August 08, 2007
I'm Just Sayin'

I am officially and completely fed up with the WYSIWYG (visual) web editor in Visual Studio 2005. There have been drag and drop "place the button anywhere you please" editors on the market since at least 1998. I know, I've used one of the oldest ones out there for years. And MS's latest visual web composing tool? I guess if you got a lot of formal training in CSS, the workflow might make sense, but it sure doesn't to me. All the crashes and bugs don't help much either.

I want to drag my control out and drop it on the damned page wherever I please. If I want to scoot it here, or scoot it there, I should be able to! The coding tools VS2k5 has are amazing. My coding productivity is through the roof. But their layout editor is a gigantic exercise in extreme frustration. If one part is that easy, the other has no business being that hard.

I know, I know. I'll eventually get my head around it and get over it. I'm just bitter that I'll have all this beautiful code with all these ugly interfaces sitting on top of it. I'm a better designer than this, but the tools won't let me show it.

Bah, I tell you. Bah.

Posted by scott at August 08, 2007 04:07 PM

eMail this entry!

All I heard when you were ranting was a big, giant "myaahh" sound like Amber makes when she has do to something she doesn't like.

Posted by: Ron on August 8, 2007 04:49 PM

2005 isn't that different from 2003, as far as page/form editing goes, so I guess I'll offer my advice:

1. Always use flow layout. NEVER use grid layout for anything, not even web parts. Grid layout is a cruel trap that makes you think your stuff will stay fixed in place for all time, but it won't. Using flow layout means you have to get used to setting up borders and filling them with content, instead of just sticking content wherever you want, but you're really better off learning the tricks and techniques for flow layout than the barely functional crap for grid layout. Plus your pages will resize better when your users open the help / favorites / search frames.

2. HTML view is your friend. In grid layout it's a mess, but you shouldn't use that anyway. 90% of the manipulations you need to do to make a web page look right have to be done in HTML view. I drag and drop my controls in design view, then switch to HTML view for finer positioning.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on August 8, 2007 05:02 PM

Tatter said it before I got the chance.

don't use grid layout, use the flow. and use the wysiwyg to create your controls, but use the HTML view to fine tune it and lay it out properly. back again when you start working on the code-behind.

Posted by: mrfred on August 8, 2007 08:52 PM

I'll third that.
All I'll add is that it takes time and experience to get it all perfect (sometimes not that much of either, but you get the point).

Posted by: Cindy on August 8, 2007 11:10 PM

I'd actually never heard of "grid layout", so I did some checking. It seems 2005 automatically uses flow layout. So I'm bashing my head against this thing and it's already as easy to use as it's gonna get.

Heck with this, I need to get this project out the door. I'm d/l'ing the latest version of NetObjects. I'll see if I can't rough out my page layouts in it and then cut n' paste the resulting HTML into a web form. If I use placeholders for the controls, it just might work. I hope.

Posted by: scott on August 9, 2007 09:17 AM

It's still not easy, I'll admit, but it does build habits that your users will thank you for. The guy at my position before me insisted that everyone use grid layout, and when some users complained that the web pages were all messed up when they minimized and restored the browser window, he went to the configuration management department and had them disable all the windows controls except "close" on all the browsers on all the computers in the entire company, including the CEO's laptop.

He's probably still wondering why he's no longer with us.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on August 9, 2007 12:18 PM
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