I’m not easily bothered by things, and most people who’ve met me can attest to this.
If things aren’t working right, I manage to take things in stride. No Worries.
But Adobe Pagemill gets to me. Last time I used it, I was almost shaking by the time
I was done. Three times out of four, I gave up using Pagemill and edited the HTML by
hand, only to have Pagemill thrash the HTML when it reloaded the page.
So if it gets to me so much, why do I use Pagemill? I personally don’t, and wouldn’t
recommend that anyone use Pagemill for any purpose. Especially if you’re making
a page with frames, but that’s another story.
I was using Pagemill in this case because I am doing some consulting for a Professor
here at Berkeley who is attempting to create and maintain a somewhat large scale site.
Which uses frames. Pagemill is NOT the right tool for this job.
Part of the problem is that Pagemill creates that illusion that making a Web Page and maintaining
a Web Page is an easy thing. As it turns out, making a web page with Pagemill is somewhat trivial,
but maintaining a page in Pagemill is nigh impossible, and given that most web sites are updated,
this creates quite a problem when a simple change needs to be made to the entire site. Perhaps a
method exists to do this in Pagemill, but it is not intuitive.
Pagemill isn’t the only WYSIWYG HTML Editor I’ve toyed with. I’ve tried Claris Homepage (Which I
think is gone these days), Microsoft FrontPage, Netscape Composer and numerous others. All of them
seem to make the same ghastly assumption, which is that the product is being used to edit a web page,
and not a web site
For some users and for some uses, this may be acceptable, but for most of the tasks on the web,
people are probably setting out to create a site, with a common appearance and navigation features,
along with a common layout to make it easy for users to move from page to page. These programs
allow for limited forms of styles and allow for templates, but my experiences with all of these
programs shows that the templates and styles are only good for making new pages which match the
old pages made with the same style. Updating all the pages which used an old style to use a new
style seems to be a mind boggleingly difficult task which requires quite a lot of advance planning
and design. Unfortunately, no one ever reads the manuals and realizes this fact before they jump
in and make their first four pages, and then when they figure out that they want to change the look
of the pages, they realize they have to do it page by page, and they don’t want to learn a new
system of using styles and recreate the pages they’ve already made.
So when it comes to updating a page with one of these programs, you have to reformat the whole thing.
When you do a lot of cutting and pasting and deleting and inserting in these WYSIWYG programs, the
HTML gets really screwy. The program grinds the page to a pulp, like a mill would corn. After three
or four iterations of the page, the HTML is so messy that even the program that created it has trouble
handling it, and changing the page to look like something near isn’t possible.
Despite these problems, these cheap programs continue to be popular with people, because it allows them
to have their very own little spot on the web, and say to their friends “Go visit my web page at
There are two notable exceptions to
the above discussion, which are Macromedia Dreamweaver and Go Live’s CyberStudio. Unfortunately,
GoLive was bought by Adobe last fall, and so I fear the fate of that fine program. Normally, Adobe
makes the best tools for the job, but for some reason, they’ve managed to bungle over and over their
attempts at making a Web Design tool.
What I’m looking for in a Web Design tool is something that seamlessly allows me to design and use
Server Side Includes to lay out my pages, which is something that I’ve never seen in a Web Design
tool. But if someday someone designed that tool right, I would probably buy it. And then proceed
to not use it, because it probably wouldn’t be for Linux, and I already have a complex system set
up to do updates to this page.
And I’d write the program to do all that myself, but the Market is saturated, and it wouldn’t sell
well, because I would write it for Linux. Though I imagine a lot of people would use it if it were
well done, even if it were for Linux.