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