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Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Like My Website Strong And Black

Last year I created the be.bart website to learn XHTML and CSS. For those of you who think I suddenly switched to Chinese, those are languages to make-up websites. My idea at the time was also to have a place to gather information that’s useful for me, but might also be useful to others. And to ridicule people without running the risk of violent physical reactions and bombardments with food items that are seriously over their consummation limit.

The result is a somewhat – erm – eclectic site with a lot of dead ends. You see, I made the site during a time when my situation at work (previous work that is) was infinitely less than pleasant. In fact, it was an all-out global conflict between yours truly and the powers that were supposed to direct the organisation I worked for. It was an incessant psychological war, and the site helped me to pass the many lonely hours when I couldn’t do anything because the executive board blocked me or got so much on my nerves that I just couldn’t get anything done. Then I changed jobs, got married, bought a house and a car and before you know it I barely had the time to set up and maintain this weblog. The website came to a dead stop, and it shows. So high time for a refurbishing exercise.

When I set up the website, I didn’t own a digital camera yet. So now I want to put more emphasis on my attempts at becoming a Magnum photographer. But making web pages with lots of photos directly in XHTML is a bit tedious and time-consuming to say the least, and also gives a result that is too rigid. So I started to look around for an application that allows you to do a What You See Is What You Get (if you’re very lucky) or WYSIWIG lay-out, while still having the possibility to tinker around with the code itself when it’s needed. I also wanted to continue with the use of CSS to determine the overall lay-out of the site.

There are very nice applications that let you do all that and more. They also cost all that and more. I don’t mind paying a bit for such a program, but I still have 24 and a half years of monthly instalments to pay for my house, which I’m also not willing to sell just to buy the likes of Adobe Dreamweaver. Before someone yells ‘Microsoft’, I did try Frontpage but I like my code to be W3C-compliant instead of in some Billgatian dialect. On the other hand there are loads of applications (even free ones) that are very easy to use and help you set up a website in minutes. Even a retarded cucumber can set up a website that way, but there’s generally no room for more (I tried CoffeeCup’s VisualSite Designer). If you want to add code you have to load it in another editor, assuming that this is at all possible. In between you have applications that try but fail to meet my requirements. They are difficult to handle, or rather they are unpredictable and give unstable results. I had a go at NVU for a while, but that wasn’t satisfying. I had to switch back and forth between NVU and my trusted (but not WYSIWIG) HTML Kit and NVU kept messing up the code.

So it’s either selling the house, get a lobotomy or make do with crap programmes. But then I discovered CoffeeCup’s HTML editor. I thought this was also a code editor, but it combines a code editor with a WYSIWIG graphical editor. Inserting photos is a snatch with this thing and although it has some quirks, it has the right balance between idiot-proof and being useful for technophiles and professionals. I have the feeling it will allow me to further learn website design and programming, without costing me an arm and a leg. So I hope it won’t be long before I can show you some results, although you shouldn’t expect a drastic re-design. It will be more subtle than that.

Posted by Bart at 10:22 PM
Categories: ICT - Inevitable Computer Troubles


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