Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or something else?

Alright, there was a recent thread on here about content managent-oriented web design tools. Now I’m looking for a plain, ordinary old WYSIWYG web tool not for a blog/fresh content site. i.e. I want to use it to build a company web site that’s moderately static. But the design tool needs to support good, well, design - i.e. nice graphics and layout tools, support for CSS or Javascript for things like mouse rollover buttons, etc. And easy to use would be nice. I have a copy of Frontpage 2003, but was not entirely please with it last time I used it. Dreamweaver is a candidate, but expensive and I hate Macromedia’s U.I. in Flash, and I hear Dreamweaver is similar.


I’d say Dreamweaver is the best of the bunch, though you have to be careful with WYSIWYG editors as they tend to add code sometimes. Frontpage is garbage.

What didn’t you like about Frontpage?

Well, it’s not incredibly intuitive, and it has a nasty habit of adding extra code that can really screw files up, in my experience. I use homesite myself, which is a straight on text editor.

I meant Phil, so I could get a better sense of what might fit his needs. But, yeah, I hear that all the time about WYSIWYG editors, Frontpage in particular.

Frontpage adds a ton of code (like Word), extensions, and other garbage you probably wouldn’t need in a million years, making the page generally horribly inflated and inefficient.

Coincidentally HomeSite has basically been integrated into the MX series, so in Dreamweaver MX 2004 for instance you can choose a text edit mode which includes most of the general nice functionality of HomeSite. Dreamweaver also can strip out a lof extraneous Frontpage tags.

Of course, with Adobe buying Macromedia, Dreamweaver may not be around for much longer.

— Alan

I use Dreamweaver because it produces better pages but to be honest, Frontpage is a lot easier to use.

I use Dreamweaver because it produces better pages but to be honest, Frontpage is a lot easier to use and there are times I long to go back to it.

Frontpage hasn’t been updated in 2 years, and it’s design feels like it was set about 4 years ago. So a lot of features that are standarad on modern web sites aren’t supported natively by Frontpage.

Conversely, some of Frontpage’s key features for good looking sites (like Active Graphics in their themes), don’t really work any more, as they now trigger warnings in a modern version of I.E. and Win XP SP 2, so you can’t use them without massively annoying your users.

I suggested Macromedia Contribute to BaconTastesGood in a similar thread; wasn’t a good fit for him, but might be for you. They have a 30-day trial download available.

(Personally, I’m a Dreamweaver kind of guy m’self)

I mentioned this to Phil privately already, but I’ll state it “for the record”.

I don’t think you can really build a high quality Web site using a WYSIWYG editor – I know, I’ve tried. I’ve used every WYSIWYG one out there, and if you get one that is truly easy to use (i.e. drag-and-drop) you tend to suffer from some significant problems:
[li]inability to edit code directly
[/li][li]reliance on technologies that you might feel are too poorly supported
[/li][li]proprietary scripts/backend technologies
[/li][li]use of a few generic templates, which is limiting
More directly, I think one of the biggest problems is that building a Web site just flat out involves learning CSS and XHTML at the very least. DreamWeaver is mislabeled as a “Web site builder”, because a lot of people think they can avoid learning XHTML/CSS by using a tool.

And you just can’t. CSS and HTML have too many weird issues that I just don’t see it being possible to sketch a site with a tool and it automatically.

Throw PHP/MySQL into the mix and fuggedaboutit. I use DW (which I abhor, passionately) right now as an editor primarily for its syntax coloring and site maintenance (upload, etc.) features. I’m sorely tempted to switch to Eclipse + CuteFTP for this though, since DW’s text editing interface is crap*.

  • by crap, I mean limited configurability of keyboard, no emacs keybindings, and a search UI that is quite possibly the worst ever devised by man

I’ll weigh in to the “anything but Frontpage” camp… It’s awful, don’t use it.

Dreamweaver is good as far as WYSIWYG goes. Lots of designers I know use that combined with Adobe Imageready or Fireworks for the graphics side.

And yes, obviously knowing how to get in and do the actual code is very helpful.

I’ve used Imageready, and it’s not bad at all. I’ll still go with DW as a WYSIWYG editor if I had to use one. I’ll say that a plain text editor is the best way to edit pages, IMO. I have to edit pages all the time, and I constantly run into sites that have the stupid “noneditable” attribute on them, for example. While DW and other WYSIWYG editors won’t let you touch this stuff, a good text editor like homesite, ultraedit, notepad pro, and so on will let you play to your hearts content. ;)

I’ll chime in here in favor of the text editor option. Dreamweaver is a good starting point, I think, and has some nice CSS design options, plus it gives you a rough estimate of what everything will look like immediately. It suffers from that usual “Macromedia got sued by Adobe over an interface patent, and to comply with the court order, they had to make all of their programs completely obnoxious to use” problem that Flash has.

If you have access to a Macintosh, there is no better text editor than BBEdit. It’s amazingly powerful, friendly to HTML, PHP, Perl, whathaveyou, and it’s the only thing I use to make my appalling, horribly designed pages. But at least, my pages’ shortcomings are my own, rather than some program’s.

Frontpage is crap. It outputs files that make web servers shit themselves, and it’s site controls were designed by retarded monkeys infected with the clap.

For those who hate WYSIWYG editors, like BaconTastesGood and me,
there’s Quanta for Linux, BSD and so on, or PHP Designer 2005 for Win32.

(Issues exist with WinXP 64 for the latter)

Quanta Plus:
Syntax highlighting works like it should, toolbars cover a good set of
tags for (X)HTML, UTF-8 support is good. Multi-line tag blocks can also
be collapsed. Tags can be edited very easily with the attribute editor in
the sidepanel. Documentation for PHP, HTML and CSS is available inside
the program.

FTP support is very good, both upload and download. Setting up the
project had me a bit confuzzled, as you are able to work on the FTP
as a local directory. I feel safer keeping local files and uploading, though,
as I might also use Subversion for version control.

PHP Designer 2005:
Mainly geared at PHP users, but provides starting points for typing up
(X)HTML, CSS, XML, SQL, Perl, JavaScript, VisualBasic, C# and Java.

XHTML support is a bit weak, with some minor bugs. Its strength is the
Libraries panel, where you can select functions from a fairly extensive
list. Hop around the forums to look for the user-supplied patch to add
ADODB support to this list. Similar library lists also exist for HTML, CSS
and specific databases. UTF-8 support forthcoming.

FTP support is pretty simplistic. Pretty much the only complaint users
have about the state of the program.

Both products are stable quality products, and worth using if you’re willing
to learn the actual markup/code. Why wouldn’t you? ;)

I work as a sys admin on a large Air Force base and was recently tasked to design a new website for my organization. So I installed Frontpage and after a day or two playing with it promptly uninstalled the PoS and decided to just learn HTML and CSS. Notepad is now my primary web design tool.

Just found a new open source one – installed it, haven’t really used it much yet, but it looks reasonably capable at first glance: Nvu. Versions available for mac, linux, windows, etc. Based off Mozilla Composer, apparently.

IMO, the best non-homesite HTML editor I’ve used is HTML Kit.

I finally ditched DreamWeaver today – that was money poorly spent – and have switched 100% to using Eclipse. Eclipse is so much better for editing XHTML, CSS, and PHP code that I’m just amazed DreamWeaver can survive.

The clincher was getting off my ass and writing a shell script to rsync my files up to a server cleanly. This is way more powerful than the SFTP integration that DreamWeaver offers, and I can finally avoid all of DW’s crazy UI issues and generally poor design.

If I can be forgiven for introducing a tangent, what’s the difference between HTML and XHTML? I feel I know HTML (and CSS) moderately well --certainly well enough to get the job done-- but I’m not sure if there’s any advantage to learning more about XHTML.