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What is the best website develpoment software? And why?

Posted on 2001-07-21
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I am curious as to what website development software you think is the best one... and why (strengths/weaknesses of each product would be nice).
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Question by:LorangerG
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by:WebDevOne
ID: 6304867
I believe Frontpage 2000 is probably the best one I've worked with. Straight coding makes for slow productivity and no matter how long you do it, you really don't have a feel for the look you're creating. Frontpage 2000 has a lot of useful features built in which save you time but when you reach it's limitations (and you will) you can hard code your heart out. Plus Frontpage is the most widely used webdev software, so it's easier to find experienced webdevs. Frontpage does have a reputation for being hookey but it is mainly the opinion of experienced web developers (I have 7 years in now) who are trying to disassociate themselves with newbys, who can use the software pretty much from day 1.
Netobjects Fusion was another RAD tool I used for a couple of years. It saves you time but it doesn't have as many features as Frontpage.
I am eager to try Dreamweaver, I hear it's good too. But so little time...
This is one opinion.
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by:dorward
ID: 6304958
Frontpage is only the most commonly used software becuase (a) it is by Microsoft and (b) it comes with some versions of office. Most of its more advanced features require Extensions to be installed on the server, and I believe these are only available for IIS - possibly the most cracked webserver.

I'm of the opinion the the best web development software is Web Muffin Lite ( http://www.webmuffinlite.com/ )
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by:LorangerG
ID: 6304992

 I've never heard of muffin (yes, I live in a cave with a volley ball named Wilson!). What do you like or dislike about it?
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by:dorward
ID: 6305022
The total control you get from it. Download it, its very small, easy to remove, and free.
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by:webwoman
ID: 6306065
I use a variety of things... HomeSite, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Photoshop, FrontPage if it's needed -- and it's rarely 'needed' ;-)  There's a free code editor called FirstPage (www.evrsoft.com) that is very much like HOmeSite, and is excellent.

FrontPage is a disaster. ALL the WYSI(N)WYG editors are disasters. Not because you can't use them, but because they allow total newbies to do things that they have no business doing -- things that WILL break when they get published, or that won't work for a large part of their audience, and they have absolutely NO idea what's wrong or how to fix it.

They also don't really give you control -- they give the appearance of control. Then you open the page in the browser, find that it doesn't look exactly like you expected (sometimes not even close), and you fight FOR HOURS, possibly DAYS trying to fix it. When, if you knew how it actually worked, you could fix it in 5 minutes.

Dreamweaver is much better than FrontPage, because it doesn't put things in your code. But it still drives me nuts.

And yes, it will be slower AT FIRST. But when you start dealing with dynamically generated pages (which is really where you want to go for a large site), the WYSI(N)WYG editors will make your life a living hell. Most of my pages are now moving to server side includes, database backends, etc. You can't edit those in a WYSI(N)WYG editor -- you don't even SEE half the content.
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by:webwoman
ID: 6306074
You'll find that if you talk to most professional, large site developers, that the tools of choice are HomeSite/BBEdit (code editor), Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Photoshop (or PaintShop Pro). Possibly Flash, but that's far from necessary.

Basically, you need something to handle the code (HomeSite/BBEdit), something to rough stuff up fast and do some standard effects (Dreamweaver), and something to deal with graphics, mouseovers, imageswaps, etc. (Fireworks, Photoshop, PaintShop Pro).

It's not just one thing... there's no ONE tool.
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by:dorward
ID: 6306214
When it comes to graphics I rather line The GNU Image Manuipulation Program (http://www.gimp.org/ and http://www.gimp.org/win32 for Windows)
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by:dij8
ID: 6306428
As a developer the best software for web development BAR NONE is software that will not mess up your code by adding it's own variations on what you do.

When asked what I think is best I will say Notepad.  But a fat lot of good that is to anyone not using Windows. So it already has a flaw. And on top of that, I almost never use it. Why? Because it is not as convinient as others.

Which is best is really dependant on what you want to do, how you want to do it, how much time you have, how much money you have, what software you are already using (like OS), what hardware you are using (like platform and speed), what you already know, how your mind works (right brain, left brain, logical, artistic), your dexterity (both mental and physical), and many more things.

Under normal circumstances I will say stay away from FP at all costs (and pretty much any other MS "development" tool, like Word or PowerPoint), However, if you are a grandparent building your first (and probably only) web site with a bunch of photos of your grandchildren at the beach last summer and paragraghs about them then FP is perfect.

If you have no interest in HOW a web page works or doing anything other than some of the most basic of visual things then a wysi(n)wyg (lol webwoman) editor will be fine.

If you want ANY control on what is really happening, AND you want tidy code that is not over the top and eventually expensive bandwidth, AND/OR you want to achieve anything that requires server control (as in stuff that will NOT be seen) then you need a text editor. As I have said, Notepad is best (if you are on a Windows machine) because it is NOTHING BUT A TEXT EDITOR. However, you have no quick tools, syntax checking or help, colour coding for easy visual checking, search and replace tools (especially across multiple files and/or folders at once).

I almost solely use Homesite now.  But that is because it suits me and does pretty much everything I need it to. And I NEVER use the wysi(n)wyg part of it (I have in fact disabled that part). You are asking a question that is a matter of opinion.  Nobody will be right, or is that everybody will be right, because it is a matter of opinion. It is easy for me to discredit WebDevOne for suggesting FP when I hate it so much but where do I get off saying they are wrong? It is their opinion and therefore fair comment.

I can give you details on various software but first it is probably best to know what you want to achieve. And are you asking because you want to muck around at home or do you want to learn so you can get a high paying job or are you in business and suddenly need to do some web development but don't want to hire someone without first having stuff they can use?

There are too many variables to be able to give an honest and fair appraisal of any software. The questions that should be answered first are what sort of web development software do you want to use? And what are your strengths and weaknesses?
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by:ericpete
ID: 6306476
I'd side mostly with dij8, although I'm in webwoman's camp with regard to FrontPage. I used it once, found sixty gazillion things I can't stand about it, and shudder every time I hear of someone using it.

HomeSite (and most of Macromedia's programs) are pretty good, but the comment regarding the WYSIWYG programs is well taken.

I use a downloadable (from www.tucows.com) program called NoteTab, although I've used EditPlus and several others. Global search/replace, some spell-checking, a few tags, multiple files open at one time (I've had over 200 open at one time)...
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by:dij8
ID: 6306547
Don't get me wrong, I am not promoting FP in any way (unless you are a granny wanting to build your free web site of three Christmases ago when you got to see the grandchildren and give them all those red sweets just before you left).
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by:egbservices
ID: 6308325
I have got my humble html experience by useing the free NS4+ Composer for the initial setup of new pages. It's good for back ground colours or images, adding tables, align text, place images and the alt statement, targets, page links, font style and sizes, etc. But for JS code it's not very practical to use as it only displays an html tag containing the code in the 'correct' position.
But never the less once the page looks kind of ok. I continue with a text editor like Notepad. This gives me the possibility to add JS, Applet code, CGI, and all the meta stuff in the header plus much more. The free code editor FirstPage http://www.evrsoft.com comes with many very usefull JS examples and other usefull tools for designes who know only the basic stuff of JS.
So parallel to text editing the page in progress I sometimes look for a JS code in FirstPage, set it up, quickly test it and then cut and paste it accross into the page in progress in Notepad. Many JS codes consist of 2 parts anyway. The 'main' part in the header and the 'function' part somewhere inside the body. Simple WYSIWYG's just get confused by that.
I have also played with some CGI stuff. Yet again Notepad is the only program which lets me add the simple "method" lines quickly and even in the right places.
Also I try to make all my pages at least IE and NS compatible. A WYSIWYG program like FP adds much MS specific code and tends to ignore the existence of NS and other browsers and OS.
Sure Gill Bates's MS is a leader in the home user and small business marked hence IE, FrontPage, Outlook plus of course MS Office have become a so called "standard" in many small to medium size companies.
Regardless of that I am a firm believer that a good, international web site must be made compatible for all the main browsers and OS currently used.
I have yet to find the WYSIWYG program which addresses that and lets me code in a easy and simple fashion whitout having to spend more time learning the program than to create a pages.
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by:dij8
ID: 6308400
A valid point made by egbservices, rarely will a developer truly limit themselves to one product. As much as I mostly use HomeSite, I also use Notepad, MS Visual InterDev, and I use PhotoShop to do my graphics stuff. If I wanted to I could also use Flash. So I guess the real answer is;

THERE ISN'T A BEST WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT SOFTWARE.

Just combinations of what works best with the user and what they want to achieve.
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by:cheekycj
ID: 6308508
>I use a variety of things... HomeSite, Dreamweaver,
>Fireworks, Photoshop, FrontPage if it's needed --
>and it's rarely 'needed' ;-)  There's a free code editor
>called FirstPage (www.evrsoft.com) that is very much like
>HOmeSite, and is excellent.

Great list.

Having used all of the above except Fireworks, I would put my WebDevelopment SW in the following cats:
Design/WYSIWYG: DreamWeaver (or UltraDev)
Graphics: Photoshop (PaintShop Pro is decent for web graphics too)
HTML/JS Coding: HomeSite
Server Side Scripting: Depends on the language:
  ASP - UltraDev
  JSP - UltraDev
  Java Servlets- JBuilder or Together
  ColdFusion - CF Studio
  Perl/Php - NotePad/EditPad/Emacs whatever
Testing: NS 4 & 6, IE 4 & 5

So agreeing with what is stated above.. a combination of tools is needed.

CJ
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by:egbservices
ID: 6308590
I have also come to the conclusion that designing good web pages requires more than just a bit of HTML & JS knowledge. Web design and many other computer based trades have become more and more demanding. Like CAD, DTP, STL, 3D Modelling, Computer Graphics, etc. I believe Web Page Designing has reached the moment where you have to study it professionaly if you you want to be a successfull applicant. Even if you have a WYSIWYG software like FP on your home computer and your own Yahoo home page you are still far away from the professional Web designer world.
Many designs on the web are very bad, slow loading and graphically poor. The companies which use these sort of pages can be lucky that many surfers use a fibre optic connection and don't encounter the painfull download time.
If all the pages on the World Wide Web were professionaly designed your 33.6K modem would be more than adequate for fast surfing the net... ;-)
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by:raizon
ID: 6308598
I agree with dij8 mostly and with WebWoman in some aspects of frontpage.

I use primarily HomeSite and ColdFusion Studio for my primary development.  Once I get my sites onto the Development servers then I use Visual Interdev for my Application Development and FP for my Static Development(keep in mind that static sites area compleltly developed on my local machine in HomeSite before hitting FP).  So Why do I use FP?

As far as a Web Site Managment tool it is very usefull.  With FP I can publish Webs/Child Webs (You can't publish a child web using VS Interdev), Manage Permissions, and verify links, along with a few other nice adminsitrative tools.  In our environment we use FP Extensions purely for that reason.

I feel that anytool that allows you or helps you get the job done efficently and effectivly is a good tool.  Its the individual developers choice.  If a developer wants to use FP or DreamWeaver or any other WYSIWYG as his/her primary tool then that is their choice.  Quality Web Development always comes from the developer and not the tool.  

You can use FP with out it "messing" with your code, if you know the program.  Its not easy to do but is possible.

My advice...  Use what you are comfortable and stick to learning what the standards are (http://www.w3.org/) so that you can become a quality coder no matter the tool.
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by:bruno
ID: 6308801
I'll put in my vote for Homesite as well.

A few of the guys on my team also use MS InterDev, which i think i only saw mentioned once, and they love that for ASP coding.  Homesite has a lot of really great features that you won't see right away, but once you get to know the software its extra features are great!!

shared snippets being one of my favorites here at work so as to keep code the same, making it easier to edit in the future.

BRUNO
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Author Comment

by:LorangerG
ID: 6309282

Thank you for all your comments. I have been designing FP, with some Flash and Java Script for my site http://www.fredericktravel.com (no, I'm not a granny, I'm an IT Manager who used to program software for boeing (but I got a chuckle out of the comment)). Improving our website has become priority one. I want to get some feedback to help me decide whether I need to change tools before redesigning the site. I would love to see some of the sites you have all created and know which tools you used to make them.
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by:cheekycj
ID: 6309305
I think a navigation redesign would help eliminate a lot of the wasted space (esp near the top nav)

CJ
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by:LorangerG
ID: 6309349
Do you meant the navigation system at www.fredericktravel.com? The Java Nav bar only takes up 25 x 700 pixels. Or do you mean the blocky pictures on the left hands side (space fillers really)?
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by:cheekycj
ID: 6309370
I mean the navbar with:

Cruises
Special Tours etc..

It has a lot of whitespace above and to the right of it.

CJ
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by:LorangerG
ID: 6309390
Good point. The space is reserved for a Flash advertising banner that's in production.
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by:cheekycj
ID: 6309408
OK.. as long as the space is going to be put to use.. space is a limited comodity on the web :-)

I would make the border of the images in the navbar on the left 0 so they don't have that little blue border around them..

I don't understand the point of the first image on the top of the page.. Welcome to the world of....

It should be more descriptive of what you site and your business is about.  Mabe put a banner up there with your logo and company name.. and some contact info right up front. instead of having to scroll down to get the contact info.

I understand the point of the travel form but what if a user needs to contact you about something outside of the travel form... instead of having an email address with a mailto option .. (a lot of users don't have their email client configured right or use web based email) you should provide a contact form instead.

CJ
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by:bruno
ID: 6309453
set a bgcolor on the body of the page.....

lots of people forget to do that because most people (webdeb's included) use white as a default bgcolor for their browser so they don't notice when there isn't a bgcolor set....

the whole page reloads when i resize my browser....kinda annoying.

when i go from Special Tours to Specials, or from Travel Tips to Specials on the menu, the previous menu's are not closing.

no need to have your travel request open in a new window.

on your specials page, in the flash presentation, you should link the whole word, not just the green arrow.

that's just a few things i noticed...i didn't go very deep into the site.

www.sycamorenet.com
www.odsi-coalition.com

those are two of the latest, both done by taking a Photoshop mockup, slicing it in ImageReady, and doing the coding in Allaire Homesite.

BRUNO
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webwoman earned 50 total points
ID: 6311026
I wouldn't ever use Flash for ANY banner -- too many people who don't have (and don't want) the plugin. Use an animated GIF, which works for EVERYBODY.

Keep your navigation consistent -- I went to the condo page (why is that there?) and there was no navigation. Not good.

Don't use up all the top space with logos and banners. People want to see your CONTENT first -- and the navigation.

Get rid of the newsflash graphic, keep the pic of the pres, push the info, make the TV station logo smaller. Push YOUR business, not THEIRS.

The gradation isn't anchored to anything -- why is it there? Why is that type different?

People need a FOCUS -- and you've got lots of stuff with nothing really to focus on. Too many graphics competing for my attention, too much to differentiate between. No real color scheme and again, you have to be CONSISTENT. If I don't have navigation in the same place, I don't know where it is, and I'll get disoriented -- and LEAVE.

Get a web navigation book. There are a lot of decent ones now. It will help.
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by:dij8
ID: 6311457
You don't need the right tool to do good design.  You need the right designer.

My site (link is in my profile) was built using mostly Homesite 4.5. But I also used, Notepad, TopStyle Lite 1.5, and PhotoShop 6.  I am a developer and not a designer. Although I had some say, basically I got someone else to design my site.  We worked together to get the result that is there now.  He is designing more changes now which I haven't seen yet but design is about an eye for the right thing, especially regarding your audience.  Tools will help in creating it but which tools they are is completely a matter of choice.
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by:pagemastah
ID: 6311934
DreamWeaver UltraDev - this is strictly for hard coders and web developers

it is WYSIWYG and has multiple functionalities (almost all). it can debug javascripts, SSIs, etc...

try it yourself...

http://www.macromedia.com/dreamweaver/
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Author Comment

by:LorangerG
ID: 6313384

All your comments were greatly appreciated. Although many of you substantiated your opinions, I am going to give the question to Webwoman. Thanks to those of you who gave me a bit of a walkthrough. The site has been designed by coop students for a few years now and is in dire need of improvement. Perhaps I'll request a walkthrough as a question when the site is revamped. Thanks again! Dij8, your website is interesting.
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by:dij8
ID: 6313886
Interesting?  I'll take that as a good thing. ;-)
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by:webwoman
ID: 6315862
Thanks for the A! ;-)
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