Read an Excerpt
- The Real World of Dreamweaver
- The Dreamweaver Interface
- Up-to-Date HTML Standards
- Next-Generation Features
- Program Extensibility
- Automation Enhancements
- Site Management Tools
Dreamweaver, by Macromedia, is a professional Web site development program. Among its many distinctions, Dreamweaver was the first Web development program to take advantage of the capabilities of the latest generation of browsers, making it easy for developers to use advanced features such as Cascading Style Sheets and Dynamic HTML.
Dreamweaver is truly a tool designed by Web developers for Web developers. Designed from the ground up to work the way professional Web designers do, Dreamweaver speeds site construction and streamlines site maintenance. Throughout this chapter, you can see the philosophical underpinnings of the program and get a better sense of how Dreamweaver blends traditional HTML with cutting-edge techniques. You also learn some of the advanced features that Dreamweaver offers to help you manage a Web site.
The Real World of Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver is a program very much rooted in the real world. For example, Dreamweaver recognizes the problem of incompatible browser commands and addresses it by producing cross-browser compatible code. Dreamweaver even includes browser-specific HTML validation so you can see how your existing or new code works in a particular browser.
Dreamweaver 3 extends the real-world concept to the workplace. Features such as Dream templates streamline the production and maintenance process on large Web sites. Dreamweaver's advanced layers-to-tables feature make it possible to quickly position content during the design stage, while keeping your pages backwardly browser compatible when published. Dreamweaver's commands capability enables Web designers to automate their most difficult Web creations.
Integrated visual and text editors
In the early days of the World Wide Web, most developers "hand-coded" their Web pages using simple text editors such as Notepad and SimpleText. The second generation of Web authoring tools brought visual design or WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") editors to market. What these products furnished in ease of layout, they lacked in completeness of code. Professional Web developers found they still needed to hand-code their Web pages, even with the most sophisticated WYSIWYG editor.
Dreamweaver acknowledges this reality and has integrated a superb visual editor with a number of text editors. You can work with Dreamweaver's internal HTML Inspector or a dedicated external editor. Figure 1-1 shows Dreamweaver's visual editor and text editor working together. Any change made in the visual editor is instantly reflected in the text editor and vice versa. While Dreamweaver enables you to work with any text editor you like, it includes both HomeSite for Microsoft Windows developers and a trial version of BBEdit for Macintosh developers. Dreamweaver enables a natural, dynamic flow between the visual and text editors....
...Figure 1-1: Dreamweaver enables you to work with a visual WYSIWYG editor and an HTML text editor simultaneously....
Most Web authoring programs modify any code that passes through their system — inserting returns, removing indents, adding <meta> tags, uppercasing commands, and so forth. Dreamweaver's programmers understand and respect that Web developers all have their own particular coding styles. An underlying concept, Roundtrip HTML, ensures that you can move back and forth between the visual editor and any HTML text editor without your code being rewritten.
Web site maintenance tools
The Dreamweaver creators also understand that creating a site is only a part of the Webmaster's job. Maintaining the Web site can be an ongoing, time-consuming chore. Dreamweaver simplifies the job with a group of site management tools, including a library of repeating elements and a file-locking capability for easy team updates.
In Dreamweaver, Web site maintenance is easier than ever — and very visual. Take note of the Site Map feature that enables you to view your Web site structure at a glance and to access any file for modification. Links are updated automatically, or are under user control, if a file moves from one directory to another. And, you can not only access a library of repeating elements to be inserted in the page, but also define templates to control the entire look and feel of a Web site — and modify a single template to update all the pages sitewide.
The Dreamweaver Interface
When creating a Web page, Webmasters do two things over and over: They insert an element — whether text, image, or layer — and then they modify it. Dreamweaver excels at such Web page creation. The Dreamweaver workspace combines a series of windows, palettes, and inspectors to make the process as fluid as possible, thereby speeding up the Webmaster's work.
Easy text entry
Although much of the World Wide Web's glitz comes from multimedia elements such as images and sound, Web pages are primarily a text-based medium. Dreamweaver recognizes this and makes the text cursor the default tool. To add text, just click in Dreamweaver's main workspace — the Document window — and start typing. As shown in Figure 1-2, the Text Property Inspector enables you to change characteristics of the text such as the size, font, position, or color....
...Figure 1-2: Use the Text Property Inspector to change the format of the selected text.
One-stop object modification
You can select Web page elements other than text from the Objects palette. Adding a picture to a Web page is as easy as clicking the Insert Image button from the Objects palette. Dreamweaver asks you to select the file for the image, and your image appears in your current cursor position. Once your graphic is onscreen, selecting it brings up the appropriate Property Inspector to enable you to make modifications. The same technique holds true for any other inserted element — from horizontal rules to Shockwave movies.
Complete custom environment
Dreamweaver enables you to customize your workspace to suit you best. A handy Launcher opens and closes various windows, palettes, and inspectors, all of which are movable. Just drag them wherever you want them onscreen. Want to see your page by itself? You can hide all windows at the touch of a function button; press it again, and your controls are revealed.
Dreamweaver's customization capabilities extend even further. If you find that you are inserting something over and over, such as a QuickTime video or .wav sound file, you can add that element to your Objects palette. Dreamweaver even enables you to add a specific element — a Home button, for example — to the Objects palette. In fact, you can add entire categories of objects if you like. Moreover, Dreamweaver 3 exposes the entire menu structure for customization —you can not only change keyboard shortcuts, but also add custom menus....