Member Rara Avis
I agree with Craig. Writing HTML by hand is like writing the Great American Novel with a quill pen and six inches of ruled paper. It can be done, it has been done, it even sounds romantic - but it ain't necessarily very efficient. Any writer who values their time will learn to use a word processor. And web designer with similar values will find a good WYSIWYG program.
Yes, even the best programs will produce bloated code, with unnecessary tags (usually font tags). So what? You're often talking a few score bytes per page, usually not enough to worry about. And in those cases where it does matter, it's still better to use the WYSIWYG and then strip the redundant tags.
However, in spite of that, I still end up coding a lot of HTML by hand - because it's embedded in the programs that run the forums. Athena technically creates all these web pages, but only because I showed her how I wanted it done. Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a WYSIWYG environment for Perl or C.
A program like FrontPage or Dreamweaver really comes into its own, though, when you're talking not about page design, but rather site management. As sites grow, they almost inevitably need to be reorganized - but creating a new subdirectory and moving a hundred pages into can be a bit daunting when you have change all those links by hand. A good program will manage that nightmare for you, automatically changing links in a thousand pages when you start moving things around. I've reorganized the main site three times in two years and, with about 18,000 pages, you can well imagine how long it would have taken by hand.
Passions is a little unusual, though, and that's the reason I answered "all three" in my earlier response. I use a WYSIWYG program (FrontPage) to create templates, which are then edited and fine-tuned by hand (only because I know there's going to be a LOT of pages using them), then loaded into a database system - which also contains all the poetry submitted (and votes, and subscriptions, and author data, etc). The database program then generates all the core pages, from menus, to poems, to votes and author indexes, insuring that all the read-next-poem links are lined up in neat little rows. The disadvantage to this system is that I don't "add" pages to the main site, but rather upload the entire site every time the poetry is updated. It would be much easier on me to maintain the poetry database on Ceres (or, eventually, Athena) and let the server create the pages on demand. But what would be easier on me would probably kill the poor server. Delivering static HTML is almost nothing to Ceres, a simple read and pass it out the door. Creating pages, for the amount of traffic the main site see, would need a whole server farm.
So, yea, I use all three.
(Craig, this is for you. If you open Notepad more than once a month, this is definitely worth the download time. TextPad )