Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 8, 2008
I have a new web client whose webpage I was hired to optimize. In essence, he built the site using Microsoft Publisher, which I knew could do the job, but he wasn’t overly happy with what he’d done, and I had offered to take a look at it for him at some point, so he sent me the file to take a look at.
That’s when I noticed the first thing. He actually sent me a Publisher file, and I wasn’t expecting that. It was easy enough to open, and then I figured out how to save it as HTML files so I could use my Top Style program to look at the pages.
I knew Microsoft Publisher could be used to create webpages, and it’s relatively simple for users who don’t know HTML, but I never realized just how much work it was going to create for me on the back end. Forget about trying to optimize the page; I’m fighting to try to standardize all the pages. For some reason, there’s a lot of text that Publisher created as images; what’s that about? Also, there’s a lot of extra code, ugly code, that’s getting in the way of trying to determine what I can do to get things on the up and up again. Finally, Publisher helps people create menus, but it doesn’t keep the formatting from page to page, so all 10 of his pages have the same menu, but the images are all different sizes. I’m still trying to figure out how that was accomplished because, oddly enough, when the pages were downloaded all the menus turned into images; what the hey?
After spending the first 90 minutes trying to work around all that extraneous code, with very little success, I decided I had to go a different route. I didn’t start with the index page, but a different page where the formatting was totally out of whack, and all the text was merged with a picture of my client into one much larger image. I opened Publisher back up, went to that page, and learned that I could copy the text in the program to Word; that was a life saver, because it made what I needed to do next easy. I cropped his picture out of the bigger picture, because I wasn’t going to need the rest of it.
Then I eliminated all the code I could, all those extra < td > and < tr > tags that made no sense whatsoever so I could widen the page, which was at 43% for some unknown reason, to 85%. For now I’m stuck with using a menu image, which I’ll probably go back and eliminate since he said it didn’t quite turn out how he’d wanted, but I was more interested in getting the formatting of everything else down first.
I then created a table to encase his picture in so I could merge it in with the text that I was adding back in, and because most of his pages were using Verdana as the font (there were at least 3 different fonts that came up, though the client said he had thought he was only using one) I decided to go with that across the board.
When all was said and done, I had established at least a workable template that I can use for all the other pages, except for that menu that I’ll probably go back and change up before I save the template for good. It took me 2 1/2 hours of work just to get it presentable, and though it was time well spent, the lesson seems to be that it doesn’t do much good to try to work around bad coding just to make something look passable. I wish someone could tell me why these Microsoft programs that can make webpages seem to add so much extraneous, and bad, code. Word does the same thing, and Front Page also adds extra code, which makes no sense as it’s specifically for making webpages.
It’s a lucky thing for me that I’m working on an hourly basis, but I hate wasting client’s money, even when they’re the ones who created the mess. I have two other possibly clients whose sites I might be fixing up also, and one of them also used Publisher. Someone please help stop the “messes”!