If you’re fortunate enough to have access to the Adobe Creative Suite, or you’ve recently purchased a subscription to their new cloud-based software, you may have worked with Dreamweaver, Adobe’s coding and website creation software. For many web development newbies, Dreamweaver seems to be near the top of the list of must-know software, but from our point of view, you’re better off spending those hours learning more about coding free-hand than deciphering the ins and outs of this over-complicated software. Here’s why…
Dreamweaver’s biggest selling point is its WYSIWYG (pronounced whizz-ee-wig) or What You See Is What You Get editor. Basically, you’ve got a split screen where one half is your code and the other half is a browser-like rendering of your current code. The problem is that the WYSIWYG editor isn’t a browser, and even the most careful coder who relies on it will need to make adjustments once they pull the website up in a live environment.
The software also features file management, pre-made templates, and code suggestion capabilities (so you type “text-a” and it guesses that you mean “text-align”), which can help someone who hasn’t memorized all the HTML and CSS properties.
So at its core, Dreamweaver is a text editor and a file manager – and a very expensive one at that. Now that you can’t buy Adobe software to install on your hard drive and it’s all in the cloud, their monthly subscription just for Dreamweaver is $20 a month, or $240 a year.
But that’s not where the problems end. Dreamweaver automatically changes coding (which sometimes you really don’t want), puts CSS in the page header, creates clunky websites, packs in tons of useless features, and takes up a much bigger chunk of processing power than anyone could need a text editor to do. Worst of all, it makes for lazy coders. It’s so much more important for a web developer to know how to free-hand code and build a file structure themselves than rely on this software. So save yourself some time and money and try one of these instead:
Text Wrangler (Mac or PC)
If lightweight is what you’re after, look no further. This dead simple (and FREE) text editor isn’t packing all those bells and whistles, but if you can code successfully in this software, you’re ready for the world!
TextMate (Mac) or E Text Editor (PC)
Another simple but powerful editor, both of these programs also feature code checking, suggestion, and file management. It’s definitely more featured-rich than Text Wrangler, but won’t leave you dependent on its interface like Dreamweaver can. TextMate is $53, but E Text Editor is free!
CoffeeCup (Mac or PC)
Like Dreamweaver, CoffeeCup’s text editor includes a validation tool for checking your code, a file manager, and pre-made templates to use as a jumping off point for your website. The interface is pretty slick too, and at only $69 (and that’s a one time fee), your wallet will be much happier, too.
Now go forth and code!