Friday, June 25, 2004

Web page editor woes — bad tools let down hobbyist pages

In some entirely frivolous browsing last week-end, I encountered a hobbyist site which had clearly seen a lot of hard work put into it in terms of graphical design - colour scheme, layout, decorations - and was let down by having been implemented using Yahoo PageBuilder.

Not only had it laced the entire page with <font> tags, it also did all its layout using CSS absolute positioned <div>s with in-line style declarations, each containing a one row, one column <table>, adding up to 20% of the html file in dead weight. And, worse, images and later insertions into the text had been placed into new <div>s, with the underlying text having <br> and &nbsp; inserted to make room. WHich only worked if you use the exact same set-up as the author. Given that Windows lays out text differently depending on the graphic driver, let alone any other variable, this meant that I saw text over text, and image over text. As I wanted to read the page, I had to slurp it down and rework the mark-up myself.

Worse, when I did so, I found that all the mark-up was presentational - no <p>s (just <br>s), no <h#>s, not even any <ul>s when the page contained a contents list, that should have been a list with sub-lists and each <li>s containing an in-page link to the appropriate section header.

This reminds me of the nasty code generated by Serif PagePlus which is the tool my father has used to put together a trial page (not on-line), which managed to combine this abuse of CSS positioning with ending up with something that looked like "my first web page. c.1993", without even the grace to contain purely structural HTML2.0 tags like <h1> and <p>.

Is there, I wonder, a free, hobbyist level (not geeks like myself) editor that actually produces well structured code?

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