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Re: [css-d] OT: Lack of Knowledge and the Web Factory

Sent by Ben Henick on 29 January 2002 22:10

The comments below are trolling-in-return which I figure I can get away 
with because of my well-known stance on the subject...

On Tue, 29 Jan 2002, Ziya Oz wrote:

> > I'm going to guess the lack of knowledge is due to the proliferation of
> > WYSIWYG *tools.* 
> Since no one else has come to the defense of visual tools, I will.

Even though they're indefensible, at least when put into the hands of 
people who haven't also taken the time to learn HTML et. al.

> Are we worse off for having visual page layout tools or should we go back to
> hand coding PostScript?

Of course not.  Though it helps that when it comes to a sheet of paper we 

1.  Its exact dimensions
2.  The resolution at which it will be imprinted
3.  The ink used to do that imprinting, and its characteristics
4.  That we don't have to worry about which operating system the reader's 

To that we can add an educated guess about the amount of ambient light 
available for reading the document, which will more often be wrong than 

If only Web designers could have it so good.

> Are we worse off for having visual movie editing tools or should we go back
> to green-on-black terminals?

See above:  you know the I/O environment.  Not so on the Web.

> Are we worse off for having GUIs or should we all go back to the dark ages
> of the CLI?

As fortune would have it, I'm composing this message on a terminal-based 
client.  CLI's are not obsolete, and if you don't know that then you've 
never really tried to use one.

But of course CLI's aren't as "user-friendly" either.

...And if someone who's dependent on a GUI to operate their system needs 
to fix it - or even do work outside of the bounds of the tools made 
available via the GUI - they're in big trouble most of the time.

> Do you think you'd even have a job currently as a web developer if it hadn't
> been for the proliferation of visual tools that fueled the critical mass of
> the HTML universe we have today?

Um, yes.

HTML is pathetically easy to learn.  As are (singly) JavaScript, CSS, 
Photoshop, etc.  They're tools.

The rate-of-adoption of the Web has nothing to do with the tools used to 
create it, and everything to do with the information that can be conveyed 
by it.

Lotsa people  - and many on this list - were making money building sites 
long before Dreamweaver, GoLive, or FrontPage were ever on the radar.

> Are you suggesting that people don't generate feeble code when not using
> visual tools?

See comments about "knowing HTML et. al." above.

> Do you think CSS has any chance of getting traction without visual tools
> making it easier for designers and others to adopt it?

Probably not.  Question is, will those (as yet unbuilt) tools implement 
CSS properly?

> I know it's fashionable to dump on visual tools as if knowing how to set
> properties for some divs by hand is some achievement that could obviate good
> judgment, a sense of proportion, ability to structure and plain design
> moxie.

Here - finally - is where I start to agree with you.

Production != design.

But if you asked any design school instructor if they'd recommend a 
student for a gig involving a medium they had never learned about, their 
response would probably come in the form of laughter.

Design in the broad sense is medium-independent.

But I'd like to see you prove that anyone can put together a brilliant 
design without having strong knowledge of the medium for which that design 
is being executed.

> Three cheers for visual tools, and may they continue to get better.

I'll start cheering for them AFTER they get better.

Ben Henick
Web Author At-Large              Managing Editor
[EMAIL-REMOVED]                  [EMAIL-REMOVED]
"Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?"
"I think so, Brain, but... (snort) no, no, it's too stupid."
"We will disguise ourselves as a cow."
"Oh!" (giggles) "That was it exactly!"
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