The UX of WeBuilder 2014

I originally typed my HTML in Notepad on my 75 MHz Windows 95 desktop.  It wasn’t very helpful, but then again, HTML wasn’t that sophisticated at the time.  This was in 1995.  Very shortly after that, I discovered Homesite, a program by Nick Bradbury.  Homesite was better than anything else and stayed that way for a long time.  It was acquired by Allaire software (1996) and then Alliare was bought by Macromedia (2001) and then Macromedia was bought by Adobe (2005).  Adobe proceeded to neglect Homesite and instead built the abomination called Dreamweaver.

Since 2005 and the death of Homesite, I have been looking for a replacement.  Nick Bradbury built a new editor called TopStyle, which I liked in general, but really focused on CSS and not overall HTML Development.  That program is now on version 5, but I haven’t used it in a while.

One program I found that kept the spirit of Homesite was called WeBuilder.  It was a good app and was improved periodically, which is alot better than most software could claim.  It had the right balance of helpfulness and let-me-do-it-myself-fullness.  I started using it in about 2006, right when I discovered jQuery.

At this point, my jQuery is very rusty.  I saw a promotion for the latest WeBuilder 2014.  If I review it, then I could get a license for free.  Since I hardly code anymore, I didn’t want to shell out the upgrade fee.  Ok, so everything above is lead-up. Here comes the review.

The Good
The major change in WeBuilder 2014 is that they re-coded it in a new version of Delphi.  This makes the whole thing run alot faster.  Its absolutely noticeable, although it wasn’t SLOW before.  This is something you just have to do once in a blue moon.  You have to upgrade your client-side framework.  It’s true on the web and true on desktop software.  Even though it took a year and a half, it’s worth it to do as a development team.

The Bad
However, as a user, I mostly don’t care about technology frameworks.  I just want to edit the things I want to edit.  More to the point, It’s really unfulfilled to have this new upgraded thing and it looks exactly like the old thing.  My maxim on this sort of UX is:

When rolling out a new client-side framework, you have to also update the skin to look more modern.  That way, the user thinks they got something out of the bargain.

Look at the latest release screenshot.  It’s a mash of little tiny buttons.  Microsoft Office moved away from this many years ago.  It’s a throwback, an anachronism.  Why didn’t they use a more modern ribbon?

There are just too many of them.  I can’t keep track.  There are also too many potential windows frames.  There are lots of good tools, but they are too hard to keep straight.  Photoshop has done a nice job of managing those screens, but I see none of that learning embedded into this new user interface.

The Ugly
One thing that just rubs me the wrong way is a minor detail.  It’s WeBuilder 2014.  This is February and the product is released.  I would say WeBuilder 2013 is more than appropriate.  Where did the 2014 name come from?  Does this mean we won’t have v2015 for 2 years?  It’s just confusing and completely avoidable.  Be sensible about names, this year is the year is came out.  Early in the year too!  Stop trying to be cute with the names.

The One-Eyed Man
In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.  There are tools out there, but most of them suck. I haven’t tried the latest TopStyle, but WeBuilder is still my choice for HTML and CSS editing.  It may not be perfect, but it is pretty good.  All of the features work.  It saves you time.

My HTML/CSS and jQuery skills are so rusty that this point, I find it hard to judge specific features.  I’d love to hear other people’s hands-on reactions.

Well, there is my review.  It wasn’t all positive, but I still recommend the tool.


One reply on “The UX of WeBuilder 2014”

Hi there. I am using Webuilder 2011. I have the css file and my php file open. When I make a change in the css file, the result does not show up in the php file, at least not in the preview window. I know this is not a forum… but if you know how to make this work…

Whatya think?