I’ve spent some time over the last couple of days wrangling with Dreamweaver. I started to write up what Dreamweaver is, and what its alternatives are, and why those pieces of information are pertinent to the story. But then I realized that, if I have to explain these things, you’re not really going to get the story, which is ok. Not everybody has to get every story. Instead, the story shall stand on its own.
Once, a long long time ago, back when the Internet was in its infancy, a smart young man foolishly took me under his somewhat drunken wing and decided to give me a leg up in the world of web development. I was given the task of writing a simple web page – the HTML equivalent of “Hello World” – and to have it ready for his review the following morning. I did a couple of gopher searches, poked around at the newly-released Netscape Navigator web browser, and soon had a page ready.
The next morning came around, and my mentor came in and directed me to produce what I came up with. I opened the aforementioned Netscape, and displayed my page. The mentor took a quick look and deemed it worthwhile, and then told me to change a couple of things. Confident in what I’d learned the night before, I launched the “web editor” portion of the application. As it was loading, I suddenly felt a sharp rap on the top of my head.
“You will not use web editors,” said my mentor.
“Why?” I asked, rubbing the top of my head.
“Because if you’re just dragging pieces, clicking around like a monkey, you don’t know the code. If you don’t know the code, then you don’t know how it works together. If you don’t know how it works together, you don’t actually know it at all, and you’re a hack. Know your code.”
I’ve made a couple of recent forays into the world of graphical web site creators and editors, and every single time, I’ve reverted back to editing the code directly (when possible) or longing for the ability to do so. That five minute conversation has probably done more to shape the way I think of web page development (and later, actually programming) than anything else.
Oh yeah. And I’ve ditched Dreamweaver.