A question for professionals

  Rogerfredo 09:16 29 May 2004

As a secondary teacher, I am required to give pupils a basic understanding of HTML.
We then go on to use Microsoft Publisher to design a simple website.
I understand that Publisher is not very efficient at compiling HTML,and the resulting web pages are slower to load than a "professional" page.
My question is this, do professional web site designers use a WYSIWYG program to design their sites, or do they actually use HTML?
If they use a compiler, what are the best programs to use?

  Jarvo 10:03 29 May 2004


The Answer is both, a professional will use WYSIWYG to build the pages and then maualy edit the code where reqired. Predominately Dreamweaver is the package of choice but also MS Frontpage and NetFusion are used by many. I would recomend FrontPage if you wish to use a WYSIWYG package, it has familiar MS menus so your students will soon pick up the basics and you may also have the licences as part of your schools educational licence.

  Rogerfredo 10:21 29 May 2004

Thanks Jarvo for your prompt reply.

  Talented Monkey 11:09 29 May 2004

Anything to increase productivity is a bonus in any industry , same applies to programming. A lot of people now use HTML Editors as a tool to simply speed up the code generation and therefore save a lot of time over hand coding, particularly if you can not type fast!. E.g. the code for creating a table, which includes bulleted lists of items, can be produced a lot quicker using an editor. The programmer can then just alter any imperfections or strip out extra lines as necessary, and then paste it into a page of code. Before you use any editor for programming in this way, it is essential to learn HTML properly and be able to “code by hand” ( type it in manually) first.

One pet hate of mine are the so called professional cowboy web developers, who do not even know how the basic tags work, let alone what a meta tags or doctype are, who think they can do this for a living, all because they managed to create a personal homepage car wreck by simply dropping a few things into a WYSIWYG editor. What is more scary is that companies actually hire them! Anyway I think this is turning into a rant and off topic so ill take a few deep breathes and continue!

Certainly you should teach your class the basics of html and get them to hand type a few simple pages into something like notepad, once they understand how these things work then you can move on to using an editor. Hopefully then can then manipulate the code generated and understand what is being produced rather than looking like an alien language.

  Gaz 25 13:15 29 May 2004



<title>Test page</head>


<p><font color='red'>This is a red paragraph</font></p>



Start with the above... and work up on that, adding images, menu's, meta tags, and all the stuff you wish to teach.

Good luck.

  Forum Editor 18:44 29 May 2004

for a good few years, and people seem prepared to pay me to do it so maybe that qualifies me as a 'professional'. I have certainly earned a fair proportion of my income from web site design for the past ten years.

Most people in my position learned HTML because when we first started working on the web there wasn't anything else. As the technology developed WYSIWYG applications came along, and they have gradually improved until now it's perfectly possible to design a very good site indeed without knowing a thing about HTML. The WYSIWYG editors have made it possible to do in hours what would take days by hand-coding, and very few modern data-driven sites would ever get off the ground if they had to be hand-coded. Clients just wouldn't pay for the time it would take. If you have time to teach HTML to your pupils by all means do so, it will enable them to fine-tune the code that the WYSIWYG program produces, but don't think that it's essential.

The latest version of FrontPage (2003) is every bit as good as Dreamweaver in many areas, and much better in some - it's horses for courses.

My own view about teaching web design is that it's just as important to instil basic design principles (use of colour/images/good navigation etc.) and the essentials of how the internet works as it is to teach the nuts and bolts of how to handle the WYSIWYG software. My (admittedly limited) experience of running tutorial sessions for young people is that they pick up the software remarkable easily - it's the ethics and concepts that take longer.

  Rogerfredo 09:52 30 May 2004

Thanks again for all advice.
Time is precious when teaching ICT in school, and I was hoping for the sort of response that I got from the Editor.
I accept that, as in all walks of life, the specialists will be more inclined to a back to basics approach, and will produce a more polished product, but the average 14 year old will not have time to assimilate this info, (and as you will have guessed, I am not in a position to teach them!). All we can hope for is to "wet" their appetites.

  Taran 10:22 30 May 2004

I lecture in ICT subjects part time at a large college and one thing I always find is that a large proportion of students seem to try and dive right in with all kinds of Flash animations, JavaScript page effects and all sorts of other bells and whistles. Often they give little or no thought to a site theme, page text content, a message to get across or anything else.

I normally call it the Magpie effect: if it's shiny enough they want it and they automatically assume that the entire world will be terribly impressed with their cleverness.

This just more or less emphasises the points made by Forum Editor. Teaching appropriate design and use of page and site elements, from graphics to colour schemes through page layouts and good site navigation structure are arguably the areas you should concentrate in.

For example, there have been several threads posted in here that highlighted the problems of colourblindness in relation to web page colour schemes and you'd be surprised at just how large a proportion of a potential audience suffer from it (me for starters).

I find that most students grasp even the mighty Dreamweaver in short order if you give them accurate instruction on the basics. It's all about arming students with the right building blocks to allow them to progress. Give them that strong foundation and they usually find their own way with gentle encouragement and a nudge now and then.

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