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Old 02-06-2007, 06:17 PM   #1
Daine
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Default Newbie designer recommendations

Hi all,

First an aside...
I have to admit that the folding of the CIS forum and my daily life kind of coincided so I am not here too often but each time I do come by, I am glad to see a lot of the folks are still here.

A close friend of mine wants to learn enough to put together a site for himself. It is happening now because he will soon be operated on and will have multiple weeks of down time where he won't be able to do much more than work on a PC so the timing, for better or worse, is right.

So, what I told him is that there are a multitude of programs one can use, Dreamweaver, NetObjects Fusion, Front Page, etc.
That I am partial to my old version (3) of Dreamweaver as it does what I need and is respected to produce pretty clean results. Results that work pretty well across browsers.
At the same time I briefly described the options of basic HTML, Tables, Layers and CSS. And that it is possible to obtain some pretty good style sheets for a fairly low cost.

Now mind you, my ability pretty much stopped at basic sites designed using tables and as I said Dreamweaver 3. I have virtually no clue to the advancements and changes in the web design world since then.

So, should I have him consider some other program besides DW?
Are the purchasable style sheets a good idea for him. Actually, are they worth looking at in general?
Any other suggestions?

Thanks, Daine
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:04 PM   #2
don Arnoldy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daine View Post
I am not here too often but each time I do come by, I am glad to see a lot of the folks are still here.
Its good to see you back.

Since your friend
  • wants to put together 1 site
  • has "multiple weeks of down time"
I would suggest that he take those multiple weeks, and learn how to hand code his site.

A text processor (like word pad) a browser --both of which he should already have installed--and a good book on CSS will make those weeks pass very quickly <G>.

   
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Old 02-07-2007, 04:37 AM   #3
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Default Newbie designer recommendations cont.

Quote:
Originally Posted by don Arnoldy View Post
Since your friend
  • wants to put together 1 site
  • has "multiple weeks of down time"
I would suggest that he take those multiple weeks, and learn how to hand code his site.

A text processor (like word pad) a browser --both of which he should already have installed--and a good book on CSS will make those weeks pass very quickly <G>.
Yea, the time would go by quickly but boy, you are one for punishment

Seriously, is that realistic?
Quite honestly, knowing what I know about how much work site construction is and the need for some gratification of getting results, I would not do that myself, and didn't.
That said, I fully realize that truly knowing the base line functions of HTML is the best way but for someone that will only occasionally be tinkering?

As I have done nothing with CSS, I have no feeling for the balance between learning curve and results against the desired end product but to take your comment further, your feeling is that CSS is the way to go?

Looking at it another way...
He is a bright guy but not a computer or design geek. With that in mind, how long do you think it would take to get comfortable with that way of working before one would have "useable" results?

Daine
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Old 02-07-2007, 05:41 AM   #4
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How large or complex is his site?

Using CSS makes it much easier to work with multiple pages — generally, one stylesheet can do for all, and any change is transmitted instantly to all the pages. (Or he could have supplemental stylesheets for odd pages with different requirements.)

Learning enough to create the first page using XHTML and CSS might take two or three days. After that, the pages need content, mostly.

If his site is complex or requires many frequent changes, he might want to move later to software that does site management (or just use those functions in Dreamweaver). Or use some other solution altogether (maybe WordPress or, more ambitiously, Joomla).

But no matter what, his knowledge of XHTML and CSS will help him troubleshoot his pages. And learning it is a lot of fun.

   
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Old 02-07-2007, 06:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
How large or complex is his site?

Using CSS makes it much easier to work with multiple pages — generally, one stylesheet can do for all, and any change is transmitted instantly to all the pages. (Or he could have supplemental stylesheets for odd pages with different requirements.)

Learning enough to create the first page using XHTML and CSS might take two or three days. After that, the pages need content, mostly.

If his site is complex or requires many frequent changes, he might want to move later to software that does site management (or just use those functions in Dreamweaver). Or use some other solution altogether (maybe WordPress or, more ambitiously, Joomla).

But no matter what, his knowledge of XHTML and CSS will help him troubleshoot his pages. And learning it is a lot of fun.
Well the size and structure is not yet clear, we just talked about it last night but I told him that the first step was to draw it out on paper to get a physical representation of what and where.

That said, I don't expect it will be large, likely just a few pages. Home page, a previous projects/client page, a work sample page, resume page and perhaps a photo album of job sites.

I think anything "more" than DW would be over kill but the question would be, what version of DW is enough? I am still at ver 3.
And can you suggest a good on-line primer for XHTML?
I could use it too

Daine
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Old 02-07-2007, 06:57 AM   #6
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If getting into CSS (almost mandatory these days) have your friend download firefox and then install the css plugin (sorry can't remember the name at the moment). This allows you to view in the browser the various css elements and info that make up a css page.
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:51 AM   #7
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If getting into CSS (almost mandatory these days) have your friend download firefox and then install the css plugin (sorry can't remember the name at the moment). This allows you to view in the browser the various css elements and info that make up a css page.
I think you mean the Web Developer extension, and you are right — indispensable!

   
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Old 02-07-2007, 07:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daine View Post
Well the size and structure is not yet clear, we just talked about it last night but I told him that the first step was to draw it out on paper to get a physical representation of what and where.

That said, I don't expect it will be large, likely just a few pages. Home page, a previous projects/client page, a work sample page, resume page and perhaps a photo album of job sites.

I think anything "more" than DW would be over kill but the question would be, what version of DW is enough? I am still at ver 3.
That strikes me as the ideal size for a hand-coded site, and an ideal learning experience. Truly. It is about what I learned with, in fact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daine
And can you suggest a good on-line primer for XHTML?
I could use it too
Not a coherent one, no. I used an older edition of Elizabeth Castro’s HTML, XHTL, & CSS, Sixth Edition, and she has a companion web site with all the examples and updates after printing. It has a sort of cookbook format that holds your hand somewhat if you want, and is also a good reference. (The link is to her site; you can usually get a discount on the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.)

You can also take a look at some examples from her 5th Edition, which also covers XHTML. But I am not sure it would suffice as a primer.

Once he/you get your feet wet, there are many web sites that may help, but few offer anything like primers. And of course there are several members here who love to talk about and help troubleshoot CSS and web sites.

   
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Old 02-07-2007, 08:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daine View Post
That said, I don't expect it will be large, likely just a few pages. Home page, a previous projects/client page, a work sample page, resume page and perhaps a photo album of job sites.
DreamWeaver is way overkill for a site of that size. DW is at its best doing what it is made for, managing large sites, especially dynamic ones, or a large number of sites. It is not possible to create good results without a basic knowledge of XHTML and CSS, and DW is not a beast to learn these skills on! I would suggest HomeSite which most of us "mature folk" in web development cut our teeth on! It not only helps with the coding process, but can switch back and forwards between code and browser view. Other options would be NVu and Arachnophilia, both free, although the latter has become more difficult to use & understand for the beginner.

If he is commited to the DreamWeaver route, then DW8 is the earliest version I would recommend, as it has good built in XHTML and CSS tools. This version is a little long in the tooth now (one upgrade package has been released) and DW9 is supposedly in the late stages of development - this will include AJAX support as well as template editors for Moveable Type and Wordpress, amongst others. Release date is rumoured to be Q2 2007.

Books I would suggest are HTML Utopia: Designing Without Tables Using CSS by Rachel Andrew & Dan Scafer which is an excellent primer in CSS and in site creation without resorting to old HTML tables (except for data). The second book for learning DW8 is Build Your Own Standards Compliant Website Using DreamWeaver 8 by Rachel Andrew. This assumes CSS knowledge. Both title assume a basic working knowledge of XHTML and both are published by SitePoint.

   
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Old 02-14-2007, 01:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daine View Post
I think anything "more" than DW would be over kill but the question would be, what version of DW is enough? I am still at ver 3.
And can you suggest a good on-line primer for XHTML?
I could use it too
Dreamweaver is not a beginner's tool, and whatever they claim, you actually do need to have at least basic knowledge of (X)HTML to use it well and efficiently. Handcoding is the way to start - even if you later "upgrade" to a WYSIWYG tool - and XHTML actually is pretty easy to learn (easier than HTML, not "maybes" and "optionals" about it - just simlpe consistent rules).

A pretty nice primer I found here: XHTML Web Design for Beginners - Part 2 (there doesn't seem to be a "Part 1" - but don't worry, this really starts at the beginning )
There's another site that I still have to hunt down, I've forgotten the URL - w3schools is often mentioned, but the one I've seen is actually a lot better than that. Will post when I find it back.

I agree with others that for starter tools you'll need a simple multi-page text editor for XHTML (many free ones, most have HTML syntax highlightig these days) plus TopStyle lite for CSS. All that will cost is some time finding a text editor that suits you. I just came across Crimson Editor which looks nice and petty powerful, but I haven't tried it yet (I soon will!). This Google search should turn up more.

Edit: I've installed Crimson editor, and quite like it (fast, light, and very capable and configurable) - and also found that there were no updates since the release of version 3.70 in 2004... A bit more googling turned up Emerald Editor, an open-source successor to Crimson Editor; the project was started by some faithful CE users. The source code of CE has now been released (December 2006), but the Emerald Editor team is not using it, though it meant to be a natural successor. But there's no install yet... I'll also try PSPad which looks interesting, too. Yes, I am looking for a light-weight editor with good (adaptable) syntax coloring, so this thread made a good start for me, too.

   
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Last edited by iamback; 02-14-2007 at 03:12 AM.
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