Hand-Coding HTML

webBoing Boing has a little write-up about how NYTimes.com hand-codes its HTML. I'd link to the NYTimes.com article, but you have to register to read it.

I've been hand-coding all my HTML and CSS for a decade now, and I doubt I'll ever do it any other way. Over the years I've tried the design part of Dreamweaver and other wysiwyg HTML editors, but the control I'd sacrifice always reminded me how much faster and effective it is to hand-code.

About five-years ago I wrote about this subject, but I'd like to modify my opinion since then. I still love the control, take pride in the accomplishment and find the entire process to be rather romantic, but I've learnt hand-coding and Movable Type can coexist for optimal performance. The HTML and CSS is still hand-coded, but a sweet CMS like Movable Type can do all the heavy lifting for you. It's thinking smarter instead of harder.

Khoi Vinh, the Design Director of NYTimes.com, says the following:

It’s our preference to use a text editor, like HomeSite, TextPad or TextMate, to “hand code” everything, rather than to use a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) HTML and CSS authoring program, like Dreamweaver. We just find it yields better and faster results.

I couldn't agree more.

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I read this post...And I honestly tried hard to understand. I even tried to relate to your passion for hand coding (whatever that is), and after 15 minutes of pushing myself to the outer limits (you could compare it to David Blaine breaking the record for longest underwater breath holding today on Oprah at 17 minutes), I still only read, "Wohh Wohh Wohh Wohh Wohh Wohh." I'm sorry. I tried.

April 30, 2008 @ 5:58 PM


Coming from a C/C++ background, it's not a big surprise that I agree with you except for one small thing. Dreamweaver is still extremely useful in its "code view". It's syntax highlighting, indentation, built-in (X)HTML and CSS validation, etc come in extremely handy and take a lot of the tediousness out of writing HTML. I do all my PHP using Ultra-Edit, but if I ever need to edit templates and such, Dreamweaver all the way. :)

April 30, 2008 @ 7:34 PM

Toronto Mike

Daniel, I agree. Dreamweaver is a great text editor. I should point out my beef with Dreamweaver is with the "Design" tab, not the "Code" tab.

April 30, 2008 @ 7:46 PM


Ultra-Edit... a grand editor to say the least :)

I edited my entire site by hand, php and eveything, with the exception of 'borrowing' some CSS and modifying site to look better using that, and eventually adding a few widgets here and there... and the majority of edits were done in VI, a tool I use quite a bit when working on C/C++.

May 1, 2008 @ 12:54 AM

James Edgar

I just took over as webmaster for my riding club. I am a nerd of sorts but I'm a backend nerd who deals with hardware(servers SANS backup tape drive etc. ) I've never coded anything to speak of and my collage programimng classes were decades ago and I just barly passed. My brain just can't deal with coding for some reason. Ok I can script for Windows but that's not the same.
So the pint of all this is can anybody suggest a decent WYSIWYG page builder that I can get up to speed quickly with until I can properly learn Dreamweaver? I have a copy of Dreamweaver MX i can use.

May 1, 2008 @ 10:10 AM

Toronto Mike

As far as I'm concerned, it's okay to borrow CSS. As long as you're not stealing a look and feel without crediting the author, CSS is meant to be shared.

I borrowed the flavour of my masthead above from Spacing.ca but I asked them permission before I did it. They weren't just cool with it, they send me their font and official colour too.

As for a good WYSIWYG editor, I've heard horror stories about Frontpage and better stories about Dreamweaver, but I'll let someone with actual WYSIWYG experience chime in with a good recommendation.

May 1, 2008 @ 10:28 AM

James Edgar

Just after posting I started Dreamwaever and am suddenly able to use it. Not coding of course but my page is coming together nicly. I'll buy dreamwaever for dummies later today and I'll be hand coding too in no time!

May 1, 2008 @ 10:56 AM

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