Monthly Archives: February 2005

Rant #1

Sometimes I hate software. Actually, it’s really that I
hate the makers of software, who can be so incredibly smart sometimes they
turn out to be completely clueless. Which, if you know anything about software engineers
is actually quite common. Why am I launching on a rant so early in the day?

I’m trying to import a lot of my old articles into a
directory on my blog. No big deal, but it’s a lot of file management. All I
want to do is to point my Web editor (Dreamweaver MX) to a directory
so it can create a list of hyperlinks to the files in the directory. This isn’t
rocket science, Web servers do this automatically. But after poking around for
an hour in Dreamweaver, I still can’t get the stupid thing to do something so simple.
I’ve gotten to the point where it will allow me to actually drag a file from a
directory onto my index page, but it inexplicably embeds the link to an image
in that directory instead.

I’m pulling my hair out because this is classic software
development stupidity. There are 15 million bells and whistles built into
Dreamweaver that I will never use. But one basic, bonehead utility that would
actually be useful to many people (ie: Create a Site Map) doesn’t work, and
doesn’t have any obvious reference in the online help, unless you count the quasi-Visio
Site Map creator that is impossible to figure out without digesting the manual,
but looks nothing like an actual *Site Map* that you would find on any of a
billion sites you would visit on the Web. And what kills me is that this
functionality used to work as simply as you would expect in the old Home Site
engine that Macromedia digested when they upgraded Dreamweaver.

So, by “improving” Dreamweaver for the core of diehard
koolaid drinkers, they’ve made it less usable for most people. To me, it’s like
buying a car and then not being able to drive it because you need a mechanic’s license to figure out how to start it. 


Instead of wading through online forums and references, I
hacked my way out in a way that always makes me appreciate the unsung valor of
basic tools: I put all of my files into a new directory without an index page;
uploaded the directory to a Web server and turned off the default page for
directories with no index. When I navigated to the directory, a default
directory index appeared with html links to all of my files. I cut and pasted
the Web page into Word (which retains the hyperlinks) and saved the file as an
HTML document. I opened the document in a browser, viewed source, and cut and
pasted all the code, with HTML links, back into word, where I used Word’s Find
and Replace to quickly wipeout all the extraneous code. That left me with a
long list of clean html hyperlinks to the files in my directory, in about 5
minutes. An ugly process, but better than battling Dreamweaver to do something
so basic.