Ditch The Shackles – The WYSIWYG Editor!

Sometimes the easiest solution isn’t the best solution – and unfortunately a lot of Developers start their career on the wrong path thinking otherwise.

When I first was learning how to make websites I loaded up the latest version of Adobe Dreamweaver (then Macromedia) and started designing away – adding tables (This was awhile ago!), some animated gifs and yes, on occasions – even some midi files. The sites that were made were predictably a splurge of awfulness that were by all counts an serious offence to the eyes – but they were my own sites and even now I have a special place in my heart for those sites as they got me into an industry I love.

I was making these ‘Dreamweaver’ sites with a few years and what did I learn? Absolutely zilch. Nadda. Not a darn thing! Sure the end result looked impressive for someone who couldn’t code (or clearly could design!) but all I was doing was using menus, dragging and dropping pictures and in general having the code written for me by the underlying editor. It was all too easy to produce these sites and think I had no need to learn how to code, the end justifies the means if you will.

This was the single largest mistake of my development life and yet one I suspect quite a few young programmers made and even to this day still make. If I could go back to 14 year old me and make myself open up Notepad and just attempt to code everything from scratch I would – and it would not of taken me years longer than it needed to learn the wonders of CSS, HTML and Javascript.

So why is it that even now colleges and schools all over are still teaching kids to use Dreamweaver before actually teaching them to code. Dreamweaver and other WYSIWYG editors are great tools and heck I even use them to do this day for prototyping – but they are tools that are meant to assist your coding, not replace it.

So what’s my point? Un-install your WYSIWYG editors until you can build the exact same site without needing them. Creating your sites from scratch will take longer, you’ll likely even have more trouble – but in the long run… in the long run you’ll thank yourself. Editing your own code is a darn sight easier than editing some of the garbage that editors generate for you, and beyond that you can be more creative when you remove the shackles.

Did you fall into this trap? Let me know in the comments!
Daniel Clarke,

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