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Are websites made just with text editors?

  1. Jan 2, 2017 #1
    Basically does anyone actually spend time to position each element for their website in the css/html code or are there special programs that are more interactive and generate code for you with movable buttons etc...?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2017 #2


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    That's one way to do it, you can also use templates or something like WordPress. I'm also assuming there are other tools or templates that make the actual coding of the site easier.

    Here is another template/builder that looks similar to WordPress: http://www.simbla.com/
  4. Jan 2, 2017 #3
    Interesting, I'm just wondering if learning CSS/HTML is worth it because of programs like Dreamweaver and WordPress that pretty much make the site for you.
  5. Jan 2, 2017 #4


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    Templates can only take you so far, so I would say yes if you want to do anything involved.
  6. Jan 3, 2017 #5
    Re: "text editor" - for at least 5 years now, & probably longer than that, CSS coding tools have been providing text editor plus auto-generation of code snippets; plus preview functions, etc. So when you say "text editor," it's not like having to go in there with a bare-bones editor like vim with a CSS reference book at your side.

    Even so things have changed over the years & the need to know CSS just to build a basic site has grown considerably less. I used to build HTML & CSS "by hand" way back around 2000 or so; back then you had to do browser tests & hacks to get everything to more or less work. Starting around 2005 I got heavily into WordPress and started doing CSS with dedicated tools. But these days, it's amazing how well something like SquareSpace or Weebly works if all you want to do is get a blog or forum or small business site up quickly. Sure, if you are a coder at heart, I don't imagine you'd ever want to lose sight of the code completely; but for some of us today, web sites have become similar to light switches: we don't need to know how electricity works to illuminate the room.

    Of course automation of CSS has begat its share of poor outcomes - e.g. it is fairly often that I find a page on a site I'd like to print out; go to print, and you discover no one bothered to set up the template for that & the default template does not print at all nicely. Or no one set up the template for mobile, etc. Also most templates are designed with decent adherence to usability guidelines, but if you don't know why usability matters you can still muck things up.

    So back to your question - if you find yourself asking, as you have, "is it worth learning CSS?" than most likely the answer is "probably not right now"; otherwise you'd already know the answer. The exceptions typically are 1) you love to code and/or want a job that requires CSS knowledge (e.g. something to do with web design), or 2) as @Student100 has pointed out, you need to go beyond available templates.

    The other thing is - and this is irrespective of which tools you use - if you've never built a web site before, it's worth learning about design conventions, especially for usability, a.k.a. "user experience" (UX). I'm not that active anymore in design so I don't know how standards may have shifted, but a book like Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think was very handy in its day. A https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Th...483439156&sr=1-1&keywords=Don't+Make+Me+Think was published in 2014 and that seems recent enough to still be valid. Web design is not about how pretty you can make something, it's about how well a site serves the shared goals of its owners & its users.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  7. Jan 3, 2017 #6


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    As an active web developer, I can assure you that there are many kinds of IDEs and tools in general, that can assist you in writing code and this of course extends beyond web development. I have used simple text editors way back, to create portions of websites (design and server - client code) but this is not the case anymore, as sites have grown way more complex and time / deadlines are a lot more demanding. I have used Dreamweaver for over a decade and is definitely a good tool for professional web design but I use mostly WebStorm and Eclipse, because I mostly deal with the programming portion of sites (mainly server side now). For the needs of HTML / CSS i.e web design aspects of a site, there are other good tools - even separate ones (a simple googling will give you many such results). I find WebStorm a very good IDE for every aspect of web development.

    Specifically for CSS, I recommend taking a look at SASS. There are many benefits of using it, if you want to manually develop your CSS in a modular and effective way.

    There is always the option of using templates or even further web frameworks or some CMS (Content Management System) and that depends on your needs. If you like web design or web development (including coding server or client), there is always the need to have a decent grasping of HTML (version 5 now), CSS (version 3 now), JavaScript and for the second case also some server side language(s) (like PHP, JSP, ASP.NET and others). That will allow you to modify, tune things up and do the appropriate hacks, even to premade templates or prewritten code (as templates or as systems). On the other hand, as it has already been pointed out, if you just want to create some website without caring about the details, you can just use some premade and already tested template / framework / system to do your job.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  8. Jan 3, 2017 #7
    I would like to find a job in web development in the future, which is why I'm wondering if learning CSS in depth would have any utility.
  9. Jan 3, 2017 #8
    If you want it do it right I'm inclined to say yes it is 100% necessary.

    Take a look at http://www.alessioatzeni.com/CSS3-Cycle-Image-Slider/
    Currently a lot if not all Image sliders are using at least some javascript often a whole framework.
    With CSS3 we'll be able to avoid the javascript altogether and create a nice solution.

    In my opinion a well-written slider will serve a lot of use, especially when using Sass mentioned above.
    You can simply adapt it for other websites you create.

    Creating a layout is becoming easier as well with recent additions like flexbox and grid.

    At the moment some functionality isn't ready for production environments as you can see here for CSS grids.
    Flexbox on the other hand is ready to be used, major responsive CSS frameworks like bootstrap are migrating to a flexbox-based layout (once you understand the basics which takes an hour if you're familiar with CSS you can create a simple three-column + header + footer template without embellishments in literally 15 minutes).
  10. Jan 3, 2017 #9
    Is it worth making a webpage from scratch? Or should I just get familiar with the code?
  11. Jan 3, 2017 #10


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    Personally, I definitely think so, so that you have a good idea what's going on under the covers when you move to an automation tool.

    WHAT code? If you mean HTML, it's not code (which implies a procedural language) it's a markup language and yes, you should get familiar with it.

    I have one of my web sites that is HUGE in terms of the amount of information and the number of pages and links, but it is not interactive and is purely functional with very little consideration for design issues, and I do it all in a text editor plus a trivial amount of CSS and JavaScript. It's at


    Following all the links and looking at everything on the site would take days but I've built it up over a decade and again, it's purely static (non-interactive) which makes a big difference.

    The most tedious part by far was in the illustrated glossary where I had to manually create thousands of cross-links.
  12. Jan 3, 2017 #11


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    It will, even if you plan to deal mostly with the coding part of developing a website / web app. It is part of the fundamentals that fall under the umbrella of web development. If you follow the web design part, then you'll definitely need it along with a good knowledge of HTML and some decent knowledge / fluency in JavaScript. But even following core web development, there will definitely be times that this will save even your job or at least your time.
  13. Jan 3, 2017 #12
    A remark for kolleamm is warranted here I think.

    While this is a possibility for a website that grows organically you want to avoid such a task if you know your website will grow to such proportions well in advance you will want to look at tools to help you.
    Either by writing scripts that automate certain tasks or by using some sort of content management system. The work to be done remains large but can be simplified.

    I agree with phinds it is definitely worth it. It's also to fastest and most rigorous way to get familiar with the languages.
    When learning/polishing your CSS you can try and create a design based purely on CSS which is the goal of http://www.csszengarden.com/
    All designs there have the same underlying HTML markup but the CSS creates vastly different results.
    It's astonishing if you ask me.
  14. Jan 3, 2017 #13
    After looking at http://www.csszengarden.com/ it seems like the design is fairly well done, which leads me to my next question, why isn't CSS enough?
  15. Jan 3, 2017 #14
    CSS is purely styling. You still need the HTML framework, Javascript for dynamism and a server side language for database connections etc.
  16. Jan 3, 2017 #15
    What I meant to say was is CSS enough for styling?
  17. Jan 3, 2017 #16
    Yeah, what else is there? There are extensions like SASS, LESS and Stylus but in the end it comes back to core CSS.
  18. Jan 3, 2017 #17


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    "Yes" - but you need elements, which means you need HTML. Without HTML elements there is nothing CSS could influence.

    Learning CSS without learning at least basic HTML is pointless.

    There are also some style-like things that don't work with CSS alone and require javascript.
  19. Jan 3, 2017 #18


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    I disagree. Computer code is a set of instructions that tells the computer to perform a task. You might say that HTML is actually instructions that tells a piece of software to perform a task. If you disqualify that as being code you also disqualify every interpreted language in existence.


    That certainly disqualifies a vast amount of software as being made of "code".

  20. Jan 3, 2017 #19


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    I have one general comment about relying on tools. You can get a working product much easier using the tools, but you have to be flexible enough to accept the results and limitations of the tools. If you are working for someone that tells you exactly how the web site must look, then you may run into trouble. The tools can generate very complicated code that you can not realistically "tweek" to get the required look.
  21. Jan 3, 2017 #20


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    No, you do not. Interpreted languages are procedural.
    No, just things that are not code, like HTML which is a markup language.
  22. Jan 4, 2017 #21


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    Language. Computer language is code. Some interpreted languages like python have aspects that are object oriented. Thus not procedural.

    Which level of abstraction do we disqualify as code?

    I agree that when you are using point and click and drag you are designing not coding; you are designing. The stuff that comes out of that is code. You can then jump in and modify the code after the fact. The computer made much of the code but modifying that is still coding.

    Saying that writing HTML is not coding is just being elitist. My coding is "real" coding. your "coding" is mere... ?... ?... Just not coding. Hrumph..........

  23. Jan 20, 2017 #22
    you should have to used the dreamweaver
  24. Jan 20, 2017 #23


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    No, you should not use dreamweaver unless it suits your needs. I have a very extensive web site and I would never think of using dreamweaver for it (or anything similar for that matter).
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