Hand-coding stuff really IS more reliable and efficient. I get so bothered when I work on sites that were built using Dreamweaver because I find that the code is difficult to read, is not compatible with any other browser than the embedded (usually Internet Explorer) WYSIWYG viewer, and is plain inefficient. Although the advanced features I’m looking for are technically available, they’re seldom easy to use, rarely implemented well, or are just plain buried so deep within a tree of menus that they may as well be non-existant.
My vindication came in the form of a Q&A done with the design director of the New York Times online. Here’s the important part:
It’s our preference to use a text editor, like HomeSite, TextPad or TextMate, to “hand code” everything, rather than to use a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) HTML and CSS authoring program, like Dreamweaver. We just find it yields better and faster results.
I hope that more high-profile designers and developers will come forward and speak up on this topic, too. I know some people will read this as a dig against them, but it’s really not meant that way. Simply, I think it would be a good idea that if a designer really cared about their sites being compatible, adaptable, and mutable, then they should take the time to learn to code by hand and view the dramatic results for themselves.
Based on my own experiences, I find hand-coding to be many times faster than using WYSIWYG apps because of the reduced amount of time it takes to implement small changes when doing browser compatability. If I want to re-arrange some CSS real quick, make a minute adjustment to a property, or drop in some debug code, it’s simply faster, easier, and more reliable to do it by hand than it is to wade through menus, make sure boxes are cheked, then wait around for a whole project to be updated.
That’s time I could spend working on the next project.