[thelist] Hand Coding vs. WYSIWYGs [was 12yr old]

Tom Dell'Aringa pixelmech at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 29 10:55:15 CST 2004

> John wrote:
> Someone said we should explain the difference between hand-coded
> HTML and WYSIWYG-produced HTML. Well, what are the benefits to the 
> client?

First of all, at least call the thread what it is ;). I my 8 or 9
years experience in this field, I've noticed that this argument pops
up often from newer people to the field who have found a Dreamweaver,
or a GoLive (or CyberStudio as it once was), a Net Objects Fusion -
whatever - and found it useful to get them going.

But because they are new(er), they don't understand the deeper issues
involved. In fact I remember when I was new and using CyberStudio
back in 1996-7 trying to understand the difference myself. Back then
the example was postscript - "we use QuarkXPress now to do documents,
would you code postscript by hand?" was one argument. It doesn't
really wash. I would chime in with these facts:

 - The myth that WYSIWYGs are faster than hand coding is just that -
a myth. A person with an intricate knowledge of HTML and a IDE that
they are comfortable with can author *faster*. They understand the
concepts of designing code better, they usually have lots of
tricks/macros whathaveyou available to them, and they can flat out
get there faster. It's part of the tool - but it's also indicitive of
the skill of the coder.

 - Hand written code is a better product. Even though this gap has
closed with some really good software of late, I still think well
thought out, hand coded pages beat the WYSIWYGS, until further
notice. Assuming the hand coder is an experienced professional, the
code is going to be clean, concise and work well. This translates
into lots of benefits such as ease of maintenance - which is a big

- If I want to code to standards and use some somewhat advanced xHTML
CSS layouts, I simply have to have my hands in the code. Otherwise I
would be shuffling through so many dialog boxes and wizards I'd never
get anything done.

So the real benefits to the client - I still think speed of delivery
and a quality product. A product that can be gone into in 6 months
and succesfully edited by *another* person with *any* application.

And I still believe that the hand-coder is the professional who truly
understands what is going on in the code, which is vitally important.
It gives the person the ability to adapt to businesses decisions and
be able to talk intelligently and relevantly about design or design
changes. And if you work in this field, you have to be able to think
on your feet and change at a moment's notice.

I'm not trying to pooh-pooh WYSIWYG users, either. I used to use one
myself. It's a great way to get started for one. And many allow you
to get into the code and kind of work "half in half". But I think you
do yourself a disservice by not "going all the way" as it were and
just jumping into the code.

For what it's worth, all the professionals I know that work in my
field - I'm talking people with full-time jobs or consultants with
real client lists - are hand coders. The guys who write the blogs
that you respect in this field, SimleBits.com and StopDesign.com to
name two - are hand coders. This isn't a coincidence!

So get your hands dirty already! 

My .02 


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