“Hate” is a word that I don’t use very often in the professional world. All too often this word is thrown around in casual conversation, and as a result it tends to lose the serious intensity and deliberate animosity intended by its definition. The word “hate” needs to be reserved in one’s vocabulary for people, places and things which truly deserve special attention. (My friends at Two and a Hater would probably agree.)
Dreamweaver sucks, and I hate it.
First, a small disclaimer: this post is directed at all visual web development tools. Dreamweaver happens to be the best known and most widely used application within this group, so my frustration and hate is rightly directed in its direction. These tools can be helpful to properly trained web professionals, but the fact is that most Dreamweaver users rely far too heavily on the visual tools and thus write terrible code.
Do a Google search for I hate Dreamweaver and you’ll get 172,000 results. It’s obvious that I’m not alone in my opinion, yet many thousands of companies and web developers continue to turn to tools like Dreamweaver to build and maintain their websites. This is a bad decision on a number of levels.
- Dreamweaver is for sissies. My biggest complaint against Dreamweaver is that most users will “write” their code using the visual tools. With little or no understanding of what they’re actually doing, the “developers” drag-and-drop tables, widgets, and god-only-knows what else onto a page and publish it to the web. While this sounds like a good idea in theory (anyone can build a website!), the reality is that the end-result is an unstable piece of garbage. Dreamweaver doesn’t teach the developer anything about good coding practices, and it undermines the idea that well-trained web development professionals should be paid appropriately for their skills.
- Dreamweaver generates terrible code. When I say that the end-result of Dreamweaver site is an unstable piece of garbage, I mean that the code Dreamweaver generates is not even close to W3C compliant. This is a really big deal because the worst-case scenario (which happens on a regular basis) is that your website doesn’t work in different browsers. When I look at the source code for a webpage, I can tell within about five seconds if it was written in Dreamweaver. It’s so obvious when I see things like FONT tags in about 700 places. . . any good web developer would be using CSS to control that.
- Dreamweaver encourages bad habits. Speaking of CSS, Dreamweaver encourages you to put CSS definitions in the page itself. From an architectural standpoint, this is just plain dumb – but since Dreamweaver makes no attempt to teach developers how to propertly structure a website, I’m not at all surprised. What’s worse is that this bad habit has a negative impact on how fast a webpage loads, so in effect Dreamweaver is making your website suck. If you have large website, magnify this problem (and similar situations) exponentially and you can see how bad it might get. Your visitors will get tired of waiting for your crappy site to load and leave.
- Dreamweaver loves PHP. PHP isn’t evil, but don’t get me started on how some developers think PHP/MySQL applications are the only solution to the world’s problems. I’ll save that rant for another post.
Here’s a real-world example. I just spent 7 hours rebuilding a page written by a PHP developer who uses Dreamweaver. His PHP code was average, but the HTML was so bad that I had to scrap it altogether. It is so obvious that he didn’t know what he was doing, and it really bothers me that I had to spend an entire day rewriting his code. Furthermore, the client is getting billed twice (his hours plus mine) for essentially the same work because I couldn’t make what should have been a simple fix to a handful of lines of HTML and CSS.
The bottom line is that I hate Dreamweaver. I hate the poor code it creates. And I’m making it my personal mission to discourage its use everywhere I go.