If you like to learn by doing, have we got the Dreamweaver book for you: Beginning Dreamweaver MX. With this book by your side, you’ll give Dreamweaver MX one heck of a workout, as you build three full sites from start to finish.
In a couple of weeks, you can have the equivalent of several months’ hands-on Dreamweaver MX experience. And not just the fragments of Dreamweaver MX you’d learn working with real clients. The entire program.
The book’s step-by-step coverage is exceptionally easy to follow, and all the sample files can be found at wrox.com. When it comes to the code that makes each site’s dynamic features work, you needn’t build it all yourself: You can place the source code the authors provide, and watch ’er run.
Site No. 1 is designed for beginners, near-beginners, and folks who’ve just upgraded to Dreamweaver MX. It’s a hobbyist’s site, bringing together resources “for all things culinary”: cooking techniques, recipes, equipment, news, and so forth. The site’s goals and content have been designed to help you walk through all the basics of building static sites with Dreamweaver MX, as well as your first “tastes” of dynamic content and interactivity.
You’ll plan, create, and set up your site; add pages and edit their content; and especially learn how to use stylesheets and templates to establish site-wide design consistency. Next, you’ll learn how to achieve even finer control over your layouts with tables, frames, and Dreamweaver MX layers.
By this point, you’re ready for something more ambitious. Site No. 2 -- designed to provide information on upcoming events for fans worldwide -- requires significant personalization, database connectivity, and security. You’ll start by learning how to use Dreamweaver’s ASP support to store and use an individual visitor’s information throughout the site -- and to store and use information that can be used by all visitors.
Next, you’ll learn how to authenticate users -- and, using that authentication, decide what each visitor can do, and what they’ll see. Site No. 2 ends with a three-chapter introduction to web databases: retrieving data, displaying it on web pages, and allowing users to update your database with new information.
Site No. 3 takes you even further, showing how to build sites that are modular, extensible, and scalable -- and contain elements that can be easily modified and reused in future sites. Along the way, you’ll create a fairly substantial content management application -- and even extend your site with a prefabricated PayPal shopping cart.
Don’t own Dreamweaver MX yet? Fine: Download the 30-day timed demo from Macromedia. You’ll learn what you need to know, long before your clock runs out. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.