Comment on statement about Xara Web Designer

I feel I need to comment on a statment by “The Xara Team” about the nature of Xara Web Designer (XWD) in the forum: Talkgraphics.com. “The Xara Team” comes with various statements which I will comment in the following.

It’s evident that the vast majority of websites are of a graphical nature
– I disagree. Back in old days static HTML based webpages might be build in a combination of static text and graphics, but today serious websites are build from dynamic elements, ofcause wrapped in some graphics. Every website need a layout, but that does not make them a website of graphical nature.

Creating websites should be like creating PDF files – you should not need to know anything about what happens ‘under the hood‘”
You cannot compare PDF with websites. PDF are static pieces of documents. Ofcause pieces of code can be embedded into a PDF file, but nowhere near the complexaty of a webpage. I have been working with producing websites since 1995 with focus on the “frontend”. (X)HTML are the fundament of any webpage, and for people like me working under the hood, it is the nature of websites. What we need to understand is that like the brain with its left and right side, a perfect websites comes out of a perfect co-working of the logical and the creative side.

When you state that you should not need to know anything about what happens under the hood you put your main focus on design – and if XWD will do that it will be just another designer orienteded website generating tool. It will only appeal to designers, the right side of the brain and not be the perfect tool.

it provides no HTML code view, and no abilities to program Javascript
Oh dear… These facts are almost used as a positive feature! Do they hate HTML and javascript at Xara? I hope not, cause every website is based on HTML and most interaction is based on javascript. I understand that the user should not necessary need to be a master at HTML and javascript, but to position a product in 2009 with words like “no ability to program javascript” is not a good thing. You need to be able to provide points in the autogenerated whereby people who actualy do not hate javascript (like me, I love it!) can hook into a given website and extend it. How about CSS? It would be nice to get documentation about the HTML which XWD generates, when IDs are generated on elemented and when (if) css classes are generated.

Modern ways of extending website content using things like jQuery (with more than 1000 plug-ins) will work if the HTML markup is based on CSS.

(Web Designer layers map directly to CSS layers)
In a remark he mentiones that XWD layers maps directly to CSS layers – well, as I mentioned before, it would be very nice to get documentation about the HTML which XWD generates! It is important and not just something which be mentioned as a comment!

Many questions in the forum is about how to add logic to the website
No doubt, it is 1-2-3, very easy to get a nice website up and running using XWD, but what about if you need it to have dynamic elements, autogenerated content? Many of the threads at XWD forum at talkgraphics.com is about that. Why? Because there is a need to “activate” your design. Having a nice design is not enough for many websites. Ofcause if you have a website which states opening hours, driving directions and a mailto link – a staic website will be perfect, and the option to public directly to your websites is unique! I have shown XWD to many friends and they all say: WOW! because its so easy!

I am trying to push the nature of XWD towards the “left brain side” – lets extend the part of XWD which offers easy embedding of logical based elements. The designer part is nearly perfect. Lets make so easy that even creative people can figure it out! :-) Instead of trying to position the product only in the area for creative people, and thereby make the same mistake as the “other” website products going in the other direction (as “The Xara Team” clams most of them do).

Finally: Lets make it even better!
Please understand that I am happy with XWD, I want to throw away mock-up websites made in photoshop, I want to be able to use XWD through the whole process – but for that to be possibel/realistic we need to have a product which respect both the creative and the “logical” part of a website!

It is possibel I think to reach that target! We need to invent some new features for making the logical part of a website so easy that everybody can do it. I have some ideas which I will try to visualize in future. Some of them are easy, some not. One example is the need to be able to choose the level of anti-aliasing for each element :-)

But I hope that this article have been inspirational to the xara-team and others who have read it! :-)

US

6 thoughts on “Comment on statement about Xara Web Designer

  1. On the whole, the comments about Xara Web Designer are rather poor and don’t reflect the first release of the product nor it’s intended audience. Xara Web Designer makes website publishing possible for people who have no interest in the technical ins and outs of html and associated technologies and that is the principle target for the product.

    Xara has been forthright and honest about the shortcomings and restrictions of the product and it’s nonsense to assume this implies some sort of statement that such things are unimportant.

    Xara and the Xara community have worked hard to address the ‘issues’ that you have commented upon and it’s possible to do most things with the product. Xara have been very open about the technical issues the tool does not attempt to be a tool that addresses every technical aspect of web development.

    I’ve no doubt that the next release will have additional features to address some of the current shortcomings. Xara is an incredible company and neither they nor the product deserve the shallow comments above and the content doesn’t teach anyone anything new. While you wish to criticise the product, I continue to make income from it. Xara Web Designer isn’t the perfect tool and like any tool it will never be the perfect tool.

  2. @pauland
    I am sorry that you categorize my article as “shallow” and that you thing that it will not “teach anyone anything new”.

    I have recieved many (not too happy) comments on my article and the link to this article (from my thread Comments on “About Xara Web Designer” at talkgraphics.com) have even been removed by a moderator! That is one thing, another thing is that I have a right to my own opponion, its a free web!

    So when you call the article a shallow not “teaching anyone anything new” article what can I say? If everything in the article was so shallow why should it recieve so much attention? I did not try to go deep in my article, cause it was a comment on a “statement” apparently made by “The Xara Team”. The comment from “The Xara Team” was it self a quick “statement” indicating in which direction this product was going. I felt the need to comment on it – thats all there is to it!

    Let me for the 3rd time stress that I find Xara Web Designer a GREAT TOOL which address the need for a designers tool to create websites in a easy way. Actually I have allready advocated it for my friends and the company I work in, and a friend of mine have bought a copy. Why would I do that if I had anything against Xara Web Designer?

    In short: Nothing is perfect, I would love to point out some points where I (as a frontend developer) would love to see changes! And I will continue to do that, here or (if I am allowed) on talkgraphics.com.

  3. “The link to this article (from my thread Comments on “About Xara Web Designer” at talkgraphics.com) have even been removed”
    You’ll find the link is still there. How else would I ever find this blog?

    “I have a right to my own opinion, its a free web!”

    It’s all about how you express an opinion and where you express it. Talkgraphics is moderated, not a free-for-all.

    “If everything in the article was so shallow why should it receive so much attention?”

    People are quite passionate about XWD. Many of the things that you commented upon had already been discussed on talkgraphics. You inferred that a statement by Xara indicated that some features were irrelevant or unimportant, which is far from the case. Xaras statement indicated the limitations of the program feature set, not a comment about missing features not being important.

    It’s difficult to equate your comments with someone who likes the software, since all you had to comment upon were the things you felt were missing without mention of the great things it does. In many ways I think that you miss the point of the software and give no consideration to the fact that the software is only weeks old and is a first release.

    I only comment here (and not talkgraphics) because otherwise anyone reading your blog would have completely the wrong idea about the software.

    I am sure you’ll be allowed to continue to comment on talkgraphics if you keep it polite and respectful of others. You aren’t the only frontend developer on talkgraphics. Some of us have been developing software and web frontends for a long time.

  4. I said: “It’s difficult to equate your comments with someone who likes the software, since all you had to comment upon were the things you felt were missing without mention of the great things it does.”

    Well looking at your other blog entries it seems you do like the software. I guess it all about how things are written. I see that you are also getting some good responses on talkgraphics, so it’s not that your comments are being ignored.

    I’m sure you mean well. We’ve just set off with the wrong foot..

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