You Are Not a Web Developer

Yes, I’m talking to you, Dreamweaver user. You. Are. Not. A. Web. Developer. You’re just the person that is screwing up the nice, pretty, semantic, standards-based Internet for the rest of us. The one that devalues our hard work with your naive undercutting. The one who makes our life hell when our project managers quote maintenance or design-tweaking projects not realizing that we can’t just reuse your code and keep our dignity intact. You. I really hate you, you MM_preloader using, nested-tables employing you.

But it’s not because you use Dreamweaver. It’s the fact that you use it as a crutch. Yes, you call it a tool.  A great tool that lets you create these awesome sites without knowing how to do any coding. That, my enemy, is a crutch, not a tool. And p.s. your sites aren’t awesome; they’re bloated, inefficient and have nasty, nasty code under the hood because you don’t know the two types of markup that a developer uses daily: CSS and HTML.

Why is it so wrong?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to just berate you and not try to back myself up a bit.

You can’t fix it when it doesn’t work right

So, you tell Dreamweaver to lay something out in a specific way, but then it doesn’t look right in a certain browser. But, you don’t know how to fix the code and make it work right, do you? Yeah, didn’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, developers spend time debugging and don’t always know how to fix it, but we do know what we’re looking at when we take a gander at the code, and can understand what the code is doing when we find a fix from some other resource.

You’re ignoring SEO

Sure, you might be using header tags, and may even have the right meta tags in there. But you’re not coding for search-based optimization. First, your code is bloated. Search engines sometimes parse the first hundred or fewer lines of code, and your bloated code might not have anything of interest until far later in the code. Second, if you are using rollovers or drop-down menus, you’re using code that search engines can’t do anything with. Much of Dreamweaver’s built in code for things like drop-down menus and rollover images is based on JavaScript, even though it’s not generally needed to do either of those things. Both can be accomplished with CSS.

You’re letting your users get bored

Have I mentioned that your code is inefficient and bloated? Yes? Well, I don’t mind saying it again and again and again. Because all that inefficient, bloated code is extra bytes for your users to download. Extra bytes that really increase loading time. People get bored waiting for a site to load. Then they leave. Without seeing your content. In this new world of 2010, where it seems like everyone has mobile Web access, small, efficient sites are back in vogue. Who wants to pull down three different JavaScript libraries and hundreds of extra lines of code on 3G? (Gods forbid a user is still on EDGE) Slow sites mean fewer visitors willing to stick around long enough for the chance to visit. Svelte code is sexy. Your overweight code is as bad as the obesity epidemic plaguing America.

And this point isn’t just true of Dreamweaver-based sites. iLife, Frontpage, Microsoft Word, whatever other WYSIWYG editor du jour you can name… they all create truly horrendous code that is terribly bloated.

Hey Kettle, you’re black!

Yeah, Pot, that’s right, I do use Dreamweaver. Eight hours a day, more or less. But you know, for a while there, I actually forgot it had something called design view, until my preferences got all screwed up and reset themselves, causing a project to load up in design view. That was a shocker. See, I use it because it’s a decent text editor and code completion speeds up development time. It has a built in project system with an FTP tool that keeps me from having to run two or three programs at a time. But ultimately, I use it because it is what is on my system at work.

Curtis McHale said it well in an article reprimanding hiring managers for saying “Dreamweaver users need not apply”:

At my fulltime job it simply comes down to cost. I use Dreamweaver because it is in CS3. There is no real break through feature that I could find to justify to my boss so that they would purchase Coda.

And Curtis is lucky. He posted that over a year ago and had CS3 at work. Here it is Aug. 2010 and I’m still stuck with CS2 at my 9-5. It’s a sore point for me. But hey, I’m employed, I’m not going to complain too awful much. But there’s probably a snowball’s chance in hell that my company is going to pony up cash for a different program.

I could write a site up in Text Edit or Notepad if that is all that was available to me, then pull up an FTP program to upload to the server. It’d decrease my efficiency, but I could do it. But if you’re paying me, don’t you want me to be as efficient with my time as possible? Of course, if you aren’t the company I work for, you’re not paying me to use Dreamweaver because I use Coda at home. But you, you’re not efficient. It takes me less time to type it all out, because I know the code, than it does for you to go through all the WYSIWYG dialogs.

Are you willing to defend Dreamweaver WYSIWYG? Go ahead, play Devil’s advocate in the comments.

One thought on “You Are Not a Web Developer”

  1. Damn!!!

    Looks like I just said everything. Dude, this whole article, word to word is what I feel and do. I am a dreamweaver addict but I never use design mode.

    BTW, try using Zen coding to speed up ur development time

    I can now create any HTML page in ten minutes, like a machine and then get down to do CSS. First build of page gets ready within a few hours

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