Pronounced “whiz-e-wig”, the acronym WYSIWYG stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” The acronym is used in conjunction with HTML editing programs. WYSIWYG editors use a GUI (graphical user interface) to allow users to create web pages without the knowledge of HTML.
How it works
WYSIWYG editors work much in the same way Microsoft Word works. In MS Word one has the ability to create documents with images, tables, and lists. WYSIWYG editors work the same way but are entirely used for web page creation.
All WYSIWYG editors work essentially the same. When creating a new web page, one clicks on areas of the web page and then selects an icon that corresponds to what the user would like to incorporate into that space. This can be an image, a table, a list or even just text. Once satisfied with the addition, the editing program saves the results in HTML.
A nifty feature of WYSIWYG editors is being able to view the HTML code. This is a boon to those just starting out in the web page creation business. Editing a page and then perusing the resulting HTML code can help even the most novice of users learn more about how web pages are created.
A few of the goodies
There are quite a few free and commercial WYSIWYG editors out on the market today. On the commercial end of things, Microsoft’s Frontpage and Adobe’s Dreamweaver are both WYSIWYG editors that can assist in creating some beautiful web pages.
As for free WYSIWYG editors, Trellian WebPage, Amaya and Nvu come highly recommended by their very own users.
There are several advantages to using a WYSIWYG editing program. First, they allow anyone to create a web site to be placed online. They require no previous knowledge of programming or HTML code. The business man or woman who has no real knowledge of how web sites and pages work can use these types of programs. Mothers and grandmothers can create basic web pages and sites to share with friends and families without having to bend the ear or poke the brain of a technically savvy relative.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few more disadvantages to using a WYSIWYG editor. First and foremost, WYSIWYG editors often create superfluous coding that tends to bloat web pages making them much more difficult to load. Most of these editors also have the bad practice of allowing users to bypass crucial information that should be included – ALT tags in images, for instance. More often than not, the HTML produced by these editors will not pass validation. Most importantly, the web pages produced will often not be SEO friendly in any way, shape or form.
Choosing to use a WYSIWYG editor is not a poor choice if you are brand-spanking new to the world of web site and web pages. They are excellent tools to use in the learning process. However, while simple to use, they often create pages that are not up to the W3C coding standards and may create more headaches in the long run.
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