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I'm trying to figure out what the benefit to having a WYSIWYG HTML editor over hard coding, outside of, say, accessibility. It seems like a waste of time to learn how to use something like Dreamweaver over Notepad++. Am I missing something here? Every time I've ever used one, I end up going back into the code to fix the problems the visual editor made.

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Are you only referring to WYSIWYG HTML editors, or are you referring to all graphical GUI builders? –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 20 '12 at 15:41
    
I guess mostly HTML editors. I'm not familiar with too many editors which can parse through includes and style sheets on the fly. –  ryan.riverside Jun 20 '12 at 15:42
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While learning it's definitely better to use smth like notepad++. I think it's great if writing in a simple text editor is easier than using a graphical GUI builder. That's how I wrote for Android. –  superM Jun 21 '12 at 12:09
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6 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

This is a changing space, every tool has its place in a professional's toolbox, it takes a true professional to know when each tool is appropriate to use.

That said, not all tools are made the same, Dreamweaver was cutting edge a decade ago, there are better tools today. Tools like Flux and even Coda are invaluable for rapidly developing high quality code and debugging tedious things like cross browser CSS things. Not to mention the time they save with auto-completetion of the CSS and HTML tags and attributes.

If you aren't using a tool that does syntax highlighting and autocompletion for Javascript you are wasting time as well.

Anyone still arguing that they are more effient with a plain text editor isn't any better than a mechanic that only has a single adjustable wrench and says "they don't have time" to master the appropriate tools because they are "too busy". They are "too busy" working in-efficiently and wasting time.

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I sometimes use WYSIWYG editor for my internal or personal webpages when I've been melting my brains on a production site and am so over seeing < and >. WYSIWYG or OOWriter means it gets done at all versus "F that, I'm going home to drink beer"...

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WYSIWYG editors are not designed for the competent coder with plenty of time, as it were. They are designed to knock out prototypes or for designers who cannot code.

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I always use Photoshop or Indesign to knock out mock-ups, but that makes sense. Coding for the non-coder. –  ryan.riverside Jun 20 '12 at 15:40
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I think you are a bit harsh on WYSIWYG editors, I would much rather have a competent developer spend his lots of time on real development problems, not hacking together CSS and HTML to get the layout right –  Ryathal Jun 20 '12 at 15:44
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@Ryathal: Obviously you just don't feel that "plenty of time" is a particularly high barrier. It doesn't change the fundamental semantics. –  DeadMG Jun 20 '12 at 16:12
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I've always used WYSIWYGs for the extraneous tools rather than the coding tools. My preference was always Dreamweaver because it came with built-in ftp. It has a whole bunch of snippet add-ons and extra junk, but the 3 things that made it the most powerful for me was line numbers (which I think Notepad++ has), integrated ftp/site definition settings, and multiple line/multiple file find and replace.

I actually had more problems when I inherited a site that was built with Dreamweaver using all of the built-in snippets than I've ever had with sites that don't use them.

As for the visual editor, the only time I ever use that is when my code is exhibiting a weird rendering behavior because of something I did. Sometimes the visual editor will help pinpoint the problem. But once the problem is pinpointed, back to the code I go.

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I like Dreamweaver as well because you can hand code it or do a small insert then clean up the code to give you the best of both worlds. The Built in ftp client is one of the nicer features. Have not used it since I changed everything to linux and sftp though.

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WYSIWYG editors can be useful for things like building quick tentative designs or for borrowing bits and pieces of code, but actual html coding with intimate knowledge of how to program without a wysiwyg is very necessary to complete advanced work. Other answers mentioned how necessary it is to use programs with autocompletion and other helpful shortcuts will help you be more efficient. I personally found Sublime Text 2 to work very well when programming web-pages and even in programming languages like ruby or python.

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