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The Unstoppable Rise Of Adobe Dreamweaver

Jan 12, 2008
Our company runs training courses on Adobe Dreamweaver, the industry-standard web development software. And we are increasingly finding that the profile of the person wanting to learn Dreamweaver is becoming distinctly, well, frankly, unpredictable! It seems that just about anyone nowadays can find themselves needing to build a website or to create web content in some shape or form.

One thing is for certain, on our courses, we are now getting far more people learning Dreamweaver who are not and do not intend to become specialists in web development. They are, more typically, people who need to develop web content and who perceive Dreamweaver as the best program to use for the task in hand. Coming to this conclusion is almost inevitable since Dreamweaver is widely perceived as the software tool of choice for both the casual and professional web developer.

So how has Dreamweaver attained its enviable position as the industry standard web development software? And is this position deserved? The second question is easier to answer than the first, so let's deal with that one first. The answer is "Yes": Dreamweaver deserves its position because it is such an excellent piece of software and because it demystifies the whole business of web development and puts it within reach of so many people. As to how Dreamweaver got where it is, well it did so by evolving, responding to changes in the web arena and embracing new web technologies as they have come along.

In the early days of web development, there were two types of web development tool: those used by coders (the specialists who understood the technologies underlying web pages) and the visual software tools which functioned in a manner similar to word processing and page layout programs and were used by non-specialists and inexperienced web developers. The visual programs (which included Dreamweaver) had a very poor reputation among web professionals who found that the code produced by these programs was clumsy, verbose and inefficient.

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.

Macromedia also added a number of features aimed at speeding up web development which they knew would be attractive to serious web developers. For one thing, they offered a series of features which would automatically generate server-side content and save developers a great deal of programming time. Initially, these features were only available in a special edition of Dreamweaver called "Dreamweaver UltraDev". When these features became available in the standard edition of Dreamweaver, the program became much more attractive to the serious web developer.

Recognising that many web developers are members of a team, Macromedia also added features to Dreamweaver allowing teams of people to collaborate on the same site while avoiding the risk of two people making conflicting changes to the same page. Dreamweaver's collaborative features were called "File Check in/Check out". The program also introduced a feature known as "Design Notes". This allowed one developer to attach a note to a particular web page which could then be browsed by other members of his or her team.

As new technologies have emerged, the makers of Dreamweaver have also responded by taking them on board and modifying the way the program generates code. Thus, in the latest release of the program, Dreamweaver CS3, it is assumed that the user will be building websites using cascading style sheets (rather than HTML tables as was previously the case) and Dreamweaver offers a series of thirty or so different CSS page layouts that can be used to build efficient pages and adapted and personalised at will.

The latest Dreamweaver also includes some groovy new features which embrace the Ajax technology using the Adobe's Spry Framework for Ajax, a library of automatically generated JavaScript code which allows the creation of interactive web page on which page content can be updated in response to user actions without the page having to be reloaded.

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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