Hand-Coding in Dreamweaver

By | September 20, 2005

Paul Scrivens wrote a nice little blog entry about why he thinks people should hand-code their web sites instead of using WYSIWYG editors, and Roger Johansson followed up with:

Right on, Scrivs. I’ve never seen the need for WYSIWYG tools, and I wouldn’t let someone who uses the design view of an application like Dreamweaver near my code unless they can prove that they actually do know HTML. In fact, I’m not so sure I would trust them anyway.

To be honest, I learned a lot of what I know about HTML from Dreamweaver 2.0. When I was first getting started, I had two teachers: “Sams Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 24 Hours” and Dreamweaver. I read the entire book, but most of my hands-on knowledge came from using Dreamweaver’s visual editor, then switching to code view to see how it did what it did. Now that I know what I know, I am glad that I used Dreamweaver and not some other lousy WYSIWYG program like FrontPage or something, since Dreamweaver is the only one I have seen that writes good code. So anyway, I learned HTML with Dreamweaver.

But let’s face it, I left Dreamweaver behind not long after that. It’s like a first girlfriend: yeah, Dreamweaver, I appreciate all you taught me, but the biggest thing I learned from you is that you’re not exactly what I’m looking for. But thanks to you, I know more what to look for in my next editor.

The crazy thing is, I still use Dreamweaver! Why? Simple: built-in FTP. I haven’t gone into design mode (aka, WYSIWYG mode) in years, but no matter how many text editors I try out, I always come back to Dreamweaver for the FTP. Life is so easy when you can finish up a script and do a quick Ctrl-S, Shift-Ctrl-U, and voila! It’s on the Internet!

Some other text editors I have seen have other forms of built-in FTP, but nothing as nice a Dreamweaver’s. I have looked all around and tried to find something new, because it seems silly to use a $300 program for one tiny feature, but I always come back to Dreamy-poo.

Anyone out there know a nice text editor with all the essential features* that ALSO has great FTP support like Dreamweaver does?

*Of course, by “essential features,” I mostly mean syntax highlighting for a wide variety of languages (especially XHTML, PHP, and CSS) and good auto-tabbing. I may be missing out on a lot of cool features that other editors have, but nothing has replaced the FTP support on the top of my Important List.

5 thoughts on “Hand-Coding in Dreamweaver

  1. Abhay

    If you’re desperate for FTP support, i’d guess the best thing would be Zend Studio which definately is an impressive IDE for php. Personally I use PHPEdit. Although it doesn’t have that FTP aspect, it’s quite functional and has an added benefit of being able to integrate with Subversion and CVS. Zend is limited to CVS and I use the formerr version control system when I have the choice.

  2. Jeff J. Snider Post author

    I downloaded the trial of Zend Studio a few weeks ago and gave it a try, but I never did get into it. I think the problem was just that the learning curve is too high to make it worth it for me on a trial basis. It seemed like it would take me the full month just to figure out what I was doing.

    I may have to try it again, because I’m sure my company would pay for it if I needed it. Out of curiosity, do you happen to know how it does with CSS and XHTML and stuff? Does it focus solely on PHP and ignore the others?

  3. Jeff J. Snider Post author

    Paulo, thanks for the tip. Maybe you can help me with something. UltraEdit is another one I tried, and I liked it a lot except for one thing: once I had saved a file to the FTP server, it just automatically saved it there from that point on, and didn’t save it locally. What I like about Dreamweaver is that I do Ctrl-S to save it on my machine, and Shift-Ctrl-U to upload it to the FTP server, so it is two separate processes. With UltraEdit, it seemed to be one or the other. Am I missing something?

    Also, in Dreamweaver, I set up my “site,” along with all the FTP info, and it automatically knows where to put the files. With UltraEdit, if I remember right, I had to tell it where to put it each time I opened a new file. (It was smart enough to put the same file in the same place each time I saved it during that session, but if I closed the file and opened it later, I had to tell it where to put it again.)

    I don’t expect you to walk me through everything, but I am just wondering if you know if I am missing some of UltraEdit’s capabilities. If so, please let me know, and I will give it another try. Thanks!

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