Why Dreamweaver is Making You Lazy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Adobe Dreamweaver. The general idea behind Dreamweaver is that it’s a tool that helps programmers create websites – but in reality, the sole purpose of the program is to allow anyone to list ‘Web Programmer’ under their occupational skill set. It’s a jammed packed program for the feature-crazy addict. Even without the over-bloating of features that create table structure, style your page, embed image and website links with the click of a button, and in the newer versions even create animated AJAX menus – the mere fact that they have a ‘design’ view is the first and major giveaway that Dreamweaver is, in fact, not a ‘real programmers’ tool – and it’s making you lazy.

Now, whether I’m blasted for this or not, it is my honest opinion that any web programmer should, for all intents and purposes, be able to open notepad or any other form of basic text editor and create a website. If you don’t know how to do this (and this accounts for the occasional lack of proper syntax), then you’re not a programmer – plain and simple.

I should also mention the hypocrisy of what I’m writing considering my daily programming happens to take place in none other than the aforementioned program; however, it was not without some major kicking and screaming that I was dragged back to this program – I will get into that later.

I’m not saying Dreamweaver doesn’t have it uses, but with those conveniences, to which I can count with one hand, it comes with a load of irritations. In some ways it depends on what type of programming you’re doing and how you structure your code. Dreamweaver likes to believe it has a brain, and there is no way to turn it off. They do give you a cluster of settings, many of which make absolutely no sense – but if you’re anything like me (and I’ll flatter myself to think that you are), you just start pressing buttons and unchecking checkboxes in a desperate attempt to avoid the flashing “syntax error” panel, because let’s face it, every feature you can turn off is one less headache by the end of the day. Needless to say it’s a bulky program with features that attempt to be useful, like highlighting tags that happen to have duplicate attributes, for instance – yes, maybe this sounds like a wonderful feature, until you get into PHP Programming where conditional statements run rampant and logic would clearly show that the attributes, in fact, are not duplicates. I guess in some ways it wouldn’t bother me if their so-called “helpfulness” wouldn’t degrade the useful features – like color-coding for example – every time you run into the slightest error, it loses its mind and all sense of the coloring you’re accustom to.

You’re probably starting to wonder where this rant is really came from, but to be honest is has been a long time coming. There are only so many times you can press “Ok” on the error that seems to think that there is something wrong “While executing” whatever non-existent JavaScript you have on the page before you want to grab Shantanu Narayen and wring him by the neck. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I imagine every time that blue screen of death makes an appearance on the monitor your mind goes to worse places about Bill Gates (I can thankfully say that I’m typing this up on a MacBook Pro – Steve Jobs can thank Bill Gates for that leap of faith.) To add to my plethora of side notes, if you don’t know what the Blue Screen of Death is, then you don’t use Microsoft Windows as much as you think you do.

I guess in a way you can’t really blame anyone for using programs like Dreamweaver; our world has trained us to be lazy. I don’t know about you, but I find that every time I vacuum I get overly exhausted at the difficult nature of this task that I want nothing more than a small robot to race around my floor picking up the dirt – while I, of course, spend more time following it around making sure it has actually cleans everything (which it didn’t) – but, need not doubt, they assure me it’s more convenient. Let’s not forget to mention how cumbersome parallel parking is! I’m not sure about you, but I know that I used to go to bed every night hoping that someday someone would take this dreadful task off my hands (thanks Ford). As another side note, people who use that feature should have their licenses removed.

With all that said, I have to admit that I have yet to find a program that does what I need it to do as simply as Dreamweaver. Maybe that sounds contradicting and a little confusing considering all I have said – but it’s the truth. There is nothing I hate more than having to use 2 different programs to do something that should be natively embedded. What I’m referring to is the ability to code and the ability to FTP in the same program. Yes, I know, it’s an insane combination but it’s more difficult to find than you might think. I know that you’ve probably got a list going in your head of programs that you know that already do this – but I can safely say they don’t do it as well or as organized as Dreamweaver – it’s the only thing that keeps me clicking that little green button everyday. So, yes, I put up with the insane popups, inconsistent color-coding, and flashy syntax error bars for the sole purpose of being able to FTP my files. I should also mention that I don’t use a MacBook at work and this rant really applies to windows programs specifically (if you’re on a Mac, you should consider Coda)

Before I end this, I do have to say that in the newest edition of Dreamweaver (CS5), they did fix a lot in the error checking features when it comes to PHP problems – so, if you’re looking at programming in PHP and can’t imagine your life without Dreamweaver  (as well as have the desire to maintain a relatively small portion of your sanity), I would suggest CS5 as your version of the program.

As a conclusion I would like to state that if you’re just the average Joe, and you’re too cheap to pay a professional to make your website, I ask of you one thing – live without a website until you can afford a professional. There is no lack of terribly programmed websites out there, you don’t need to be adding the chaos; however, if you’re an aspiring Programmer who is looking to get their feet wet, or just need a good program to create your self-inspired work of art – stay away from Dreamweaver. Save yourself from the eternal and tormenting dance of this feature-heavy so-called Programming “tool” – trust me, you’ll be better for it.

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