posted by Metin Amiroff on Tue 20th Apr 2004 17:30 UTC

"Nvu review, Page 2/2"
Section 4 - Tables, forms and layers

While dialog boxes to insert both forms and tables are very simple and yet professional, the default-generated code is again bloated. Here is the code for a table with 2 rows, 2 columns, 200 pixels width and 1 px border:

<table style="width: 100%; text-align: left;" border="1"
cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>

Click for a larger version While it is good that N|vu uses CSS for every property, we can still see the tags that were not requested. In this case, cellpaddings and cellspacings, each line break after column tag, style="vertical-align: top;" for each column and table body tag being unrequested. Actually these can be modified using "Advanced Edit" button but it would be better with simpler defaults. This is the main reason many developers hate WYSIWYG programs. Because code they generate is bloated and filled with unrequested styles and tags. Dreamweaver learned this lesson long time ago and I think it's time for N|vu to master this. One may say that WYSIWYG programs are used by newbies and that they don't care about the code but I strongly disagree, because this was a mistake made by MS FrontPage, and because of that, these days the web is full of wrongly-coded web pages which look different on each browser. The main principle of WYSIWYG web development apps is to give a user friendly interface to create sites while maintaining the code quality and standards. Finally, I should note that manipulating tables, cells, rows and columns is very easy with N|vu. Adding, merging, removing; everything is available via the right click menu. Again, implementation of a global Properties bar would make developers' lives easier.

Let's jump to forms now. Here is the default code for a form that N|vu inserts:

<form method="post" action="someurl" name="myform"><br>

This code seems much cleaner, but again it has an unneeded <br> in it. In my tests I could visually insert any kind of form element into the page with any of their properties being added. By the way, I just realized that Ctrl+Z does not work in Source mode. Additionally, I could not insert any elements into page in Source mode while I can do that in Dreamweaver. I think this is essential to implement too.

What about layers? Nowadays, we can see many, many sites switching to table-less design. It has many advantages being used with CSS and others I won't comment on here. So it is essential to have at least a working layers support. Unfortunately N|vu does not have any menu or button to insert a layer, be it a

or a . So I switched to Source view and typed this:

<div id="mylayer"></div>

After switching to design (Normal view) I could see nothing in there in place of my layer. When switched back to Source view again I was shocked that N|vu deleted all that code. I think this is a bug. Because a program must never delete anything without asking the developer first. I typed the code again and added a fuzy content to it:

<div id="mylayer">This is my layer</div>

Yay! Now it appeared in the Normal view and I could see my text and

tag in the status bar. I successfully changed my layer's background color via css. One disappointment was that my layer did not have any handles to move or resize itself. It could be nice if developers could place layers in places they want in the page and freely were able to move them, align to grid or to another layer, or modify layers style. This is definitely way to improve.

And now, N|vu's tables, forms, layers outline: Generally good interfaces with all needed properties, but bloated code generation. Sensible defaults needed. Poor Source view for now. No layers support, code somehow gets deleted if it has no content (for layers).

Section 5 - Multimedia and active content

Click for a larger version This is the most lacking part of N|vu. It still is a very young application and does not yet provide options to insert Flash, Shockwave, Java Applets, Movies and embedded plugins into the page. You can only paste the ready-for-use code for now. Actually this is reasonable because there is only one developer working on N|vu right now as far as I know. Compare that with an army of professional developers at Macromedia and you'll understand the difference. More manpower would boost this project to another level.

Section 6 - Syntax highlighting and code autocompletion

I was eager to see this in N|vu but unfortunately it has none of these for now. No CSS and HTML syntax highlighting and code autocompletion. This is a must for a professional developers. While new developers may not need syntax highlighting and code autocompletion to do their work, it is absolutely necessary to get a feeling that you use the program, not program uses you. I am aware that Mozilla's source view has had a syntax highlighting for at least 3 releases. So I think it should not be too hard to implement it in N|vu.

Section 7 - Final words

Being a very young project sponsored by Lindows, I can say that this application has most of the features that a new web developer needs. While I did not outline some extra features that come with N|vu like Templates support, markup cleaner, visible marks, and xfn, I think professional web developers will want to wait for the missing parts and features to be implemented and I am sure implementing them will take time. N|vu has great potential in this area but it has a long road ahead. It would be much assisted if users would use the product and report as many bugs as we can.

About the author:
Metin Amiroff is a student who is deeply involved with computers. In his free time he translates OSS software to Azerbaijani, his native language. He does web development for a living and really enjoys his job.
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  1. "Nvu review, Page 1/2"
  2. "Nvu review, Page 2/2"
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