Why You Should Avoid WYSIWYG HTML Editors for Now
Instructor: Nadine Wettlaufer

You could use any text editor or word processor to write HTML as long as it can save ASCII text files. However, certain programs end up being much more practical, easy to use, and helpful. BBEdit (for Mac) is a great program for editing HTML, because it saves in the right format, foregrounds the actual HTML tags, and because it gives you access to helpful (and powerful) HTML editing tools without taking away your control over tags or limiting your understanding of what is going on.

WYSIWYG HTML editors are not recommended for learning HTML, at first. WYSIWYG stands for "What You See Is What You Get"; it refers to how such programs do not require you to know HTML tags to get some results, and to how they try to simulate what the page will look like inside a browser. WYSIWYG editors include programs like DreamWeaver, GoLive, Composer, FrontPage, etc.

People who try to learn HTML with such programs will find it very hard to ever learn the tags properly. Such people become dependant on WYSIWYG editors, which always change, go out of date, have quirks, take away some of your control over tags, and can sometimes act incorrectly. WYSIWYG editors ultimately cannot save you, for example, if you do not understand table structure, or can't figure out why your frames aren't loading correctly. You have to understand the tags themselves.

WYSIWYG HTML editing software is eminently suitable for a professional person who solidly understands the fundamental HTML structures and tags, and has to produce large and complex web sites. It is _not_ that WYSIWYGs are inherently bad! But anyone who wants to do any serious work with HTML needs to learn the structures and tags solidly first, and that usually means staying away from WYSIWYGs until you are required to use them, or until your HTML skills are more solid.

Many employers in the new media industry express a strong preference for hiring people who know actual HTML code, not just how to use a WYSIWYG. This makes a lot of sense, because coders (especially those who later learn a WYSIWYG) can troubleshoot websites better than those people who only know how to use a WYSIWYG.