Macaw

Friends don’t let friends use front page.  Or at least that is the saying some of my fellow designers would always toss around.  The primary issue being the quality of code that front page (and even dreamweaver) would produce when using its WYSIWYG editor was awful. But those early editors did hit upon something that has always been a bit difficult with web design, thinking visually while also thinking in code.

Through a great deal of time, energy, and patience I have long since grown into a design and development cycle where I can write line after line of css and already know in my head what it’s going to look like before I preview it in the browser.  But that sort of training and patience doesn’t come easy and it has had me thinking.  If I had to learn it all over again, would I still be trying to just write code or would I start with one of the new generation of web design tools to learn from?

Macaw and Adobe Muse are a few of the most recently released apps promising to let you create a website visually using the creative side of your brain. These apps still let you export your work so you can see the raw html,css, and JavaScript but Macaw in particular doesn’t want you jumping back and forth between those worlds. So in the case of Macaw, you are left going back to its editor to make further changes or go completely code after a certain point.

From the perspective of someone who has a development process for the front end that starts occasionally in Photoshop (if it’s a radically new visual rethink) and then moves into using sublime text, I do wonder if I could actually speed up my process by starting visually and then switch to code at which point I would have some of the primary structure completed.

My primary concerns revolve around breaking away from my current system of custom sass includes, preprocessor setups, and other boilerplates that may prove quite difficult to re introduce to an exported Macaw site.

But I plan to find out.

Over the next few weeks I will attempt to create a new sample site in Macaw and then port it into my usual text editor, sass, gulpjs workflow.  I am trying not to be too skeptical but my initial impressions make me doubt that it will in fact produce something I can use out of the gate. But here is hoping I will be proven wrong.