Welcome to Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver is a program for producing and managing Web sites. It lets you build Web pages and Web sites quickly and maintain them with ease. Its graphical user interface lets Web designers create pages in an intuitive, visual manner. In addition, Dreamweaver lets you manage complex Web sites and add interactive behavior, advanced Web technologies like Cascading Style Sheets, and Dynamic HTML.
And you don't need to build your sites from scratch with Dreamweaver, either. Dreamweaver happily opens Web pages and Web sites that were created in another program without destroying any of your carefully handcrafted code. Dreamweaver's Round-Trip HTML feature works to ensure that HTML written by hand within Dreamweaver (or any text editing program) stays the way you want it.
Some of Dreamweaver's key benefits include:
Visual page building.
If you've spent any time using a text editor to punch out the HTML code for your Web pages, you know the tedium involved in adding even a simple item like a photograph to a Web page.
Dreamweaver, on the other hand, takes a visual approach to building Web pages. If you put an image on your page, Dreamweaver shows you the picture on the screen. As in a word processor, which displays documents on screen as they should look when printed, Dreamweaver provides a very close approximation of what your Web page will look like in a Web browser.
Complex interactivity, simply.
You've probably seen Web pages where a graphic (on a navigation bar, for example) lights up or changes appearance when you move your mouse over it.
Roundtrip HTML. Every now and then, even in Dreamweaver, you may sometimes want to put aside the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) view and look at the underlying HTML code of a page. You may feel more comfortable creating some of your HTML by hand, for example, or you may want to tweak the HTML that Dreamweaver produces.
Macromedia realized that many professional Web developers still do a lot of work "down in the trenches;" typing HTML commands by hand. In Dreamweaver, you can edit the raw HTML to your heart's content. Switching back and forth between the visual mode-called the Design view-and the Code view is seamless and, best of all, nondestructive. Unlike many visual Web page programs, where making a change in the WYSIWYG mode stomps all over the underlying HTML code, Dreamweaver respects hand-typed code and doesn't try to rewrite it (unless you ask it to).
See Chapter 9 to learn more about how Dreamweaver handles HTML.
Site management tools.
Rarely will you build just a single Web page. More often, you'll be creating and editing pages that work together to form part of a Web site. Or you may be building an entire Web site from scratch.
Either way, Dreamweaver's site management tools make your job of dealing with site development easier. From managing links, images, pages, and other media to working with a team of people and moving your site onto a Web server, Dreamweaver automates many of the routine tasks every Webmaster faces. Part IV of this book looks at how Dreamweaver can help you build and maintain Web sites.
Have it your way.
As if Dreamweaver didn't have enough going for it, the engineers at Macromedia have created a software product that is completely customizable, or as they call it, extensible. Anyone can add to or change the menus, commands, objects, and windows in the program.
Suppose, for example, that you hardly ever use any of the commands in the Edit menu. By editing one text file in the Dreamweaver Configuration folder, you can get rid of any unwanted menu items-or even add new commands of your creation. This incredible flexibility lets you customize the program to fit your work methods, even add features that Macromedia's programmers never imagined. Best of all, the Macromedia Exchange Web site includes hundreds of free extensions to download and add to Dreamweaver. See Chapter 19 for details.