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Handcoding Websites Line by Line

written by: yokonative•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/12/2012

Developing a website usually involves some kind of aid. However, is it better to hand code?

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    Hand coding, that is writing code line by line, has many advantages over using help from an application. As a hand coder myself, I must say that the disadvantages, the few that do exist, in no way shape or form outweigh the advantages and thus should be something that all do. Alas, hand coding isn't for everyone. Lets go over the Pros and Cons shall we?

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    typing My favorite advantage of hand coding over anything else, is that since you have gone through and line by line developed your website, you have a full understanding of what you have done. Thus, you can find and fix problems a mile away and expand when needed with ease. Without knowing how tags are labeled or what kind of elements are used, formatting elements is much more difficult. Was a table used or a div? Is that an h1 element or a span element with some CSS formatting? Who knows! You will have to go through all that code to understand it, a step made automatically when you hand code.

    Besides knowing exactly what is going on, you are able to efficiently develop your website. You know what you want to do and know what code you will have to write in order to do it. On the flip side, when using help such as a WYSIWYG editor, you will get lots of extra code that for the most part you will not need. This creates a huge headache for the web developer. With all that extra code, problems can pop up so much easier, the page will load slower and you will have to inevitably learn what was done and fix it meet your needs.

    Does hand coding seem much better to you yet? Keep reading then!

    Lets focus on you as the web developer. You have a thorough and fluent grasp on several web development languages thus allowing you to meet the needs of any situation using any tool or aid to achieve your goal. Now lets say you need to find a new job and they are using a program you have not used before. With the fluency in the languages used, you will practically not need to use the program. If you did, you will be able to learn it quickly since you understand how to develop on your own.

    Hand coding helping you get and keep a job; if that doesn't convert you to a hand coder, I don't know what will!

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    Though I am somewhat biased on this topic since I am a full supporter of hand coding, I am aware that hand coding may not be for everyone.

    dwLogo The most apparent disadvantage is hand coding is that since you must learn a whole language and be fluent in it, it may take a long time for someone to learn if they have not worked with it before. Plus, if you don't have an instructor teaching you the core of web languages like HTML, CSS & JavaScript, it will be difficult for one to fully understand.

    Further more, in a design aspect, you tend to lose creative control over the projects as you are so much more focused on the code then anything else. You will have an understanding on how things work, but the design and user interface will matter less than the development. Though this is true, with the help of aids like Dreamweaver, you can overcome this. Thanks Adobe!

    Lastly I have to admit, that hand coding takes time. You must type line by line by yourself and you will make mistakes while you type and you must correct those mistakes. When developing something with lots of repetition in the code, it tends to get monotonous and we tend to not focus as much since we thing we know exactly what we are doing. I have to say, having a wizard that make tables for me and repeating steps for me is really convenient.

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    In conclusion, I still believe that hand-coding makes much more sense but there is nothing wrong with getting help with an aid such as Adobe's Dreamweaver to help me with the design of my work. Being able to see my work instantly helps not only in my development but keeps the design in my mind to develop better than I would without the help.

    However, in any kind of web development, you need to have a grasp of the languages you are using in order to do the best work possible. Besides, how can you work for anyone not knowing how to whip out some code from your head?