There are many so-called "facts" about WYSIWYG editors that "everyone knows" because they continue to be perpetuated around the Internet. But how many of them are really true? Let's look at some of the most commonly mentioned "facts" and see how the most popular WYSIWYG Web design editor, Dreamweaver, stacks up.
WYSIWYG Editors Generate "Atrocious" Code
To me, its a huge waste of time to go through and use the WYSIWYG software out there and then go BACK and clean up the atrocious code. (Lara)
The issue here is defining what "atrocious" code is. I know some developers who feel that any code that has quotes around attributes and indenting is atrocious because the HTML is larger than it needs to be. But for argument sake, let's say that atrocious code means that there is a lot of extra tags, elements are left out or not closed, and it is not easily readable by a human being.
Dreamweaver has options that allow you to modify how it will rewrite your HTML code. This is especially useful when you're importing HTML from someone unskilled using a text editor. You can have Dreamweaver check the code and do things like fix bad nesting and missing end tags, remove extra closing tags, and correctly encode special characters, even if they were added as just & or <
You can also customize how Dreamweaver formats your HTML code. Including whether or not to indent and if the indents should be tabs or spaces and how many, what line breaks does your system accept (Windows, Macintosh, or *nix), case of tags and attributes, and more.
Verdict: Myth Dreamweaver does not generate "atrocious" code. In fact, it allows you to decide how you want your code to look, so even if you never go into the code editor, you can generate HTML that looks good for your text editor compatriots.
WYSIWYG Editors Add Too Much Code Bloat
I dont like all the extra tags the WYSIWYG software adds. (MaryAnn W)
Good hand code loads faster than most WYSIWYG generated HTML. (Don)
I wrote a how to explaining how to build a drop-down menu in Dreamweaver, and I used design view for the entire thing. When I was done I took a screen shot of the code Dreamweaver generated to see if the HTML was in fact "bloated" or had extra tags. While there are possibly extra tags and attributes that you might not normally add to a drop-down menu (such as the accesskey and label), but I had requested those in the wizard earlier. Dreamweaver did not insert any tags or attributes that should not have been there.
While you can't see the entire page of HTML, Dreamweaver didn't even do what most editors do and add a meta tag to the top saying "Edited by Dreamweaver". There were no extraneous tags in the document.
WYSIWYG Editors Don't Deliver WYSIWYG
...most WYSIWYG editors only do a fair job at displaying what you would see in a browser. So its really WYSI*almost*WYG... (Mike)
WYSIWYG stands for "what you see is what you get" and many novice Web designers think that if they build a page with them, that that will be true. But with the sheer number of different browsers, browser versions, HTML versions, and operating systems out there, expecting one software program to be able to display a Web page as it will always look is impossible. WYSIWYG isn't really WYSIWYG - as Mike said, it's "WYIS*almost*WYG".
Verdict: Fact WYSIWYG editors, including Dreamweaver, do the best they can, but it's impossible to build in design view for every permutation of browser, OS, and version available. We do the best we can, and always test our work in as many browsers as possible.
WYSIWYG Editors Don't Write Standards Compliant Code
I think certainly if your interested in standards, todays offering is very questionable. (Bob S.)
Dreamweaver allows you to define your new documents so that they use whatever standards you'd like to use. So, if you want to design your site in XHTML 1.0 Strict, you can set that as the default DTD or you can use other DTDs (including XHTML Mobile) or none at all. Once you've defined the standards you want to use, Dreamweaver validates your page against that standard. If you want to change the existing DTD on a document, hit Ctrl-J and then switch to the Title and Encoding tab.
I use Dreamweaver 8 and its almost perfect for making standards compliant websites. (Willy)
Verdict: Myth Dreamweaver can produce Web pages to whatever standards you would like to use.
WYSIWYG is Easier to Learn
I like WYSIWYG because I dont do enough development to be an expert with HTML. (Dan)
Most people can understand how to edit a Web page in a WYSIWYG editor very quickly. It's just typing and dragging elements around. Dreamweaver is a very complex program, however, and while it's possible to edit and maintain pages without knowing a lot about HTML or Dreamweaver, it's not recommended.
Verdict: Half and Half It is possible to write Web pages in Dreamweaver without learning HTML, but the more HTML you learn the better your pages will be.