The truth about web page editors
- There are web page editors out there that don't require you to know a darn thing about HTML. They're called "WYSIWYG" editors, short for What You See Is What You Get, and all you have to do is point, click, drag, and the usual things you do with an editor. You'll never see a single HTML tag when you use these editors (though the better ones let you see the HTML code if you insist).
- Some are better than others. In the realm of automobiles, there are Porsches and Trabants. There are violins made in Cremona and violins made in Calcutta. It would be remarkable if, unlike every other field of human endeavor, there weren't both bad and good web page editors. And, sure enough, there are.
- Bad web page editors make bad web pages. You used to
be able to find web page editors that would produce glorious, bulletproof
web pages but they had a user interface that made you want to hunt down
the designer and chop him into small pieces with a dull axe. Nowadays,
all the WYSIWYG editors have a pretty decent user interface. The
difference is that the bad ones produce some real bow-wows for web pages.
But as long as the pages look OK in the most popular Web browsers, who cares? The conventional wisdom used to be, "Nobody cares," and you saw horrors on the web that you'd show to a web page validator, and the next thing you know, that poor little validator was off in the corner somewhere, sobbing uncontrollably. But the popular web browsers sorta displayed them OK. Site owners were happy. Web surfers were happy. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. Then one day, web site owners opened their mail, and there was the bill! Web site owners discovered that...
- Bad web pages are fragile, cranky, and impossible to maintain. If you look at the source and there seems to be ten times as much markup as there is content, you're in trouble. If you see HTML tags that are completely indecipherable, you're in more trouble. If you can't tell what all that ten tons of elephant dung in your web page does, you're in biiiiiig trouble. Fire up your web page editor and try to edit the web page you last worked on six months ago, or try to edit it with a different web page editor: oops! Microsoft (etc.) just released a new browser. Oh noooooo!
Well, help is on the way. But you're going to have to learn some simple HTML.
Now stop before you bolt out the door. I'm talking simple HTML. Basic stuff. All I'm going to ask you to do is keep an eye on your HTML, look at it every now and then, and make sure it stays simple.