Jun
16
2002

Notepad Vs. WYSIWYG


I had this brief little online discussion the other day with a friend, with him implying Notepad as being the text editor of choice by those who “know their HTML stuff” … what a bunch of bull.

First of all, Notepad is an entry level editor. It’s just a big white screen where you can type code. There’s nothing advanced about it. There isn’t even a color legend for tags and variables, which makes editing much more convenient. Yet one might say “if you want something convenient then it means you don’t know how to distinguish HTML tags from text.” Yet again, another stupid little argument. That’s like saying Copy and Paste is also a sign of HTML ineptness coz it makes things “easier”.

Let’s assume you know the code, from the inside out, and you can code a complex XML-powered form handler with your eyes closed and one hand tied behind your back. Does it justify your “expertise” with the code by typing all of it from the ground up? I mean, you may know the code, but it’s utterly foolish to try and reinvent the wheel.

Notepad, in my mind, has two users: the ones who are trying to learn HTML for the first time, and the purists, who think HTML editors and WYSIWYG editors are the spawn of Satan. And mind you, most of these purists do not work on an enterprise level project, or even a commercial level project for that matter. Ask any seasoned web developer or web designer who has had more than five years experience if he still uses Notepad. The logical answer would be a “hell no”, sometimes followed by a small snicker.

Those who use Notepad because they try to “pose” as elite web designers by reinventing the wheel everytime they do some coding are a sad example of how this misconception has taken root. Even code crackers use a third party program to modify code – so where did this notion originate that those who use Notepad are 1337 hax0rs? I really don’t know.

I shudder at the thought of coding a complex table structure in Notepad. Not because I can’t do it, but because of the tediousness of it. How many repeated <tr>’s and <td>’s would it take for one to realize that Notepad is the most INEFFICIENT way to do web sites? And all this just to come out and pose as a 1337 hax0r? Pathetic.

One thing is for sure, though – anyone who has a resumé that only includes “Notepad” as their preferred web design tool will be easilly passed up for someone else who knows how to use industrial strength, e-commerce-level editors. Yeah, this includes WYSIWYG editors, too. Apply for a web design job and the first thing they ask is if you know either Dreamweaver or FrontPage. Granted these programs can add extraneous tags to your work, but it’s much easier to clean up code than to painstakingly type it out … one tag at a time.

I have said it once, and I will say it again – what matters is the quality of your output, not the tools you used to achieve it. People don’t ask you what you used to build your page – they only care about your final product…


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