While I was studying HTML in my high school classes, I wondered why we can’t create web pages the way we create documents in Open Office Writer (In those days, we used this word processor, It’s an open-source alternative to MS Word).
I asked my teacher, why we need to write HTML code (a markup language) to create a web page? Can’t we use a software tool similar to a word processor?
He didn’t explain me why; instead, he showed me a software app where we can build web pages like in a word processor. And he told, WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get.
I looked for the name of the software; it showed Dreamweaver.
The main feature of a WYSIWYG Editor is its live view editor. We use this feature all day while creating a .doc document or while typing an email. We type the text make it bold or italic, give it colors, add images and add links. Everything appears on the screen as you do it so this is a WYSIWYG editor.
When the user creates a web page visually in the WYSIWYG editor, the program will do all the coding in the back end.
When it comes to the traditional web development, this is not the way we create web pages. We open a text editor and write some code and save it. When we open the document in a browser, we see the final output. In this case, we can’t see what the result would look like while typing the code.
Most WYSIWYG editors have three modes. All these modes can be easily accessed with a single click.
Visual Editor: This tool offers the WYSIWYG features and it allows users to create web documents like one would do in a word processor. However, this view doesn’t provide the most accurate representation of the web page. It would have some additional guides and borders around web page components to help the users understand the layout.
Code View: This shows a text editor where we can see the code of the web page we created using the visual editor. We can also write code in this text editor and it will be applied to the document. The code view may have common user-friendly features like syntax-highlighting, automatic code completion and code collapsing.
Preview Mode: This mode shows the true representation of the web page. We can choose different screen sizes to see how it would look like on different devices and different screen sizes.
Why WYSIWYG in Web Development?A substantial knowledge of web languages like HTML and CSS was required to create web pages. Some people thought about creating a web development environment where users can create web documents like they would create an email or documents.
With this, users no longer have to know web languages to create web pages. It is easy and fast. We can create the content and format it by watching what we do. WYSISYG editors helped many people to try a hand in web development even though don’t know HTML or CSS.
Some web development teachers use this tool to teach students HTML and CSS. They build the content on the WYSIWYG editor and show the students the code generated by the tool.
Apart from the visual editor, most of the WYSIWYG editors offer additional features to help the users in web development. Some programs also feature an FTP along with the editor. It allows users to connect the web pages created using the Editor with the server. It helps users to upload the finished projects to the server as well as to download files from the server or edit live website.
Popular WYSIWYG EditorsWYSYWIG is an amazing tool that allows anyone to create and upload websites. There are many WYSIWYG software programs out there and here is a list of top WYSIWYG editors.
Adobe DreamweaverThis might be the most popular WYSIWYG editor in the market. It is a feature-rich integrated development environment tool from Adobe. This tool has 4 view modes to help the users build the web pages and see how it looks. Dreamweaver supports a slew of languages.
• Code view: Users can see and write or modify the code in this view mode.
• Design: This view offers the actual visual editor canvas where we create our web pages.
• Split: The window is split into two and one part shows the code and the other part shows the visual editor.
• Live View: It allows the users to see how the web page would like in a browser. Dreamweaver offers additional facilities to adjust the screen sizes in the live view mode.
AmayaThis is an amazing tool from the WWW consortium. This can be used to browse the web and edit the pages. This tool is great for managing small websites and making small modifications on the website.
Microsoft Expression WebThis tool is almost similar to Adobe Dreamweaver and provides more or less the same features. However, it is observed that the code generated by Dreamweaver much cleaner than the code created by Expression Web. This tool is available only for Windows OS.
Froala EditorThis is a web-based light-weight WYSIWYG editor with lots of cool features. The tool can be extended with amazing plugins. Adding and modifying the content using the visual editor can be done fast.
CriticismMany web developers consider building websites using a WYSIWYG editor as a bad practice. They argue it didn’t give much control over the code.
Moreover, the actual code is generated automatically and therefore, the code may affect the performance of the web.
The poor code may also affect the search engine ranking which is an important concern for the businesses.
Managing the code created by them would be a headache and therefore web developers don’t use WYSIWYG editors to build a website.
Anti-criticismThe supporters of the WYSIWYG editors argue that the design of the website is very important when it comes to the effectiveness.
The layout of the web pages, typography and color psychology etc. are the most important. The success of a website is determined by the end result. The important thing is whether the website actually helps the company to prosper. It doesn’t matter what tool or technique used to build the website.
Print designers with great knowledge of design may not know coding to modify the design of a website but a WYSIWYG offers them the opportunity to modify the website.