Programs versus hand-coding?

Thought I’d post this since I was wondering about other people’s opinions on the subject. I use HTML and hand-code each page on my website, basically researching all the codes I need and typing each one out on my own. However, I’ve heard that there are some very good programs out there that could make it much easier. Does anyone know the names of a few of these programs, a ballpark cost and any personal favorites? Or is there anyone else that, like me, hand-codes their pages?

Untrue. While there are programs that will generate HTML for you, none of them are good. I recommend sticking with hand-coding.

There are editors you can use for hand coding that can make your job easier though. I use skEdit on OS X. It does code-completion for HTML and CSS and code hinting for PHP, which can save a lot of time.

If you want useful replies, ask smart questions.

Ahhh, that sounds interesting. I hadn’t thought about editors at all. makes mental note to check the link later I have a couple site-designing friends that keep making fun of me for hand-coding, which was why I originally asked - but I like it, and when something goes wrong, it’s infinitely easier to fix.

I agree, it’s much easier to fix if something goes wrong. But stuff like code highlighting and auto-completion (and auto-upload etc.) really makes life easier. I’ve always handcoded from the beginning, starting by looking at the source Frontpage made (eek) and reading what I found on the web. This has really helped me to develop a good understanding of code, and now I’m quite experienced with php, sql and stuff - which no WYSIWYG editor can make.

Also, I like webstandards a lot, so I stick with XHTML Strict and CSS. I use Dreamweaver for all my coding needs; you can download a 30 day trial at their website. Try it!

And if it’s got to be much simpler, I use notepad2 (search on google), lovely little program. :wink:

Got luck with everything - and if I were you, I’d laugh back at your friends’ ignorance - they won’t ever get anywhere with no coding skills. :wink:


IMHO, there are two very relevent, and different sorts of questions alluded to in your post. I’m far from the oldest guy on the block, but I do have 10 years of professional experience. I choose to handcode all of my templates too. I abhor WYSIWYG editors not only because they typically shield users from the syntax they should be learning, but also because they kludge the source code all up. Intuitive coding style, using proper indentation and such, is paramount to code reusability and maintenance on larger projects.

Having said that, there is one essential “program” (family) for any site with more than one page. That being a server-side application server of some sort, such as PHP with a MySQL backend. To hand-code 300 similar pages for a product catalog is a terrible practice in my mind. I was working with a designer who had made a few hundred travel destination pages for an agency. I broke down the style into about 8 templates and eliminated hundreds of documents, all of which would need to be modified if some aspect of the site design changed.

I personally have used Homesite for years and love it. It’s personal preference, and this is also commercial software. Eclipse is a very capable, extensible, open-source IDE. There is a version tailored to PHP development too. Deciding on a coding method is a personal choice, but don’t be a digital luddite. If someone wants to reject all design tools for a strictly old-school development style, I hope they draw all their graphic images on paper by hand too.

Ah, I probably should have included something about templates in the original question. xD I’m not sure if I use the word in the same context you do - one horrible class aside, I’ve learned pretty much all my programming language informally - but I’m thinking it’s similar. I basically type out a base form with the hunks of code for menu bars and banners and whatnot, then copy it into the rest of the pages that’re similar and retool it as needed. I.E., my manga-comic site has five full pages finished, but I only typed out the codes for the big menu bar, bottom links and banners in the original Index page. The rest was copy and paste.

gleefully sticks links in her files to read later This should be more than helpful. Doing all the graphics by hand is fun, but it doesn’t leave much time for coding, let alone researching codes for fun stuff.

Templating is similar to what you are saying except that you let the server do the “copy and paste” part. You create a layout (that can be multiple files) and the code behind it draws what it needs, often fetching the data from a database like MySQL.

As for the original question, I don’t use any wysiwyg editors. For the most part, I stick to vim. For minor edits on Windows boxes I use Crimson Editor and on OSX I use subethaedit. For more significant PHP projects, I use Zend Studio.

Check out Gordaen’s Knowledge, the blog, and the MR2 page.

I learned HTML first, but use programs like Dreamweaver to get things done faster.

If you don’t learn HTML first, a WYSIWYG editor will eventually do something that will get on your nerves and you won’t know how to go in and correct it.

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Yuck. Tried DW for a client that needs ColdFusion support and found it completely annoying - especially for the bits and pieces of PHP code that I’ve integrated into the CF site.

I still recommend NuSphere PHPEd. Much more customizable than DW, supports CVS much easier, even has limited CF support and retails for US$100 less than DW.

I sense a fellow DeviantArt subscriber.

There is also a lot of free alternatives… that have code completion and a lot of features… just go strait to source fourge…

you will always find something cool there…

I code in 3 application, being Zend (commercial,, which I really, really like for its debugger, codecompetion, and definitly it’s phpdoc possibillities.
The second program I use for a quick drawing of a form or layout or a table is Dreamweaver(commercial,, which I also like for its decent wysiwyg features

The third program is notepad++ (free,, which i use for quick and dirty pages that don’t require a long thinkover etc

I’m really for hand-coding because at this time, there are very few decent wysiwyg editors.

I haven’t hand-coded an entire site in ages. It’s just too tedious for the amount of stuff I have, and I don’t like re-inventing the wheel. There are many great CMSes (Content Management Systems) out there. My personal favorite for the last couple of years has been Drupal. Drupal is open source and free of cost.

i live by the law of write it yourself.

there are some obvious things i don’t write myself as there are better programs out there.

i used dreamweaver to hand code sites.

always stick to the rules:
HTML = is to markup only
CSS = design, presentation, layout
PHP/ASP with MYSQL etc… managing content if the sites big enough

final rule is NEVER USE TABLES FOR DESIGN/LAYOUT tables are for tabular data

Check out HTML-Kit, I prefer it above Dreamweaver since Dreamweaver is buggy and slow for me.

Lately I’m going for CMS’s since most people that use the website I’m making don’t know much about HTML/PHP and it saves me precious time. I like CMS Made Simple (don’t know Drupal).

If you hand code, keep on keepin on.
If you’re looking to save time (and this’ll probably get a lot of groans, but I came from notepad and am assuming you are too), try emacs. After 20 minutes of swearing at it, and a few more min. of the “oh crap I’ll never be able to remember all this” panic, I fell in love. Give it a shot, you may too.

nuh uhn!

I do all my work using the hand coded approach and utilising nothing but open source tools. Bluefish as a programming text editor. The GIMP for graphics work.

The one problem I have seen with using wysiwyg editors besides the not learning code things, is that I tend to see a lot of websites that have that ‘spat out with default settings’ look. Doing everything by hand lets you be so much more creative and also through learning the ins and outs of the code you can eventually create some excellent masterpieces that are w3c valid, accessible and totally cross-browser functioning.

I think it really depends on what the project is you are working on. I generally do everything by hand, but occasionaly have found a WYSIWYG tool to be a great help. My projects can generally be classified as fitting into one of 3 groups.

  1. A typical static site with no dynamic content, I will use TextMate, my favorite text editor.

  2. A site with a developed backend (for me that means Ruby on Rails, usually) I will use TextMate or RadRails.

  3. A quick and dirty “get it out the door” site. I will use RapidWeaver. Why? I design my template or use a stock one (usually design my own). I then create pages in either wysiwig mode (styled text) or I can create a code page where I design it explicitly in markup. It also has tools for rapidly creating galleries, slideshows, and some plugins for some nice javascript effects.
    The markup it generates is fantastic and very very readable. My only complaint is the way it auto generates the site structure. But then again, I use it for the quick stuff so I guess it is a fair give and take.