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4:53:53 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review of Dreamweaver 2
18th January, 1999.

A WYSIWYG HTML editor that I think is among the best is Dreamweaver. When Dreamweaver 1.0 first emerged onto the market over one year ago it offers an HTML editing experience like no other editor. It provides seamless integration with text editor like BBEdit and web browsers using its "Round-Trip HTML" technology. It provides access to dynamic HTM technologies, cascading style sheet and JavaScript programability.

Importantly, all these technologies are easily accessible, even to the novice. Of course, a good background in HTML and workings of these other technologies is advisable. Indeed, why else would you care about a program like BBEdit if you have no wish to fiddle with the HTML codes!

Dreamweaver 2 has just came onto the market in January. New features have been added and many improvements to existing features have been made. Let us take a look at some of these.

Figure 1The Interface

Overall the interface resemble the previous version with some cosmetic touch-up here and there. The first thing you will notice is that the "Object" window have been brushed up a little. It is now in colour which looks nicer than the previous grey scale icon. (Fig 1)

Site Management

One of the biggest complaint against the Dreamweaver is its lack of site editing support. It is a great tool for individual page editing, but when it comes to site editing and management it is somewhat disappointing. Dreamweaver 2 addresses many of these.

Dreamweaver 2 now has the ability to crate a site map. "About time" you said. I agree. This provides a much needed visual representation of the structure of the Web site you are working on. Instead of relying on a mental model of what your site look like, or sketches on a piece of paper, now you can see it on screen.

The site map gives a tree-based structure of your site, showing the relationship between the files in your site. (Fig 2) The site map provides an intuitive and convenient listing of pages and contents that you can drag and drop into your design.

Figure 2

You can create files directly in the map with just one click of the mouse. Then drag and drop a few files and images in your sites to the icon representing the new page, and Dreamweaver 2 will insert the links in the new page automatically. Next, open that page up, move these elements around to a suitable location on the page and adds others as required.

Global Search and Replace

The new search and replace actions in Dreamweaver 2 allows you to change the properties of every tag in your site, with just a few clicks. It is also powerful enough to execute text, HTML-aware, and tag-sensitive search operations quickly and easily through an intuitive search interface.

Those who manage or design large site would definitely appreciate the convenience that this global search and replace would bring.

Layers… No problem

Layers give you exceptional design flexibility. It allows pixel-level control over content placement. Yet, Layers is only supported on version 4.0 plus browsers. Even a brilliant web design would be wasted if your intended audience can’t see it.

So what do you do? You can write a separate web page just for those who use lower lever browsers. This is troublesome and time-consuming. In practice, many people compromise, and adds a lowest common denominator approach. Yes, people resort back to tables.

While this can be very successful, this is not an easy process, and can be rather frustrating too. Dreamwaver 2 offers a new feature called "round-trip layers to tables," which converts your layers to tables for level 3 browsers. Interestingly, this technology allows you to convert from layers to tables and from tables to layers.

However, a constraint you need to watch out for is that you cannot overlap the layers. This is because cells in tables do not overlap. This may not seem much, but it is enough to reduce the design flexibility of layers.

Templates

A feature that will benefit professional or anyone who want to create a series of web pages of similar content is the new template-creation capabilities. A Dreamweaver templates has region that are fixed and region that is open to page-specific information.

Web pages which are created using the template allows you to change the content of the page-specific region. Now the exciting bit is whenever you change the template, the changes flows through to all web pages based on that template. You can easily imagine the time saving benefit.

Editing Table

Creating and customising tables is a task that often requires a lot of patience.

The table editing capabilities in Dreamweaver 2 have improved dramatically from the somewhat plain-vanilla variety in the previous version.

The new version gives you more control over tables and cells, including background images and colors. It has table editing features that allow rapid selection of cells, rows, columns, and discontinuous selections. Cells can now be split with the minimum of fuzz. You can even perform simple sort on the table!

All these features is easily accessible from a well design floating panel (Fig 3).

Colour

Another very interesting and handy new feature is that Dreamweaver allows you to sample colors using the eyedropper tool (see Fig 3) from anything on your screen (yes, even from your desktop!). The color you selected is converted to the nearest Web-safe value.

Further, the color palette is configurable. You can either use the Dreamweaver’s default palette or one from any graphics program.

Linking Pages…It’s Easy

One of the best new feature is that Dreamweaver allows you to create link to other files in your site very simply.

A simple click and drag action is all that is required. Select the object you want to create a link on and from the Property inspector drag the "point-to-file" icon to the file you wish to link to. (Fig 4) In fact you can even point to any other visible anchor in any open Dreamweaver 2 document. Of course, it helps if you have a large monitor!

No more spending time typing in long URL paths and waste time double checking the path to make sure you type it in correctly. It is so simple that it is sort of addictive. After using it I do wonder how can I do without it!

Extensibility

 

In line with development in programming that encourage an open standard, Dreamweaver’s programming interface is extensible through JavaScript.

Through these extensions you can add new objects into your pages., For example, you can add a new object button that allows you to insert RealPlayer components onto Web pages.

You can customise your property inspectors to change object’s attributes through the Dreamweaver interface. You can also add new Behaviors that allows you to provide more interactivity on your page.

There are more. You can even add custom commands to the menus to extend the Dreamweaver 2 interface.

The program come shipped with a whole range of third-party support from vendors like Live Picture, Beatnik, and RealNetworks.

With so much third party support already, and no doubt there will be more coming, the capabilities of Dreamweaver is only going to improve. The good thing is that you often do not need to pay for all these improvement. Many of these plug-in are free.

Style Sheet

Style sheet control interface remain relatively unchanged in the new version. This is unfortunate. While Dreamweaver offers a rich set of control over CSS, its interface is somewhat clumsy. There are more efficient way that to step through multiple dialog boxes and entering values. May be in the next version?

Buy? Upgrade?

Dreamweaver 2 has a retail price of $569, and can be upgraded from Dreamweaver 1.0 for $235. Not cheap, but all things considered, it is fairly reasonably priced. For those who can spare the cash, and need an all-rounded HTML editor, it is good deal.

For old-time Dreamweaver users the upgrade is certainly worthwhile. The additional features will surely add to your productivity. And if nothing else, the much snapper performance of Dreamwever 2 may worth the price alone.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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