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Re: Web Design programs?

On Thu, 8 Jul 1999, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord wrote:
>     One of my projects for the summer is to put together a website
> promoting my teaching and publishing efforts in making books in with
> children. I know a lot of list members have sites and would appreciate
> some advice. I am in the midst of an online course through a local
> community college on html but will be using a design program to create
> the site. I'd appreciate your recommendations.  I'm looking for a
> program that is easy to use and not too expensive. Quark XPress is the
> design program I'm familiar with. Thanks in advance.

Oh! If you're taking a course in HTML, then all I can say is... welcome to
the world of *real* web design!<g> ;)

Seriously, that's definitely the way to go, HTML is so easy to learn, it
allows you complete control over the structure of your pages and allows you
to do things *so* much better than any WYSIWYG editor (like FrontPage or
Pagemill) can, and WYSIWYG editors do little more than give you code that
does *not* validate, isn't truly cross-browser/cross-platform compatible
(even creating codes that don't even exist in the HTML specs!), and is such
a total mess to wade through when you do have to "get in there" yourself
that it becomes a nightmare to do so. And because of all that, of course,
the file sizes of your HTML docs are pretty well always bigger, which means
slower download times (which isn't *that* big of a deal, of course, since
HTML files are generally quite small anyway... unless you've got a page
with a large amount of text/formatting in it). FrontPage, in particular, is
notorious for being the most incredibly buggy WYSIWYG editor around.

(WYSIWYG = "What You See Is What You [DON'T] Get", ;) in case you don't
know what that acronym means).

To put it in a Book-Arts-ish way, you might think of it as the difference
between binding your own books by hand, where you get to know your work
*intimately*, know and understand every part of the process from beginning
to end, you know your creation inside out and backwards, and if you do it
well then you know that your books will stand the test of time. On the
other hand, using a WYSIWYG editor is kinda like using a machine to bind
your books (from beginning to end), kinda like throwing in a bunch of pages
at one end and having it come out as a "book" at the other end, and if
anything goes wrong you're left totally clueless as to what that might be
(unless you happen to be a "book binding machine mechanic", or, when it
comes to web design, you really know your HTML well, too, and are willing
to wade through the disastrous code that your WYSIWYG editor created).

Sorry for being so elitist. ;) I guess what I'm saying is that WYSIWYG
editors are fine if web design isn't really of too much concern to you,
sort-of like if you were happy with having your latest novel come out in
only a perfect-bound paperback edition, but if good quality and a "healthy"
structure, cross-browser/cross-platform compatibility and truly exquisite
design are of importance to you, then creating your HTML files "by hand" is
most certainly the way to go.

Enough ranting, though.<g> ;) As for what to do your HTML coding in, well,
if price is an important consideration, then, um, how 'bout FREE?! If
you're on Windows, you can just do your coding in Windows Notepad (you can
find the .exe file for that in your C:\WINDOWS directory); if you're on
Mac, then you can just do it in Simpletext.  You can also do it in any
other word processing program you have (Word, WordPerfect, etc.) -- just be
sure to save it as a DOS text file, of course (otherwise it won't work at

By far the best program, by far, that has been design specifically for HTML
coding is Homesite (see <http://www.allaire.com>). That program (Windows
only) is most assuredly an HTML coders dream come true, and you can get it
for about $100 or so. For Mac, I *think* that BBEdit is still the best HTML
editing program around -- but I'm not sure about that one -- although I
feel sorry for you if you're on a Mac, cuz no program that I've ever seen
or used, for either platform, comes close to Homesite's capabilities.

As for the graphics end of things, well, no program in this world comes
close to Photoshop, of course. It's rather expensive, though (but
*definitely* worth the money, if you can afford it -- you won't be sorry!),
and if that's a factor, and you're on Windows, then Paint Shop Pro is a
really good substitute. If you're on Mac, I have no idea what lower-end
graphics programs are out there (sorry).

That's really about it. There's tons of other programs that you can pick up
as you go along -- lots of them for free off of the 'net -- to help you
with little specific things here and there, but I would definitely say that
Homesite (or BBEdit) and a good graphics program (preferable Photoshop) are
all that you really *need* to create web pages -- and you can even get away
with not using an HTML editor at all, as I said, you can just do all your
coding yourself in Windows Notepad (or Mac's Simpletext).

Anyway, enough babbling, back to work for me. ;)

Hope that helps!

Ron :)

Psymon's Web Bindery -> http://www.psymon.com
Digital Art: like, Beat, y'dig?-> http://www.psymon.com/art/
Psymon's Theatre and Music Hall-> http://www.psymon.com/music/
A Letter To An Imaginary Friend-> http://www.psymon.com/letter/
Sterling Moon Specialty Coffees-> http://www.sterlingmoon.com

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