[Pro] Freeway's code output not optimal?

To start with: I know next to nothing about html coding. That’s why I’m using Feerway to design my web sites. Very easy and very neat. I thought.

But, some time ago I started a thread here because my site appeared blank in Opera. I got some responses, but not really anything I got more wiser from. So a month or so ago I decided to try Opera’s own forum. Nothing conclusive there, either. Until yesterday, that is.

Into my mailbox arrived a response, or shall we say rant about the wrong, terrible and outdated code I was using. Does this person have a point (I’m using Freeway Pro 5.4, the page in question: http://www.jonhalvorsen.com)?

Please read an extract from the post on the Opera forum:

Well there’s your problem…

From the top – inlined static CSS, endless static scripting inlined, use of the style attribute in an unnecessary manner, tables for layout, widths declared on colgroups and TD with conflicting/incompatible values, browser sniffing, all elements placed using absolute positioning instead of flow, CSS values that make no sense (like float on the only child of an APO), vague/meaningless classnames (style31), image maps, images for text elements, no images off graceful degradation… It’s a laundry list of how “not to build a website” and everything I would expect from some sort of WYSIWYG or auto-generation tool… from a decade ago. Though it basically says “welcome to 1998” in the very first line:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" In other words, it's in "transition" from 1997 to 1998, and might as well be HTML 3.2 for all the modern practices involved in it's creation. I mean just the mere presence of 20k of markup for 623 bytes of plaintext and FOUR content images (basically 6k or less' job) is proof enough that something is REALLY wrong with the code for the page. I would suspect you've been led down the garden path by a tool that lets you THINK you can build a website... and my advice would be to throw that entire train wreck of code away and start over clean with semantic markup, separation of presentation from content, a current recommendation document like HTML 4.01 STRICT or XHTML 1.0 STRICT, ease up on the javascript for NOTHING more than goofy animations that make the page HARDER to use, and in general drag it kicking and screaming into THIS decade. ... and probably fix the color contrasts (or lack therin) while at it since much of the text ends up illegible. Light grey on white might be pretty, but if nobody can read it what good is it? _______________________________________________ freewaytalk mailing list email@hidden Update your subscriptions at: http://freewaytalk.net/person/options

Jon,

First I would like to commend you on a very nicely presented website.

I cannot attest to the academic perfection of Freeway code. What I can attest to is the number of people who have been enabled to communicate and share leveraging Freeway. Most would have given up if they had to code everything directly in HTML. My experience is that for all but the most tricky applications, Freeway does an excellent job. I would also guess that my HTML code in most cases would be significantly less efficient that code and it would have taken me multiple times longer.

After using Freeway for 100’s of sites and tens of thousands of visitors to each site, I have not had performance issues. Occasionally there is an issue with an older version of IE. More often there is an issue with Opera. Of the users to my sites, less than 1% use Opera. I don’t know if that is typical.

Bottom line, we all have our opinions and I value the right for folks to express theirs. I respect the individual for their impassioned plea. I just don’t agree with it in the big picture of the intent of information sharing.

Regards,

Chuck


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Yeah I liked the website/sites

Opera - why?

It really is a minority browser, I check my sites with it and it is the only browser that gives problems - I usually ignore Opera as most of my clients have never got past IE because it came with the computer and FF, Safari & Chrome might break the computer!!

I had one client who complained about a web site being too small - I went over to check it on her computer - about 10 various toolbars, AVG and loads of others - they viewed the Internet through a little letterbox !!

Worry about the main browsers first

Bruce

On 12 Feb 2012, at 17:54, Chuck M wrote:

Jon,

First I would like to commend you on a very nicely presented website.

I cannot attest to the academic perfection of Freeway code. What I can attest to is the number of people who have been enabled to communicate and share leveraging Freeway. Most would have given up if they had to code everything directly in HTML. My experience is that for all but the most tricky applications, Freeway does an excellent job. I would also guess that my HTML code in most cases would be significantly less efficient that code and it would have taken me multiple times longer.

After using Freeway for 100’s of sites and tens of thousands of visitors to each site, I have not had performance issues. Occasionally there is an issue with an older version of IE. More often there is an issue with Opera. Of the users to my sites, less than 1% use Opera. I don’t know if that is typical.

Bottom line, we all have our opinions and I value the right for folks to express theirs. I respect the individual for their impassioned plea. I just don’t agree with it in the big picture of the intent of information sharing.

Regards,

Chuck


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Into my mailbox arrived a response, or shall we say rant about the wrong, terrible and outdated code I was using. Does this person have a point

This person makes some legitimate points from a best practices viewpoint. But whether it really matters to you or your client(s) depends on the type of clients you have and whether such things are of any concern to your designer sensibilities. There are very practical reasons for keeping things separated (no or minimal inline styling, external js, etc.), ease of maintenance being one of them. In certain work scenarios the type of code that FW generates would simply not be acceptable, even if it does Just Work. It just wouldn’t. I know because back when I used FW I was told as much when looking for corporate work. It comes down to what you want and/or need from your tools. If you want to build a site as easily as possible with no interest in what’s going on behind-the-scenes that’s fine but realize that stuff can and does still matter to some extent, even if it’s not readily apparent. For people who understand such things, people like potential employers (depending on your job goals), the code base can say as much about your skills as a designer as the visual aspect and while for the vast majority of people this is a non-issue it can make a difference.

Todd

http://www.xiiro.com
Twitter: @ImXiiro
Skype: toddbrilliant


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On Feb 12, 2012, at 9:54 AM, Chuck M wrote:

Jon,

First I would like to commend you on a very nicely presented website.

yes. very much so,

and, since you can not write code … let us take that as a given in the equation.
and, since you are going to do your own site … let us also use this as a given.
then … FW writes VASTLY superior code, when compared to the code that you yourself can not begin to create.

perhaps the somewhat ill mannered commentator from that other forum needs to be reminded, that …

“in the land of the blind, even a one-eyed man is King .”

i have a very good friend, and i do not in any way appreciate or hold much fondness for his ex wife. but … this loser of a woman raised him two sons, both of whom are excellent young men and going to graduate school in real subjects. so… being that i am not impressed by her code, does in no way make her a poor mother. and being a great mom is what she set out to do.
perhaps we can also remind mr crabby-butt at the other site.

“the proof is in the pudding”


ok,
pro-FW rant mode " Off " now.

cheers,
v.


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I find this very interesting. In looking at Freeway Pro, it looks like it can generate HTML 4.1 Strict, as well as XHTM 1.0 Transitional and Strict code. Should we be using one of the latter?

On 12 Feb 2012, 2:22 pm, Jon wrote:

In other words, it’s in “transition” from 1997 to 1998, and might as well be HTML 3.2 for all the modern practices involved in it’s creation.

I mean just the mere presence of 20k of markup for 623 bytes of plaintext and FOUR content images (basically 6k or less’ job) is proof enough that something is REALLY wrong with the code for the page.

I would suspect you’ve been led down the garden path by a tool that lets you THINK you can build a website… and my advice would be to throw that entire train wreck of code away and start over clean with semantic markup, separation of presentation from content, a current recommendation document like HTML 4.01 STRICT or XHTML 1.0 STRICT, ease up on the javascript for NOTHING more than goofy animations that make the page HARDER to use, and in general drag it kicking and screaming into THIS decade.


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Does this person have a point

Yes

I have looked at your site before now and been impressed with it but there are some valid points.

You do have a mix of CSS and Table positioned items. You do have some unnecessary JS to show some images. You do have some meaningless classes/styles. You do have an outdated Doc type.

But you don’t have to!

These are all optional within FWP and the more experienced FWPro user may well choose not to do it that way.

The advantage of FWP is that you can tighten up on all these things - if you know you need to. And if you don’t…

David


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Hi Jon
I would be to review the reply with a balanced view.

There are proper valid criticisms items in the reply but there is also a huge amount of hand coding snobbery in there as well.
In reality we can all criticise any website, because there are always going to be compromises and especially compromises imposed form the unseen areas. My old art director (which I admired greatly) once said, never rudely criticise some ones work because you have no way of knowing in what circumstances it was done under. In other words, what you are looking at may be an absolutely inspirational peace if you were faced with the same set of constraints. That’s not to say he wasn’t correct but rather he had no idea of the circumstances and therefore showed a great lack of professional and social tacked in the way he condemned: the work, the worker and the tools used to create it.

On the upside, every valid problem area he denigrated can be fixed and 99.9% of it from within Freeway. Thats the great thing about a decent WYSIWYG compiler, with a few tweaks you can start to rebuild the complete site without chucking it all away and starting again.
You can start by naming things correctly and that especially true for css styles and items. Plugins that you my also want to look at which will definitely help can all b found in Actionsforge.
There are loads from Tim and Walter. For example the Externalize action, Walters classify action, The Reset css style sheet action and if you are really keen to start testing how much you can manipulate the actual output, then my advance actions can also help.
In the end it will all probably come down to three criteria, which in my view are:

  1. Budget
  2. Timescale
  3. Unknowns

So in the end… Well done on creating a site, don’t be to worried about the email but don’t dismiss it either. Try to introduce good practice techniques over time and you wont go far off course.

Kindest Regards Max


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ps sorry about the spellers and poor gammer. My excuse is: I wrote the post this morning and didn’t check it.

max


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I have built sites with little discipline re styles and what have you and often accepting the default HTML 4.01 Transitional. They include Carousels, stickers,faders, rollovers and Jquery and FX actions and random applications of CSS shadows and google fonts and many other goodies assembled in what is doubtless a ragbag of code. But they all work in Opera. So why does Jon’s not work in Opera?

Richard


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OK - the site as you say works in most browsers. In the case of this site, there is a problem with some of the JavaScript present in the site.

Opera reports a number of errors like this:

Event thread: load
Uncaught exception: TypeError: Cannot convert ‘frameset[i]’ to object
Error thrown at line 108, column 3 in FW_Hit(frameset, chain, targNum, msg) in http://www.jonhalvorsen.com/:
FW_Hit(frameset[i].frames,chain,targNum,msg);
called from line 90, column 3 in FWSeqTimer() in http://www.jonhalvorsen.com/:
FW_Hit(top.frames,‘Indigo’,fwSeq[fwCurrSeq],1);
called from line 1, column 0 in (event) in http://www.jonhalvorsen.com/:
FWSeqTimer();

It looks as if some of the Actions output relating to rollover code and frame sets is not agreeing with Opera.


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Ok, this was a lot to digest for a humble designer-absolutely-not-code-expert. And I thank you all for the contributions. Very useful comments. But I will use some longer time to go through it all.

One conclusion I can make is that beauty has to come from within, but the beauty within is only in the eye of the beholder. Hm, quite well put, if I may say so.

Freeway is evidently doing something right here, and has some very knowledgable followers in this forum.

I already have a couple of questions which I hope some of you can respond to:

  1. I’m still using the 5.4 version. When upgrading to 5.6 will this “modernize” the code in my present sites?

  2. I’ve set the doc type to HTML 4.01 Transitional, only because it is the default. Is it wise to change this on my present sites to more recent ones? If so, can it do any damage?

And please remember, I’m a photographer/designer, so bare with me. Freeway has definitely opened up a new horizon for me. With its beautiful exterior.


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