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Why Dreamweaver has all bases covered

Sep 16, 2008
When we run Dreamweaver training courses, we are always amazed at the number of different types of Dreamweaver user who attend our courses. There is simply no longer a typical Dreamweaver user. We get people working from all types of organisation in all types of role. Private individuals, accounts specialists, marketing specialists, academics, workers in the health services...

Of the people now wanting to learn Dreamweaver the vast majority attending our courses will not necessarily become specialists in web development. Rather they have a need to develop content for a web site or to build a web site for a particular purpose. They have looked into the choices of software available and come to the conclusion that Dreamweaver is the best package to use and now they need to learn how it works.

Dreamweaver has become the industry standard web development software, seeing off rivals like Microsoft FrontPage. And it deserves its position. It is a great software package with powerful features and an approachable interface which lets anybody who can use a computer embark on a basic software development project and, with a bit of patience and knowledge of a few fundamentals, bring it to a conclusion. Dreamweaver has attained this dominant position because its creators have always aimed to satisfy the needs of all the different types of users of their software.

Back in the nineties when web editors (such as PageMill, Hot Metal Pro, FrontPage and Dreamweaver) started to appear, they were greeted with some scepticism by serious web developers (coders) who felt that they produced sloppy code and were really only of interest to people who didn't understand code and, basically didn't know what they were doing. Even back then, Macromedia, who owned Dreamweaver, bundled HomeSite (a Windows HTML code editor) or BBEdit (with the Macintosh version) to keep serious web developers happy.

With each release of Dreamweaver, Macromedia continued to add features which showed that they understood the need to create clean code even when using visual tools. They added features to the program for maintaining the integrity of code and removing redundant elements. They enhanced their coding environment with features like line numbering, code hints and the tag selector, a feature which displays the tag underlying the currently selected element and the hierarchy of tags in which the element is contained. They also added the ability to verify whether a web page contained code incompatible with certain browsers.

In June 2000, Macromedia added another string to their bow by releasing a special edition of Dreamweaver called Dreamweaver UltraDev. This version of Dreamweaver contained all the features of the basic programs but added special utilities for creating dynamic content. Users could create server-side content using ASP, ColdFusion or JavaServer pages. The program automatically generated code for connecting to a database, retrieving and displaying data and linking elements on a web page to a data source. Two years later, they dropped UltraDev and added all of its functionality into the standard version of Dreamweaver, further enhancing its appeal to serious web developers.

Macromedia further enhanced Dreamweaver's reputation as a tool for serious web developers by added collaborative functionality to the program; features which acknowledged the fact that a lot of web developers are part of a team. Dreamweaver's two main collaboration features are "File check in Check out" and "Design Notes". The former allows developer A to open a file and check it out; so that developer B knows that the file is being worked on by A and doesn't start making conflicting changes to the file. The design notes feature allows developer A to attach a note to a particular file which can then be picked up by developer B.

The web is constantly evolving and new technologies are being developed to make web sites more appealing to visitors. The owners of Dreamweaver have always been very good at embracing these new technologies sooner rather than later. An illustration of this can be seen in the latest version of Dreamweaver which includes a series of CSS layouts which can be used by newbie web developers to create pages which separate web content from information relating to the styling of that content. Dreamweaver also has useful features for making it easy to make your content accessible to web surfers with disabilities.

The newest release of Dreamweaver, CS3, also includes support for Ajax an exciting new way of creating interactive Web applications using XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. Dreamweaver's implementation of Ajax is via Adobe's Spry Framework for Ajax. Using the easy to use Spry interface, developers can create sophisticated Ajax interface elements, special effects and display data-driven content on their pages.

As new features are added to Dreamweaver with each new release, the program continues to have an interface which is user-friendly and approachable by any experienced computer user, bringing web development within reach of just about everybody on the planet. And it is this policy of satisfying the needs of professionals as well as beginners which will doubtless continue to make it the obvious choice for anyone wanting to develop web content at any level.
About the Author
Author is a developer and trainer with Macresource Computer Solutions, an independent computer training company offering Adobe Dreamweaver training courses in London and throughout the UK.
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