Dreamweaver Versus Notepad

So whenever I tell people that I write my markup in a txt editor, they immediately ask why I don’t use Dreamweaver. I think that the debate over using a prepackaged HTML/CSS/etc. editor versus a plain old text editor is a very interesting one. However, because I’m right all the time, I’ve got the answer!

It seems to me that when you are learning HTML or CSS, or even Javascript or PHP, you should really learn in a text editor like Notepad. This is how I taught myself almost everything I know today, from scratch. The text editor will offer you no guidance. It cannot check your code for missing closing tags or quote marks; it cannot validate your markup, and it won’t auto-complete anything. In my opinion, this is the best way to learn a language. It truly forces you to understand what you are doing, and encourages you to write clean code because admittedly, the process is more arduous. I find that my understanding of HTML and CSS came out of having to track down my missing tags or incorrect CSS.

Now luckily, there are some proprietary editors out there like Dreamweaver. I’ve used Dreamweaver many times, and find myself using it more and more often. Once you feel you have mastered whatever language you are learning, then you should feel comfortable moving towards one of these proprietary editors because they do have a lot of benefits. Now that you are careful in your coding, you can reap the benefits of Dreamweaver automatically closing tags, checking for errors, validating your code, and autocompleting many other things as well.

Dreamweaver is especially nice when working with multiple files (like if you are using PHP with array and master/template files). It colors different parts of your code to help your mind parse the information out more easily. It even has a split view so you can see the end result along side your code. I personally don’t like this feature because it just encourages backtracking in your already well learned coding skills.

So, my advice? Learn in Notepad, then move on to Dreamweaver!

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