Why Adobe Doesn’t Understand Web Designers

by on 18th August 2011 with 44 Comments

Earlier this week Adobe launched a preview of a WYSISYG web design project currently codenamed “Muse.” Though it looked promising, disappointed and even angry reactions from the web community are already all over the web.

With all the time, effort and money that Adobe spends on creating a “code free” solution for designing websites, you’d think that they would be able to create something decently usable by now. So what’s holding them back? Today we’ll take a brief walk down memory lane, starting all the way back at PageMill, to see if we can discover any reoccurring themes in Adobe’s history with web designers.

In The Beginning

Once upon a time, Adobe owned the creative industry. This was that magical point in history when print design was enjoying a long-held high, web design hadn’t quite taken off as a ubiquitous profession and everyone had finally decided that Quark pretty much sucked.

To be sure, I still don’t know of a single creative professional who doesn’t have an Adobe app or two open on their machines at almost all times, but the company still seems to be struggling with a new generation of designers.

Adobe has a long and sordid history with web designers, particularly in the area of WYSIWYG web editors. Again and again they’ve tried to revolutionize and own this industry, each time with less than desirable results. The fact that Adobe is still releasing yearly experiments in this arena is proof enough that internally, they think there is still plenty of room for improvement.

So why can’t the king of creative crack this nut? What is it about web design and/or web designers that Adobe just doesn’t understand? In our quest for the answer, let’s look at some of their notable attempts to infiltrate the web design world.

PageMill & GoLive

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As far back as late 1994, Adobe realized that this Internet thing might be something that they needed to pursue. To do so, they did what any mega-company does in favor of wasting precious R&D time and money: bought up a competitor.

From 1994 to 1999, Adobe’s WYSIWYG of choice was PageMill, acquired from Seneca. By the second or third iteration, it had a lot of bells and whistles and was receiving fairly positive feedback, but Adobe was already working on its next big entrant into this area.

“Fun fact: Builtwith.com estimates that over 27,000 websites are still using PageMill!”

In 1999, Adobe decided to buy yet another company to help defend themselves against the growing threat of Macromedia Dreamweaver. This time around, the target company was GoLive Systems and the product a WYSIWYG editor called CyberStudio, which was rebranded as Adobe GoLive.

Many GoLive users complained that the product suffered from a fundamental conceptual flaw: it was too geared towards static design. It might have been decent for making a very simple, static page, but as soon as you wanted to add any sort of dynamic features, the interface became inefficient, clunky and an all around nightmare to wield properly. Pay attention because this is a theme that we see from Adobe even today.

Other complaints about GoLive related to its fairly messy output. Again, this is a huge lesson, the existence of which Adobe has still somehow managed to remain ignorant.

Surprisingly enough, GoLive was around all the way up through 2007, though it was pulled from the Creative Suite after CS2 and converted to a standalone product. Obviously, as many predicted, Dreamweaver won out in the end.

The Macromedia Chronicles

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Macromedia was a hot name in the late 90s, mostly because of two key acquisitions. In 1996, they purchased both FutureSplash, which became Flash, and Backstage, which evolved into Dreamweaver.

You could write a book on the history of these two apps. None of us need to be reminded of how Flash changed the web forever, initially seeming like a savior and lately being marked as a Judas. Flash did in fact give us a taste of what the web could be though: a rich, interactive and dynamic experience that sometimes felt straight out of Hollywood. It also brought us lots and lots of easily viewable video content, a now critical feature of the web that most of us couldn’t imagine being absent.

Dreamweaver, in short, kicked GoLive’s tail. Nearly everyone who had used both apps extensively favored Dreamweaver’s friendlier workflow. Heavy lifting like scripting and database integration was supposedly much easier in Dreamweaver, causing many large corporations with behemoth sites to favor it. Even more basic features like CSS authoring was touted as superior in Dreamweaver.

Adobe Buys Macromedia

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In true “can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em” fashion, Adobe acquired Macromedia at the close of 2005, marking the beginning of the end for their interest in GoLive.

Six years later, the results of this acquisition are a bit mixed. Adobe has certainly invested a lot into furthering Macromedia’s various technologies, but as I mentioned above, Flash is the web’s favorite whipping boy at the moment (with Apple holding the whip).

However, Dreamweaver is still the WYSIWYG to beat. I was unable to find any solid sales numbers or suggestions of how many Dreamweaver users there are in the world, but once again looking to BuiltWith, we know there are upwards of 4.2 million websites using it (they obviously can’t monitor the whole web).

Obviously, no one can say that Dreamweaver isn’t still having a large impact on the web. However, deep and scornful criticism of Dreamweaver can be easily found wherever one might search for it. Some of this hatred is spewed towards WYSIWYGs in general, but much is directed at the still less than stellar code and perhaps even more at the huge barrier to entry that is associated with the application.

If your goal is to forgo learning some simple HTML and CSS in favor of tackling Dreamweaver, you might be taking on a massive task to avoid a small one! To be fair, coders can use Dreamweaver too, but I’m not alone in thinking that it’s much easier, faster and cleaner to simply code by hand.

Far From Ideal

Ultimately, few professional web developers today claim that Dreamweaver is the pinnacle of visually-driven web development. Instead, the industry seems to have an attitude that accepts that it’s likely the best solution we have at the moment while we eagerly await a true “Dreamweaver killer.”

The Tip of The Iceberg

As we transition into a discussion on two very recent efforts in this arena, know that I’ve merely hit the major players here. Adobe has launched a ton of other efforts such as Flash Catalyst that are targeted at code-free development.

Fireworks

To prevent large scale comment riots, I should also mention that Fireworks is a rockstar app that does successfully combine many elements of Photoshop and web design. It’s definitely not a way to build complete websites code-free, it’s merely what Photoshop would look like if it were truly built with web designers in mind. If you haven’t tried it yet, check out a basic tutorial here.

Project Rome

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Fast forward to the last year or two and Adobe is still trying to figure out what the future of web design will be. A recent notable yet abandoned experiment was Project Rome, which I personally explored on this very site.

My conclusions on Rome were the same as countless other who tried it. There were some solid ideas at work. The learning curve was infinitely lower than Dreamweaver (I was building functional sites within an hour) and you could successfully achieve quite a bit without writing a single line of code.

However, the unforgivable downfall was, wait for it, the output! The brilliant idea here was that instead of using HTML and CSS, Rome could only export a Flash site, even when your structure had absolutely nothing to merit getting Flash involved. Obviously, in a web development climate that currently puts Flash development on par with the evils of table-based layout and terrorism, this didn’t go over well. The Rome website now contains the familiar message from Adobe about moving on to other projects.

Muse

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Only this week Adobe launched Muse, the latest in a long line of promises to give graphic designers a way to build websites without learning code. The videos on the Muse homepage make some pretty big promises about revolutionizing the way websites are built, but we’ve heard all this before and you need only read the previous section to see how it usually pans out.

The web design community spoke out loudly and in unison almost as soon as the announcement email hit our inboxes. The general opinion is best summed up in Elliot Jay Stocks’ recent article, Adobe Muse: a step in the wrong direction. In this harsh but completely justified critique Elliot points out a few of Muse’s fatal flaws: strictly fixed layouts, non-semantic code output (seriously Adobe, have you learned nothing?) and horrible typography. With those areas deemed a failure, what’s left?

I gave Muse a shot and found it to be a logical mixture of the good parts of Project Rome and Photoshop. It’s an obvious attempt to take the same goals and ideas behind Rome and separate them from Flash. It’s super easy to pick up and run with and yet it feels quite limited in what I’m allowed to control. Ultimately, I can’t help but join Stocks in saying that Adobe has once again missed the mark.

What Adobe Doesn’t Understand

It’s immensely frustrating to see Adobe going through so many attempts to bring web design to all designers. It’s definitely a huge problem, one that I’m not sure anyone has solved, but I’m not sure Adobe has really taken the time to explore current practices in web design enough to try to revolutionize them.

The conversation in Adobe’s meetings has likely been the same for years, they want to leverage the unbelievably immense base of Photoshop users and give them a tool for easy web design. Lots of print designers are simply too intimated by code, so let’s give them a way to transition their careers into web design with as little pain as possible.

It’s a novel idea, and frankly one that I searched high and low for before learning to code, but the concept may be entirely flawed. Print design is by nature static. Short of lenticular illusions, ink on a page simply doesn’t offer many opportunities for real interactions.

“The web is a living breathing thing and print design metaphors taken too far are simply serving up dead, static content.”

The web on the other hand, is built on interaction. The basic idea of the worldwide web as we now know it is that it’s an interactive portal to a global network. No matter how much current and former print designers, myself included, want it to be print design on a screen, that’s simply not the case. The web is a living breathing thing and print design metaphors taken too far are simply serving up dead, static content.

When I build a website, behavior is every bit or even more important than the surface aesthetics. I think of how the site will function and let that define how it looks, not the other way around. Most WYSIWYG apps have it backwards and instead focus on building static, unusable designs that are then sloppily infused with a modicum of interaction. This model will forever fail to produce the kind of rich web content that the world is used to receiving.

The Solution: Stop Running from Code

Another thing that Adobe completely misunderstands is that there is a current web design industry! Print designers want into that existing industry, not some third niche that is looked down upon. If every “real” web designer hates your product, then odds are it’s not going to be adopted by incoming newbies who want to join the club.

To this end, Adobe should be attempting to build an app that makes coders happy. This is a tricky goal to be sure.

“WYSIWYG’s shouldn’t be a way to avoid learning code, they should be a way to teach it.”

In my opinion, WYSIWYG’s shouldn’t be a way to avoid learning code, they should be a way to teach it! Consider options like Flux and CSSEdit (now part of Espresso). Both of these offer a visual way to create and style web content without relying too heavily on print design metaphors that simply don’t apply. Instead, the visual controls in these apps entirely revolve around technology that the web actually uses: CSS. If you’re new to coding, using these apps extensively will only help you gain a more thorough understanding of how web development works.

“Adobe simply can’t keep ignoring the output of their web products under the argument that non-coders won’t know the difference.”

Further, when you look at the code that results from Flux, CSSEdit and even Rapidweaver, it’s clean and web developer friendly despite the fact that the generation was handled through a visual interface. This is immensely important. Adobe simply can’t keep ignoring the output of their web products under the argument that non-coders won’t know the difference. Non-coders will hear from coders that the product isn’t up to par and they won’t use it.

Instead of giving graphic designers a back door into the web industry, Adobe needs to start considering how they can create a product that truly and easily empowers them to be real web developers.

Conclusion

WYSIWYG web design is hard to discuss. So many people hate it and look down upon it in a fashion that completely alienates the users who are bound to it without any other viable alternative. After all, if hardcore coders are pretentious snobs, what incentive is there to become one? As someone who codes by hand 100% of the time, I’m completely guilty of this negative attitude and apologize to any would-be developers out there that are intimidated by a web design community that should be finding ways to welcome them into the fold and helping them out instead of casting them out.

That being said, it’s the state of WYSIWYG applications that get us so fired up. Most of them are simply so far off the mark that they can only cause disgust in the minds of people who spend 40+ hours a week dedicating themselves to following agreed upon practices that genuinely make the web a better place.

Adobe, more than perhaps any other company, lies at the heart of this debate and many believe that they are helping to create more problems than solutions. What would happen if Adobe got together with Eric Meyer, Jeffrey Zeldman, Paul Irish and other leading industry experts and asked how they could build a user-friendly visual editor that meets the lofty standards of these individuals?

What if Adobe slowed down in its mad grab for web design market share long enough to ask what being a web developer really means and how they can help bring print design converts to that place rather than making them the red-headed step children of the web design world?

Something truly revolutionary, that’s what.

Update: Further Reading

After writing and publishing this article, I became aware of some similar discussions and projects. I’m definitely not alone in thinking that a revolutionary step in this area is needed. Check out the links below for more information.

Project Meteor
“Project Meteor is a campaign to demonstrate the demand for a modern web design app and give app developers direction as to what it should be.”

The Perfect Web Design App… and Why It Doesn’t Exist
“Designers and developers share with Craig Grannell their tools for designing websites and demand something more in keeping with modern practices. The perfect tool, it seems, simply doesn’t exist yet, as highlighted by the Project Meteor campaign”

Comments & Discussion

44 Comments

  • Jen

    An extremely interesting article, but it’s hard to get beyond the fact that many of the critics of Muse aren’t at all their target audience. If you can point out the flaws, you don’t need it. You may as well have a professional baker pointing out what’s wrong with Betty Crocker’s packet mixes. An analysis of Apple’s web publishing software iWeb in comparison to Muse would be interesting to say the least.

  • http://www.stephaniewalter.fr Stéphanie

    Very interresting article, I can’t agree more with you.
    First thing I did when Muse launched was checking the showcase websites and their code. I thought there was something wrong with the double html, so I installed it to see if maybe there was an option to check so that code won’t get so messy, but there was not. Muse code output is really strange.
    Nevertheless, Muse enables to create websites very quickly, so I might use it to create quick and simple interractive wireframes to present to clients in meetings (but won’t re-use the code). Thank’s adobe for this quick wireframing tool ^^

  • http://www.roundedworks.com Wayne McManus

    Great article. I think “Stop Running from Code” hits the nail right on the head. Agree with Jen though, it’s aimed at people that don’t know any better. Doesn’t stop the frustration though.

  • Joshua Johnson

    Thanks for the comments, great insight! I really think that Adobe doesn’t want an iWeb competitor though, they want something revolutionary that could potentially change web design (they say this very plainly). With this goal in mind, they need a product easy enough for “the people that don’t know any better” that generates code good enough for the people who do.

  • http://www.innov8graphics.com/ Sanjay Mistry

    I’m a newbie to webdesign.
    I only started learning to code last year 2010 and choose Dreamweaver as my platform to code sites. I’ve come a long way in one year, however, I know I’ve still got loads to learn! Getting back to Adobe DW it was a great way to get learn coding.
    My website header http://www.innov8graphics.com all created with Ps Dw and lots of trial and error! Thumbs up for Dw and Adobe from me!

  • Matty

    Agreed. No matter what, these kind of WYSIWYG applications will never be a substitute for knowing markup. At the very least, it’ll create a new wave of mediocre web designers. Just learn the code people.

  • http://viastudio.com Jason Clark

    Well written article. Did Homesite still exist when Adobe bought Macromedia?

    Adobe should concentrate on unbloating their products and maybe they’ll have a chance with the web industry. There’s no need for the ONE TOOL to rule them all in web development. Our web design process is: Pencil Sketches » Wireframes (Axure) » Styling (Photoshop) » Coding (by hand). 1

  • Absolute

    Well said!
    Adobe has to stop ignoring code output. You hit the nail on the head several times in this article. Have you ever tried Photoshop/Lightroom’s automate webgallery feature?
    It works, but if you look at the code, it’ll make your stomach turn!
    Steve Jobs pointed out to the world that Adobe’s code is sloppy. While I’ve never viewed the code that makes their programs, if it’s anything like their website generated code, then it has to be horrendous by Apple’s standards.
    Clean, semantic code it the very first building block. If they develop an app for print designers that catches on but spits out horrible code, then all those designers are going to be pissed off when they discover what an SEO nightmare they’ve created.
    I also agree that WYSIWYG needs to teach proper coding, not avoid it. Really, HTML is built around properly identifying typography layouts, such as unordered list, ordered list, blockquote, cite, etc. Any print designer worth their salt should know and use proper typography in their layouts. Ironically, I didn’t really learn that stuff in college, but via HTML. So I’ve migrated this correctness to my print layouts as well. If I’ve got a list, I’ll mark it as such in InD, which makes way easier to update when pared w/ a paragraph style and character style for your bullets! Paragraph Styles are really CSS if you look at it correctly. Once that connection is made, I think a program could be made to export in whatever medium you need. Mark it right, the output for the medium and the program will do the rest. HTML is a beautifully constructed language that helps designers learn this if they just take the time to do so.
    Concrete5 is a CMS I’ve been using lately that has a super slick interface and a WYSIWYG editor that I don’t even have to train clients to use. They’re on the right track as far as showing users that a WYSIWYG will teach you how to code. The missing link is discovering the HTML language tags. Once you get those down, they can be applied anywhere. Check out concrete5 if you’d like to see something that’s seamlessly built for designers and editors and users. Check it out! http://www.concrete5.org/r/-/6614

  • http://camwebdesign.com Corey

    Well written article. I could not agree more. code

  • Damien

    I’m a tourist in the webdesign universe, being coding a few websites for people I know and myself since the Table-Based Era.
    Honestly, there is no way I would advocate to a newbie or an amateur like me to get to learn something such as Dreamweaver. It’s more interesting in terms of time and money to take Notepad++ and learn how to code some HTML and CSS, and grasp some scripts if you need to…
    You can’t code a serious website without knowing a single line of HTML, so better do it now.
    Considering that as a coder you then know coding, you would probably be more interested in an editor with some power tools to speed up your process, and a good ability to see instantly the changes you code.
    As a coder, considering your clients and the potential updaters they are, you want a good tool to make small changes on your pages without coding, and which does not f*ck up your layout after editing 20 times the same page.
    …and all that without having to master a complicated software for weeks or how to use another CMS that will be dead within 2 years…
    Good luck Adobe !

  • Darasen

    I am going to be a bit contentious and state my belief that a product like Muse absolutely needs to exist. There are far too many coders out there labeling themselves as “designers” who may create perfect markup for sites that look like crap or a million other sites. I am of the firm belief,(based on observations) that there are far fewer people who can create great looking code and designs than people who think they can. This is not meant to malign anyone just an observation of mindsets and skill sets. Of course some large companies use separate designers and coders for this very reason.

    The problem with code, as it exist, is the more interesting the design one wishes to make the more complex the code needs to be. In a way the issues lies with the W3C making code increasingly complex. Is “margin: auto; width (whatever)” a more intuitive way to center a div than ? Let me add to that with HTML5’s canvas you can do some neat things just be aware that you need to learn JavaScript to make a simple line.

    Point being that, generally speaking, the more artistically inclined one is the less likely they are to be programming inclined. I am of the opinion that web design needs more artistry involved and fewer sites that look like Yahoo’s front page. I am fully aware that print designers have had to become more and more technically inclined over the years as programs like InDesign have become more complex. Though i will admit to being around long enough to know how to do a mechanical.

    Lastly any designer knows the importance of knowing your target audience. Likely your audience does not care how the code works. They care that they are able to get the information they want on the browser or device of their choice. If the code works cross browser and has a reasonable load time most will be more interested in the appearance than the code. I do not think anyone ever views the source code of a page to make a purchasing decision.

    To me trying to put the power of design in a designers hands is a step in the right direction.

  • Chuck

    Have any of you tried Expression Web from MS?

    http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/web_overview.aspx

  • Absolute

    @Darasen
    I agree w/ you on coders calling themselves designers and vice versa. I’ve been classically trained in the fine arts, and I love to code, so I’d have to say I’m a very rare bird in the webdesign scene.
    However, I think Muse is a step in the wrong direction. While a print designer may be happy to see their design transformed into a website, they’re not going to be happy when it comes SEO time and the code is all wrong and they don’t know how to fix it, then have to hire someone to redo the code, making Muse pointless unless it’s just used for mockup/proof of concept type of a thing.
    Web is dynamic. Print is not. A complex design does not make it a good design.
    Web is built around people mining and searching for info, so the cleaner the look, the better the results. Minimal design and clean code is just the ticket here. HTML is such a beautiful markup language, I would encourage any print designer to learn the 28 (I think) HTML tags and encourage them to use their InDesign counterparts as a primer for moving into web design.
    The web is chock full of crap, we don’t need another app to make more of it.

  • Thomas

    I think, we really all underestimate, or better said, overestimate the target-group of Adobe.
    We still think, that all of Adobes products are made for professional users. I really don’t think so, not anymore – and the muse-project just increases my opinion.
    The Products you listed, are not really used by international-standart-oriented webdesigners.(except of Dreamweaver, maybe.)
    I recogniced, that programms, as GoLive, or Rome, Muse in future, are use by non-design oriented firms, who do not want to pay for a freelancer, because most freelancers are not cheap – for a good reason! Because there work is high quality.
    The professional Webdesigner only uses the programm, but the target group from Adobe lets the programm work as it wants.

  • EzLyfe

    You are spot on point, i am at the mid-way point to becoming a professional designer, ive come to realize learning the code is essential no matter how much DW wants me to stay on the tit. Im having withdrawal but persevering. Adobe does need to understand that their code output is a crucial part of designing esp. when working in team environments. Although i must give them kudos for their newest child, EDGE. wonderbar. Ive had enough challenges learning HTML/CSS and its advances, without having to continually learn more/different CODES. Give a fella a Break. I will be using EDGE (alot). It beats Flash for the menial tasks, and pushes the foot of Apple a little further down the throat.(adapt & grow). Good Job Adobe.

    Anyway enjoyed the article, You are absolutely right. Had to comment.

    Lyfe

  • http://19fdesign.com zoel

    “The Solution: Stop Running from Code”….Absolutly!!! It must be know that HCI is one factor of web design between user and designer to make perfect goal of a website. I think perfect website can’t use adobe muse trick only.

  • http://johndunning.com/fireworks John

    While I agree with much of the criticisms of Adobe’s failed attempts at web tools, I’m perplexed by the conflation of designer and developer in this article and the comments. Those are distinct areas of expertise, but everyone seems to be assuming they’re identical.

    The second to last section above starts with:

    “Another thing that Adobe completely misunderstands is that there is a current web design industry!”

    Indeed there is. But the section ends with:

    “Adobe needs to start considering how they can create a product that truly and easily empowers them to be real web developers.”

    Why should Adobe turn designers into developers? Do we expect car designers to sketch a new model and then head to the assembly line to start cranking it out? Yes, designers have to be aware of the strengths and limitations of the technology they’re working with, but very few people are able to be expert at both.

    What Adobe should be building for professional web designers are tools that make it easier to express designs intended for the web or mobile devices, but without promising to output code (or at least framing the code as a “prototype” rather than production).

    For instance, if you’ve got a mockup of a web page in a tool like Fireworks and then want to change the size of an element, you have to manually rearrange all the elements. In a browser, making an element bigger automatically reflows everything on the page. Why can’t a design tool do that? Good tools should let designers should spend more time iterating and less time on tedious housekeeping.

  • http://husz.unet.my Husnil Khatimi Hussin

    Great article.! Totally agreed.!

    Among the people who said “what?!!” when Adobe acquired Macromedia is me. Sometimes I prefer Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 instead of Adobe Dreamweaver CS/2/3/4/5 because its lighter and smooth.

    The interface also, i kind of hate the adobe’s gui, prefer basic windows like, and, too much backlink to their website, etc.

  • http://www.webdesigncreare.co.uk Kim Ruddock

    My background is in graphic design and I’ve had to spend the last year learning HTML and CSS in order to work in the web design industry. It never occurred to me that somebody should be making software that ‘does it for me’ at the expense of producing semantically correct code. I think it’s fair that graphic designers should learn to code from scratch. These kind of attempts by Adobe only facilitate the dilution in quality of websites on the internet.

  • http://www.photosheep.me Lena

    To quote a guy from a Mashable post on Adobe Muse “graphic designers with the power of making websites… creepy…” My thoughts exactly! Graphic designers have totally different perspective (and approach!) on the matter, they do not have that “feeling” for the screen. I myself have a graphic design background, but past 5 years I’ve spent in web industry so I can tell what does it mean when jumping from designing a trifold brochure to designing a website. When creating a layout in PS I almost instantly picture the final output … when placing e.g. a navigation bar I’m thinking about paddings and floats, about certain browsers and their limitations – I think about the code itself. And YES I downloaded Muse and tested it – I added a wrapper with a simple button and the the final html looked like this: http://snipt.net/hellena/muse-html-export/
    WordPress tagline says that the code is poetry but the code that Muse produces is equally messy as overcooked spaghetti.
    Thank you very much Adobe, but I’ll continue with my handcoding practice :)

  • Luis

    Less than a 25 years ago typographers still typeset by hand; This is now an artisan’s task…why should we expect to code by hand for long? It is inevitable that software applications will meet the need to meet web standards without ‘manual’ coding.

    There seems to be a fear (and should be) that a program can generate source code for designers, that is not an SEO nightmare(as claimed here in some replies), one that has web standards built in/to be attributed as needed.

    From experience, with very few exceptions coders often have very limited design skills and foundation, this includes color theory, typography, etc. On the other hand, designers can make make that which the user wants. The gap for many designers is coding, and often times coders limit the creative capacity of a project.

    The answer in a vast number of cases—take the focus off the back end and allow the software to generate, test, etc. This is a step in the right direction ,and inevitable. Keep in mind that less than a century ago typographers typeset by hand; This is now an artisan’s task…why should we expect to code by hand for long?

  • http://www.timothywebdesign.com Timothy

    I’ll speak up to partially defend Dreamweaver. It has a pretty good code editor, a good file manager/ftp tool, and design view is useful for editing content. Its template feature is great for small sites. As far as using its Design view to avoid coding it creates nightmares. I wish Adobe would build on its strong points and drop the emphasis on Design view (WYSIWYG) and build it up as a professional coding tool.

  • http://www.mjswebsolutions.com Mike

    For all the graphic designers out there, hire a coder. I code websites. I don’t design them. I know I can’t design, so I hire those who do and then I code their design.

  • http://dkmd.de/ dkdenz

    I use Quanta+ on Ubuntu.
    I use Notepad++ on Windows.
    I use GoLiveCS4 *EEK* on Mac (but only in source code mode).
    So I get always a clean source code, because I type it by myself.
    There is no reason to find Adobe interesting about webdesign …

  • Luis

    Mashable on MUSE…

    Muse was built to take advantage of certain HTML5 and CSS3 properties and to generate semantically-correct code. We’ve heard all of that before, but in our tests, the code that Muse outputs is clean and readable.

    You can add your own HTML snippets or dynamic content information to a Muse page, and the app also comes with a set of pre-defined widgets. These widgets are written in jQuery and can be modified like any other element. CSS3 transitions are also possible to create in Muse; the process is seamless.

    You can preview a page locally using the built-in WebKit browser or by opening up a file in the default app on your Mac or PC. This is great for seeing exactly how something looks in a browser before publishing.

    http://mashable.com/2011/08/15/adobe-muse/

  • Jean

    I pretty much agree with all that you’ve said here. So I won’t extend on that. The point is, everybody here seems to be deep into web coding.
    So, we all know that nothing can front this deep knowledge of how code is rendered, how it behaves. It would be nearly impossible to develop a WYSIWYG that could automatically do nice code reuse, cascade styles, extend classes.
    Facing that “almost impossible to develop software” we have web designers who, to get it done, only need a good code editing tool, with code coloring, a file manager and code completer (just to speed up the coding).
    As you said, Adobe seems to be trying to bring a tool to ease the ones coming from other areas. I think that’s exactly what they want. If what web professionals need can be solved by free tools like Notepad++, how could they sell similar software for the price they sell? So, they focus on the needs of the ones who want to master the web whithout mastering the skills.
    I’m not being arrogant. Arrogant are the ones who want to repaint Monalisa whithout getting ink on their hands.
    It’s not only because you do both from computer that you won’t need to trully understand the process to get the final product. I see no web designer trying to work on flexography pre-press, or preparing a magazine files to be printed.
    Both medias are completelly different, from their very cores. People should learn that no tool can substitute knowledge. I completelly encourage everyone who wants to code on the web. But first of all, get to know HTML and it’s history. It’s pretty much enlightening for the ones who seek working with it, the same way that my fellow designers here know that we must know papper to print on it.
    Further on, we could talk about the difference of not code, but web design it self, layouting a website, an app, and stuff. It would be some more hours of discussion, for the same reasons.

  • http://www.pixelmetrie.de Matthias

    Great read! I use Dreamweaver since I started coding sites in Dreamweaver 3.0 in 2000. Though the code generated by the app was to silly, I learned to code sites myself. Thanks Macromedia ;) Today, only a few has changed: I still use Dreamweaver (currently CS5) only for the colorized markup and file-structure. I don’t believe that any app will ever catch up with the fast growing amount of code-languages and methods. Code is poetry, you don’t even get an ape to write a good poem.

  • aladdin

    Making tool for pro web designer is a silly decision. Let me say the same thing the other way:

    If you are making tool for world-class architechture building company, you can only be a small company, maybe larger than these world-class companies, twice or three times the size. And think about their contrary part: BOSE, selling good tools for average house building workers.

    If you are smart enough, you can know why you are asking something that Adobe never intend to do. And frankly to say, building a semantic-sensitive tool is much harder than you can imagine. What you really need is a AI assistant, that can guess your intention from your operation steps, and adjust your code by your intention.

  • http://spyesx.fr spyesx

    I like Muse… but ONLY for my wireframes!

  • http://www.jaybonemusic.com jay bone music

    WYSIWYG can be said about any piece of software! (this term is OVER used) Dreamweaver is by far adobe’s best aquaired software along with flash! Photoshop and illustrator will always have a strong following. For adobe to maintain a steady pace, they should focus on these areas for professional designers and developers. Creating anyone can do it software is ok, but no match for creativity and the tools to unleash the imagination !!!

  • http://sketchbookclub.com don

    Great read, but I want to comment on your observation that “everyone had finally decided that Quark pretty much sucked.”

    In my experience, the consensus was not that Xpress sucked, but that InDesign was just better, as Xpress had been better than PageMaker, Ready Set Go, Multi-Ad and all its predecessors.

    It was Quark the company that sucked, primarily in their arrogance and unresponsiveness towards their customers. Ask anyone who was there about trying to replace a lost user manual for Xpress. When the opportunity came, we didn’t ditch the products, we ditched dealing with a douchebag company.

    Ironic, no?

  • http://sketchbookclub.com don

    Oops, I forgot to add that “WYSIWYG’s shouldn’t be a way to avoid learning code, they should be a way to teach it,” is just brilliant. Motto times infinity.

  • http://www.robertosimoes.net Roberto Simões

    I think Adobe is the new Microsoft. Expensive and bad products.
    App developers, let’s make products like Coda, Espresso, they killed Dreamweaver. I want an alternative for Photoshop/ Fireworks, Indesign, Flash (well, Flash is almost dead, forget it) and Illustrator.

  • http://www.aniseedmediadesign.co.uk/ phil

    Not sure Quark ever ‘sucked’. Sure it became too interested in it’s own importance and is waaaaay too expensive but if you used it in the 10 years before InDesign came along and got to know it as well as your first language it did exactly what it should be able to do – lay out pages with only 3 tools – text boxes, image boxes and lines. The rest was (as it is supposed to be) down to the creative talents of the graphic designer.

    You seem to be suggesting that somehow with all its bells and whistles InDesign is somehow better, because it has all the bells and whistles and takes some of the strain off the graphic input of the person using it.

    Which is exactly your argument for not using Muse – it makes it somehow too easy, you don’t have to see the details in the code, you don’t have to use basic coding skills.

    I think there is certain element of coder snobbery in this (which is OK!!, ok?) and in suggesting that if you don’t code then you really shouldn’t be attempting to make a website.

    I would like to think that as a graphic designer starting out in 1989 core graphics skills weigh more than the ability to create an amazing (if conceptually flawed) piece of design in Illustrator or InDesign in seconds and it pains me as it pains you that there is now an interface to the tricky bits, a helping hand where there wasn’t previously. This makes the underlying core skills – graphic design and coding more and more irrelevant to the newbie.

    But this is where we are now and from your arguments point of view things are only going to get worse. The interface to mobile web design has now been cracked so no coding needed there for the beginner. Various plugins and online solutions mean no knowledge of video, audio or databases in really necessary for the beginner. The interface to web design has been with us for a few years now.

    Core skills will always be needed to some aspects of the creation of certain higher level websites but the truth is that we have cracked the interface for the design of a website and there’s no going back.

  • http://twitter.com/ngassmann ngassmann

    the industry seems to have an attitude that accepts that it’s likely the best solution we have at the moment while we eagerly await a true “Dreamweaver killer.”

    Are you implying that “the industry” considers WYSIWYG “coding” as a solution at all? Professional developers DO NOT use WYSIWYG editors. If they do, they are not professionals. Sorry.

    I personally code by hand in Dreamweaver because, a) it’s been paid for, b) already has all my site definitions stored in nice little packages c) is customized to my liking.

    If I hired a “developer” who used WYSIWYG editors to build a site, I’d have to fire them and then myself for hiring them.

  • Marco

    as for now, i use aptana as a coding envoirment.
    just design the things in photoshop and then use some quirk tool to make a design don’t fits me, as you said, the current tools don’t fit our needs.
    as a past user of dreamweaver it’s just too slow too annoying to use for good, i prefered write down my code by hand than use it.
    but thanks for the advice.

  • http://flamedidea.byethost31.com Rafael John

    @matty I absolutely agree with you mate!I am also a designer and we were taught html too before, but I kinda run away from coding, but it changed yesterday, I was able to download this html5 for beginners and relearn all, and I all I can say, is this coding thing,html 5 & css 3 stuff, yeah I can do it all day!!!!, and for the wyswyg, yeah we see it and get it, but we don’t actually GET it, haha

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  • Luke

    I have been using MUSE beta since day one and have found it to be quite a nice piece of software. Your article really explains nothing. All you do is rant about things that are not even important to the people who are gonna use this software. You take nothing into account for that. Plus its a BETA, it has changed and improved a hell of a lot over the last few months and will continue to do so until its official release.

    Of course it does have flaws, but name me one program that doesn’t . MUSE is not being made to replace the software used by hardcore professional web designers. It is the middle ground for people who want to make a good website without a lot of hassle, but at the same time it allows for that same person to make an amazing site if they just take the time to learn a bit more.

    This article and people commenting on it are very sad people for thinking that anyone who wants to build a website should learn coding is somehow stupid and inferior. That is such a load of crap you nerds use to make yourselves feel like you are doing something so important…you are not…you are making websites, not curing cancer. GET OVER YOURSELVES!

  • ERR

    I totally disagree with the premise of this discussion (and agree with Luke & Phil). Obviously the majority of you are coders (correct me if I am wrong). I will preface this by saying I am not a coder and not “classically” trained in coding. I am a professional photographer and graphic designer for 20 years. What and how to code I learned was from PageMill and ultimately GoLive. It gave me the ability to go in and tweak what need to be tweaked and make a very nice, functional, and informative site for my business. I was one of the first photographers in my region to have a full fledged site.

    That being said, you all are missing what Muse is and is not. It is not for coders (Um there isn’t even an editor included): Muse is for “US”, the graphic designers, artists, photographers… The “Right side of the brain(ers)”.

    You all sound so fearful (and very insecure) that Muse will somehow magically render you useless in the world of web design. It’s just not so. I would never want to build a complex site for myself or anybody else, it’s what you coders do. But I do want the ability to design a simple, sexy and somewhat interactive site for my clients to view my work and MUSE fits the bill.

    Adobe never stated it was a replacement for anything.It is simply another tool which a good amount of people will find very useful in their workflow.

    You need to take a round trip look at what the product actually is and who it is targeted to and leave that coders ego checked at the door.

    If you want to piss and moan about something try the fact that is is a subscription only app. Now that is appalling!

  • AntoxaGray

    I hate the fact that Adobe refuse to admit that Photoshop is #1 for designing mockups and trying to push Fireworks, which is not as good as Ps, and thus not adding necessary functions to Photoshop. Character/Paragraph styles, for example, appeared only in CS6.

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