Artisteer as a Web Development Tool
I’m not a web developer by any means. I can’t take a web editor with a blank page and create something wondrous and magical. It’s fairly rare for me to create anything wondrous or magical regardless of whether or not a web editor is involved. I can edit page elements once they’ve been created, but starting from scratch isn’t something I do well. Unless you count making pages that say "Hello World"
on them. I’m champion at that.
But anyway, with the new release of Artisteer 3.0 not only does it allow for the creation of blog themes but you can use it as an actual web page design tool. I had a simple project in mind so I thought I would give Artisteer a try and see how it faired. I wanted to create several static pages that all linked together through a very simple Nav menu just under a banner. Its layout would be very similar to this blog in that it had a header, a nav menu and then the content. The content would be laid out in a table. It sounded pretty simple. And no hissing it as using a table this way. It’s the simplest way.
As far as the design goes, Artisteer worked wonderfully well. I was able to pick a nice design, set the layout, remove the sidebar, customize the banner, set up my menu, and create lots of interlinked pages within just a few minutes. I even created the table on the page and got the layout set. Quite frankly I wish all HTML tools were this quick and easy.
If I was going to stick with just entering some text and a graphic here and there things would have worked out quite nicely. However, I had lots of graphics to add and currently there is no drag and drop operation into Artisteer. This means I had to select each cell, go through the menus to insert a picture and then scroll to find the file. All very doable but extremely slow. So slow in fact that after the structure of the page was made there was no point in continuing with Artisteer. The layout was simple but it didn’t allow for my repetitive actions. Even though Artisteer offers the ability to directly edit the code I really felt this had put the brakes on. Hopefully that gets changed in the future since I think there is a lot of potential in using Artiseer this way. Being able to have that level of freedom and control to create pages is really quite exciting. It’s not quite drag and drop, but you don’t have to enter the code yourself to make something happen.
But once I was out of Artisteer I loaded the completed pages into Expression Web and Rapid PHP 2010 to make my final edits. Unfortunately Rapid PHP doesn’t allow drag and drop of images either so that brought its use to a halt. Into Expression Web I went and the drag and drop worked very well.
However, the code behind the page was an overwhelming jumble of syntax. The sheer volume of definitions was staggering! And even though the page looked good in the browser, when loaded into the editor it was nearly impossible to work with. I couldn’t tell which way was up and spent quite a bit of time just deciphering all the injected Artisteer tags.
I did finally tame the code beast and was soon back on track adding my images and linking files together. With the amount of time I spent sifting through the code I’m not sure I actually saved myself any time. The page looks good, but once you jump out of Artisteer editing your work may be beyond the scope of most casual designers.
I think I have a handle on how Artisteer works its magic so the next time I have a project like this it shouldn’t take nearly as long to start editing. In fact, I’m still editing those same pages and they don’t look nearly as daunting as they did originally. However, I would love to see Artisteer expand the HTML portion of this app. It’s still in the "Preview" stage so they have plenty of time to keep working. They’ve made huge strides and if they can add a few more features like drag and drop and a decent HTML editor within the app itself I think they will have a top notch web design tool for the casual web designer. If nothing else using Artisteer gives you a really nice framework in just mere moments. You can create the layout, select the colors and choose fonts without having to write all the code and stylesheets by hand.
There is a lot to like, but just keep in mind that if you have to edit the code manually you’re going to need to take it slow and easy so you don’t get lost in there.
Other articles of interest:
- A few minutes with Artisteer 4.x
- Making WordPress Themes with Artisteer
- Microsoft Expression Suite 4
- My Automation Progress So Far
- Getting the number of pages in a pagination ribbon
- A few thoughts on PagePlus X5
- Rapid PHP 2010
- So how did PagePlus work out?
- Clicking Buttons, Links and Drop downs in Katalon Studio
- What software am I supposed to use?