Friday Feast #59: WYSIWYG and Dreamweaver MX 2004
Weaving CSS Dreams is a terrific article by Doug Bowman about the new Dreamweaver MX 2004. He takes a good look at the pros and cons of using WYSIWYG software in general and the new Dreamweaver in specific. As Doug also mentions, Macromedia has worked closely with the WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force for a couple of years now and more recently with Eric Meyer. The results have meant vast improvements from what their product was prior to their MX series.
What You See is Not Always What You Get
I’m sure many of us have clients who don’t know any HTML, they don’t want to know any HTML, but they also want to change and update their own website content. Naturally and understandably they turn to WYSIWYG editing tools or content management systems. Most of these people also assume that such tools do a good job behind the scenes in addition to what they see visually. For those who are aware that W3C Recommendations exist, they also largely assume that these tools strictly follow those recommendations or some form of industry standards.
People ought to be able to assume that these tools do indeed produce standards-based results; however, most of us web designers and developers already know that such assumptions are too often incorrect. Although some tools are gradually improving, many of these tools can also produce horrendous and bloated behind-the-scenes markup. Down the road people using these convenient tools may wonder why their pages aren’t working anymore or why the layouts are thrown off horribly in various browsers. Some even find out that all their content is locked within a content management system that can’t be exported to use in another program without a huge effort and expense, and even then may result in not getting 100% of the content intact.
I’m not the only designer/developer who’s been paid a few dollars to fix such messes as part of a redesign contract. While it’s a relief to get everything fixed and move forward, I also feel strongly that such a scenario shouldn’t happen at all. A standards-based approach that also provides flexibility for content can make a huge difference in the long run.
One of the reasons why Macromedia’s Dreamweaver MX series stands out so much is the company’s work toward providing WYSIWYG convenience while also improving their support for W3C Recommendations to create better, more standards-based markup behind the scenes. They also provide support for U.S. 508 Guidelines and W3C Accessibility Guidelines. They’re on the right track, and I applaud them for their efforts.
Let Macromedia know what you’d like in their software via their page, Macromedia Software Feature Request and Bug Report.