Google did something wrong, oh no!

Google has just released the beta of Google Web Designer after announcing it earlier this summer.

According to the website, it is there to "create engaging, interactive HTML5-based designs and motion graphics that can run on any device". It certainly looks like they've tried to do that, but I think there's a couple of major problems.

Design view

It appears that the main focus of the software is design view. You can draw out the shapes you want to create you design, while inserting text and images. You can even add create animations with a similar interface to what many will recognise or be familiar with from Adobe Flash.

But I always fear design view. The only time I ever used design view was when it was required as part of an IT course in Sixth Form (From which I dropped out due to various objections to what they were teaching, such as the use of design view in Dreamweaver).

If you build in design view, and then go to code view, it's like a smack in the face. Code is often VERY messy and frequently not compliant with W3C standards. Unfortunately for the most part this seems to be the same with Google Web Designer.

Some requirements of SEO is using correct and helpful markup for search engines to properly read and process the content on your website. So why is a text box in this situation just a div, no paragraph tag? The answer is likely below.

No paragraph tag within text boxes?

It's not really for web design

I understand that this is a beta product, and free, so it's not necessarily appropriate for me to complain about it too much at this point in time. But it looks like it would have been better named 'Google Ad Designer'.

From the code it produces and it's aims to make better use of HTML5 and CSS3, it definitely looks much more geared towards making banner adverts (This is even true based on the screenshot on Google's website).

If you were to use the code it produces as part of a normal website, it would be bad. It uses CSS absolute positioning within the document for pretty much everything. It produces what appears to be excessive amounts of code, where developers actively seek to keep the amount of code to a minimum while trying to achieve the design they're after.

It's also entirely based around one file, not multiple files like you'd need for a website any more than just one page. Several people have also been complaining about being unable to open HTML files which were not created through the software.

My vision for a HTML5/CSS3 IDE

Moving away from the idea of Google Web Designer actually being pretty much entirely based on making ads, and focusing more on the idea of a development environment which is aimed on actually designing/developing HTML5 websites and apps, here is what I think Google should have done, and definitely should do going forward.

No design view

When actually designing a website, app or other media, it should be done through the appropriate software. It is often much quicker and easier to design a website in software such as Photoshop or Illustrator (Or for those on a smaller budget, GIMP and Inkscape), than trying to do it straight away in code.

To encourage the use of HTML5 and CSS3, developers should be encouraged to write it themselves, to get a solid understanding of what is required to make what their users will see on their website.

A development environment which offers plenty of discrete guides and tips to how to write your code would be ideal. Google is very good at assessing content, so should be more than capable to check what code the developer is writing and warn them of potential issues or errors that will arrise.

Support for more HTML versions and other languages

This is a feature of pretty much all other web based IDEs, so it would be good and make perfect sense for Google to ensure their software does the same.

Projects and version control

While their software is currently mainly geared towards making ads, it would be good to see the ability to create projects so you can manage all of the files for a website and upload to the live website.

Having version control built in would be ideal as it means a developer could set up one piece of software from which they could manage their entire website. I know a few people who work at different companies who make no attempts to use version control as they haven't found a system they are happy with. I think it's a feature many would be pleased to see (With the option to store versions in a variety of places, such as Github, Google Drive, or one's own storage).

It's in beta!

They've been clear about it, as I have also tried to be. Google Web Designer is in beta. They have plenty of time to add a whole wealth of new features and make it into a piece of software worthy of calling itself a "Web Designer".

As for now, I'll just be sticking to Aptana.

Posted by Ant on the 1st October 2013 at 9:43am. (0 comments)

Categories: Software

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