isn’t for beginners, but for those who have knowledge of how HTML interacts with other technologies such as Flex, Air, Flash, JSON, Actionscript, Javascript, AJAX, and the like. Even knowing just HTML isn’t enough anymore. These other technologies are the wave of the future. WYSIWYG was great for its time, but that time has passed. I highly recommend that you find tutorials online to assist you in learning HTML. We’re now entering the realm of HTML5 which has new features for audio and video and blogging that weren’t available in HTML4 or even XHTML. A developer always needs to stay on top of current trends in order to be marketable and effective in today’s development world; otherwise what you see won’t be what anyone wants.

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