Is it me, or is website design WAY TOO difficult? Granted, I'm a 3D Artist, and I have a conceptual mind, I just can't figure out why it's so difficult to get a page up and running the way you want it.
1. The folder structure for your root folder is too complicated - there are just too many folders and interlinking html pages.
2. The HTML language is too complicated - do I really have to know all these tag selectors and what's the difference between a class and id?
4. Now there's cascading style sheets! This has to be linked to your html documents.
5. Every version of Dreamweaver, something gets created and something gets thrown out - things don't work with older versions
I am not whining here, I am just trying to point out that in order to get a page up and running, you have to jump through a number of hoops to get there. Why isn't there a website designer that is simple to use? Dreamweaver has gotten too crazy - the stage is too complicated, too many links, too many buttons, it just needs to be completely overhauled - streamlined, and made easier.
I think DW is near perfect, really. As a web developer professional, it seems right on task for me. Now I might say the same things as you if I were struggling with Photoshop, or some 3D application. The secret is to learn the language and the techniques. Yes, CSS is hard, but it's an essential piece of web site development....
Creating a web page is like any other discipline, if you know why and how it is easy, if not then it is difficult.
I cannot create 3d images, as they are too difficult to do in my opinion, maybe if the programs that you use to create your images were much easier to use, and did the work for me, I would be able to do so without having to learn how.
It's all a matter of ones perspective.
I give you a 5/10 for the rant. It really sounds to me like you are trying to use a program with little to no training in it and it's frustrating you.
1. If the site's folder structure is overly complicated, that's most definitely the fault of the person putting the site together. One way to ensure that your folder structure makes sense is to create a site outline on paper first. Use the main headings as folder names with an index.html page as the "home page" for that section and keep all of the sub headings for those sections as pages in the same folder. Organization is key.
4. Cascading stylesheets are nothing new, they've been around for many, many years. Is there something specific about css that is causing you grief, maybe Media Queries (which are relatively new when compared to css in general)?
5. Number five is true, I'll give you that, but the reason is "the internet" not Dreamweaver or Adobe. The web is a constantly changing medium. It's not simply a "new type of ink" or a "fancy paper" it's not just "high definition" or "digital radio". The core of how the internet works changes over time. As the internet changes, so do the technologies that work with it and therefore, so do the programs that interact with those technologies. To work in website design/development, you MUST be willing to learn as the core concepts evolve over time. There may well be a point in the future where we laugh about "remember hyper text markup language?".
All that being said, if you have specific issues with the program or web design in general, you have come to the right place. There are quite a few people here who will definitely do what they can to get you up and running and most of the time, we won't even ask for money .
OK, I am not a 3D Artist. And I have had the privilage of working with a number of really, really good ones. Everything they did tended to amaze me, their work was beautiful, functional and told a story in an easy-to-understand way.
As a web designer, I find 3D programs hard to understand. You have to know about modeling, skins and creating a vapor or smoke trail is certainly beyond me.
So here's a challenge: Do some trade-out with a web designer who is really good. Show him or her how to do 3D drawings and have the web designer show you how to put together web pages that function. I think you'll feel better about creating a website that shows off what you do and you'll give a web designer the ability to create cool artwork they can put on their website.
These are all good responses! I appreciate you not flaming me for my opinion. You've read my complaints, and given thought to my questions. Thank you.
I agree whole-heartedly being a 3D Artist is perhaps as alien to you as website design is to me, but I have to say that the application should make the artist / designer better, and hopefully be fun to use!
I suppose it's all about how the pieces are tied together - how Dreamweaver is laid out. This is the bone I have to pick with Adobe.
I use a program called Maya. It's one of the best 3D modeling applications in my opinion because it exposes the user to 3 layers, from top to bottom. The top-most layer gives the user complete design-freedom - selecting and manipulating primitives in 3D space, and animating them over a timeline. This is the easiest to see. Once the user becomes accustomed to modeling, the second middle layer becomes visible which are the channels and nodes where parts of each primitive can be defined, renamed, resized, and animated. Finally, the last layer, that isn't as easy to see, is the MEL scripting language that controls everything. These layers are more like a metaphor of peeling back an onion and understanding how the application works.
I would say that Dreamweaver exposes the user to too many layers too quickly. Dreamweaver has identity-crisis. It doesn't know what it wants to be - is it a coding-platform or a design-friendly application?
There are three distinct parts, HTML, CSS, and Connections between the two. Connections between the two is the design-friendly approach to Dreamweaver. The problem to me is that Dreamweaver feels a bit clunky and thrown together with no clear cohesion. The Design-Friendly approach is inserting images and creating tables, but even then it's too code-based. At least with a modeling package you can quickly build a scene full of spheres and cubes. In Dreamweaver, I have a problem with understanding the proportions of the site. What is the depth, where does it start, where does it finish...
...why do I have to hit the Refresh button every second, why isn't there a hot-key for Save All?...
One of the things that Dreamweaver could easily fix is the Project Structure. The Site Folder is the Project Folder. It contains Images, Code, Videos, and html pages. What's frustrating for a first-time user is that there is little help to designing your website. You have to look externally to YouTube videos and books to understand how to build your site.
When you first create a Site, Dreamweaver should give you the option to "Use Default" Folders, for instance:
- Images Folder
- Videos Folder
- Code Folder
- Scenes Folder
- Pages Folder
You can use the Default folder structure or make up your own. At least then when you create a site, you have an idea of the types of things you might need.
It might be nice to have a Scenes Folder. I think Dreamweaver would do better if Timelines were placed back into the program. A scene would be a virtual file that pulls everything together. A timeline would help show the user the start and the finish of the website. Even if most websites are not linear, there could be independent timelines, like a hierarchy or tree-structure.
The problem with all of this is the web browser. There are too many to count and all have different needs. It's exactly what happened to PC games. When PC games are developed, they have to be tested with lots of different hardware configurations, graphics cards, sound cards, controllers, keyboards, etc. There are too many browsers and each of them handles your website differently. Either Dreamweaver needs to pick one, or create its own. Maybe that sounds crazy, but eventually the ones that don't get used much will fall to the waste-side... like Opera... and Mozilla, and maybe Chrome.
Firstly, as with Maya, Dreamweaver is a complete tool. It excels in not being "dumbed down." It is not Microsoft Publisher, it's AdobeInDesign or Quark Xpress. As such, it's going to reveal all to you and I can appreciate your learning curve.
My 3D experience is pretty much limited to either receiving completed projects from talented guys like you or building stuff within the 3D DVE in Avid's DS (not their Media Composer). The DS learning curve was much more difficult to master than was Dreamweaver, as it's a compositor like After Effects as well as an editor like Media Composer, Final Cut or Premiere. Took me some six months to get really useful at it.
You describe folder layouts for Maya. Here's what I do with Dreamweaver:
I create the following folders for all websites:
From there, lots depend on what the site is going to do. For example some of my sites that do sales have the following:
Other sites that have extensive image presentations have:
When I create a website with drop-down menus, I create a folder for the master thusly:
As you can see, my sites may be several folders deep but everything is done along the lines of what seems organized to me. Dreamweaver lets you do what you want. I have seen many sites where everything exists on the root level. I sometimes wonder how anyone can find stuff that way.
As to layering in Dreamwweaver, it is highly advisable that you never do that while you are learning Dreamweaver. The only way something can sit on top of something in Dreamweaver is if it's in an AP div. That is usually bad practice as it is done by neophytes. If you construct pages that are all on one level, you'll find everything works in all browsers, no matter what.
Of course there is layering, using backgrounds as well as placing divs in front of and behind one another. I created a great layered effect for a club in my home town and they really liked the result. But you should try to keep things simple.
I admire your skills in Maya. My experience with what you do began when I was working with artists using SGI workstations and supercomputers, laying off their animations one frame at a time to a 1" VTR. I did a lot of work for pharmaceutical companies and, for one client managed to hire an animation house to the ttune of about $1Million for a period of a year, working with one client.
I come out of broadcasting and then entered web design. So I can understand your frustration, but Dreamweaver is a lot easier to learn than Maya in my opinion.
Like Mark, I create these folders for every site -
I use the initial underscore to make those 'system' folders always sort to the very top. That's a big convenience.
Pretty much everything else is the same as he mentions.
Mark, Murray, thank you for your advice! I have organized folders to what I have seen in tutorials. I don't know how anyone could not organize in folders, but some people thrive on clutter.
I do like Maya's node-based structure. Basically, the concept is that a primitive, like a polygonal cube, is parented to a shape attribute. This in turn is parented to a material attribute, and then a lighting attribute, and so forth. This is done so light maps and shadow maps can be linked and affect materials placed on primitives. Everything is connected in some way; therefore, everything can be manipulated along the timeline. This has to be done in order to render properly. Essentially, you have one file (the scene) that combines the textures, the image data, and so forth. It is the point of reference for your project.
I suppose then the index.html is the point of reference for Dreamweaver?
I initially wanted to showcase my work as a 3D artist through a website where I could take visitors through my site in 3D. A page would load showing a still image of rendered 3D text, basically 4 words. Each word was a hot zone and would change the overall background image when the mouse hovers over the word. When the user clicks on one of the words, a QuickTime movie plays showing the camera animated along a motionpath "zooming" the user to another part of the website. At the end of the short fly-by, another page is loaded.
I created the motionpath animation in Maya and exported as an image sequence (a collection of jpeg's), then resaved the jpegs in Adobe Bridge with less quality, then made a QuickTime video in Apple Motion. It was a 2 second, 55 frame, 24 frames / sec video fly-by at only 1.7 MB per fly-by.
I have all my rendered animations and still-renders ready for Dreamweaver. Then I hit a wall...
Perhaps there's another way to do video? I could do it in Flash, I suppose, insert every image (55 frames) in a page and then export as a swf or flv? Then I run into the part where Flash isn't supported with every web browser.
Maybe I should just learn HTML5? That's free, right?
You should be doing HTML5.
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