The race to create a CSS tool for designers is hotting up. Eric Meyer in conjunction with Web Assist is about to release CSS Sculptor, a tool for building web CSS standards based layouts in Adobe Dreamweaver. Given the furore that the previously little known Olav Bjorkoy’s Blueprint has caused, its an interesting comparison to see such a big name branding a tool like this. Personally, I don’t want to use CSS Scultor, no matter how good it is, for the same reason I have kind of given up on the extended features of Dreamweaver. While I see the necessity for GUI web tools for designers (I know the pain of being technically inept), I think they only serve to further the divide between creative and technical expertise and leave designers further in the dark as more and more levels of typographic and layout CSS sophistication become available.
I believe that a designer should learn the basics of HTML and CSS first before using WSYWG tools. I don’t think it compromises their creativity, I rather think it promotes good work practice in organisation and logic which can help designers to realise their ideas more articulately. Without a fundamental understanding of the basic structure and syntax of HTML and CSS, it is extremely difficult to engage in sophisticated design and development. For designers working on the web, I also think it is somewhat of a handicap not to possess these skills, one that will continue to dog their career progress especially in an environment as rapidly changing as this.