in Graphic Design, Web Design

Learning HTML > WYSIWYG

Barring the risk of sounding like a hypocrite here, there is no substitute for learning raw HTML when creating your first site.¬† Yes, my first site was in Geo-cities, but then I was young and never had an awesome tutorial blog to help me out with it. ūüėõ

What is WYSIWYG?
(Pronounced: Wizzeewig.¬† Wierd, I know.) It’s an adjective actually. Used to describe a type of editor (Or CMS – Content Management System) for websites which composes of horrible attempts at making site editing easy.¬† The acronym stands for “What You See Is What You Get” which is not always the case when you end up actually using one.

Samples of popular WYSIWYG Editors are:

  • The “Design” tab in Dreamweaver: It’s a decent preview sometimes but don’t rely on it.¬† Dreamweaver comes with a “Preview in Browser” function for a reason.¬† And for gawd’s sake, don’t make edits in that view.
  • Geo-cities: Which is currently closing down, but this was the earliest online version that I’ve had my hands on.
  • Microsoft Front Page: Good for one-off sites.
  • Macromedia Adobe Contribute: Works best if a site was previously setup by a designer and specific elements were locked down.

Why WYSIWYG Editors are the Bane of Existance
You can’t take shortcuts in life.¬† Even though this type of editor may make web design seem easy and beautiful on its front-end with its drag and drop interface, its posterior is as fowl as…….well, you know.¬† A lot of the time, these programs will generate code that is deprecated (outdated), or non-standards compliant.¬†This type of code is riddled with “cheats” which force the elements¬†into place.

Future Unfriendly
The biggest problem happens with site maintenance. Most of the web content you produce will have a fluid nature to it, changing constantly.¬† The more edits you do to a page through the Editor, the less chance you have of those elements behaving the way you want them to. Why?¬† Because the code that gets spit out everytime you make those changes get patchworked together like a badly sewn quilt.¬† Over time it will continue to decay like cancer, and eventually eat at your site until you can’t edit it anymore.

What is HTML?
For starters, it’s a noun. The acronym stands for Hyper-Text Markup Language.¬† According to Wikipedia, HTML is a text and image formatting language used by internet browsers to dynamically format web page.

HTML is Pain-Free
Learning simple HTML is not as daunting as it seems. It’s all about process. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy!¬† Site maintenance becomes a snap, and it will be easier for others to manage as well.¬† HTML is also the most forgiving language you could possibly learn because you could mess up a bit and it would still come out looking ok. It’s also very quick to learn.

HTML is Universal
The foundation of all websites is HTML. Knowing how to handle it makes it easier so you can customize your site and stand out. If you see something you like on someone else’s site, you will know how to adapt those elements for your site. WYSIWYG editors are usually less accomodating in this respect.

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