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Web Design Series - Dreamweaver 8 And CS3: Should You Switch?

Mar 14, 2008
Upgrade to Dreamweaver CS3? Or stick with Dreamweaver 8? This is a question that many web designers who own Dreamweaver 8 are asking themselves as they consider whether it would be worth their money or their web design company's money to upgrade their design software. Since it is your job as a web designer to work with the software in question, the onus of deciding whether the new version will improve service and overall work quality or not. Many web designers are also wary of the fact that Macromedia has been acquired by Adobe and are wondering whether the new owners have improved or destroyed this piece of software. It is my opinion that there is no clear choice between the two. The choice you eventually make must be determined by what you require from your design software.

Web design feature #1: Adobe and Dreamweaver Together

Some web design companies may find the integration between the new Dreamweaver software and existing Adobe tools a good enough reason to purchase the Dreamweaver CS3. Images can easily be transferred from one software to another and some designers find this feature very attractive.

Web design feature #2: CSS Support Made Better

Designers will likely find that one of the best new features of Dreamweaver CS3 are the fresh and improved CSS layouts. The software code contains detailed commentaries related to how these layouts function so understanding how to use them is a relatively simple affair. There are currently 32 different layouts to choose from, in 1, 2, or 3-column designs, and in fixed or liquid design layouts. The starting position of the CSS is easily defined and subsequent movement is also simple and easy. Designers can simply style the tag directly into the HTML through a style attribute, then transfer it to their style sheet. In Dreamweaver CS3, "Convert Inline CSS to Rule" appears on a single right click of the tag and a custom class for that particular style or a full CSS selector is easily created.

Web design feature #3: Mobile Support

The incorporation of Adobe Device Central into Dreamweaver CS3 also makes designing pages for viewing on mobile platforms much easier than before. Although use of the mobile platform to view web pages has become increasingly popular, it was previously a rather challenging task to design pages that are compatible for viewing on both a mobile platform and a web browser one. Dreamweaver CS3 makes those challenges a thing of the past.

Web design feature #4: Ajax Implementation Now Made Possible

Adding Ajax widgets and effects to the web pages that you create is now possible through the incorporation of the Spry framework in to Dreamweaver CS3. A simple drag and drop operation will deposit them into your dataset. Transition effects such as shrinking, growing, highlighting and fading, integration of XML feed data and widgets for tables lists and forms are just some of the features of Spry that have been included in Dreamweaver CS3.

Web design feature #5: XLST Support

XLST support is a major feature of CS3 and both you and your design company will be delighted by the support included through the use of XML files as the database source. Viewing of the XML and integration into any HTML documents are made easy through XLST. Web designers who possess XML files of the same format can easily create a single template for them by using XLST.

Web design feature #6: Support for Mac Intel Processors

CS3 is now also native to the Intel-based Macintosh platform, and load times have been significantly reduced. The company behind CS3 claims that, whereas Dreamweaver 8 previously required four minutes to load, CS3 now accomplishes the same feat in under one minute. However, these claims have yet to be verified by proper testing.

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade

The question does not have an easy answer. Personally, I chose to upgrade and have not looked back since. The new CSS features, XLST support and Device Central are all wonderful new additions to the software. However, live databases and server side scripts are still difficult to use with Dreamweaver CS3 and this may discourage web design companies from purchasing the software. If, at the end of it all, you choose to upgrade, it is unlikely that you will regret the money spent.
About the Author
Moe Tamani is a Dallas SEO consultant for a leading Dallas Web Design company.
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