I’ve been using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for over a decade. I’ve dabbled with InDesign and even Adobe Flash back in the day. And there’s one thing I’ve come to expect when using Adobe design software: the tools palette — that thing that sits off to the side offering up easy option selection for newbie designers before finger muscles memorize keyboard shortcuts.
But the ubiquitous palette was sadly lacking when I launched Dreamweaver.
I was fully expecting to be able to draw a rectangle 1500px by 500px and assign it a header tag. I was anticipating typing up content in a textbox and being able to place it wherever I wanted. The common misconception with WYSIWYG programs, like Dreamweaver, is that you don’t need to know HTML or CSS to use them.
I clearly had my own misconceptions.
I was expecting to see the familiar Adobe design layout, to be able to manipulate objects like in Illustrator. I had to change my way of thinking. Instead of viewing Dreamweaver as a WYSIWYG web editor, I started to think of it more as a development environment. I switched my view to split, so I could have the code on one side and the design output on the other and started banging out code the old fashioned way. I did venture into the properties panel for 0.5 seconds and quickly found all that clicking was more time consuming than typing code — because Dreamweaver is smart. The moment you open a tag, it’s already guessing and giving you options to speed up your coding, and once you’ve selected a tag, it has the closing one ready — all you have to do is fill out the stuff in between. Another feature I found helpful in Dreamweaver was the color selection. Instead of puling up color charts online or guessing at RGB color combinations, Dreamweaver pulls up a mini web-safe colors palette from which to select — definitely a huge plus when it came to styling my webpage.
I called this post WYSI(not always)WYG — What You See Is (not always) What You Get — because, if I had to fault Dreamweaver for anything, it would be that the live view isn’t exactly accurate. I think calling it “live view” is a bit misleading — you always, always, always want to check your site in multiple browsers to see how it renders. Don’t blindly trust live view. I almost fell down that rabbit hole using Dreamweaver for the first time. Luckily I decided to launch Chrome just to see how my site really looked before ripping my hair out over a sizing issue I noticed in live view.
Overall, I found writing code in Dreamweaver to be pretty fun and efficient! Maybe as I progress and get more comfortable with it, I’ll try making a webpage strictly in design view (and maybe pick up a few more keyboard shortcuts).