Dreamweaver 8 For Dummies

Dreamweaver 8 For Dummies

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by Janine Warner

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Your site can look like a million — even on a budget!

Use Dreamweaver's cool new tools to design a site with interactivity and style

Whether you're facing your first Web site challenge or taking an existing site to the next level, this book could be your dream come true. Here's how to develop a powerful site that's attractive, functional, and dynamic, and

See more details below


Your site can look like a million — even on a budget!

Use Dreamweaver's cool new tools to design a site with interactivity and style

Whether you're facing your first Web site challenge or taking an existing site to the next level, this book could be your dream come true. Here's how to develop a powerful site that's attractive, functional, and dynamic, and even weave in eye-popping effects with Shockwave® and Flash®.

Discover how to

  • Design pages and set up Web server access
  • Create layers and tables
  • Modify sites created in another program
  • Add dynamic effects
  • Work faster with templates
  • Use CSS and DHTML

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Dreamweaver 8 For Dummies

By Janine Warner

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-9649-7

Chapter One

Introducing Your New Best Friend

In This Chapter

* Introducing the new features of Dreamweaver 8

* Examining your Web site objectives

* Finding your way around in Dreamweaver

Welcome to the wonderful world of Dreamweaver 8. If you're an experienced Web designer, you're going to love the power and sophistication of this Web editor. If you're new to building Web sites, you'll appreciate its simplicity and intuitive interface. Either way, this chapter starts you on your way to making the most of Dreamweaver by introducing you to the menus and panels that make this program so useful.

Dreamweaver can help you with every aspect of Web development, from designing simple pages, to fixing links, to publishing your pages on the World Wide Web. Dreamweaver can handle the simplest HTML, as well as some of the most complex and advanced features possible on the Web, including Cascading Style Sheets and Dynamic HTML (see Chapters 8 and 9 for more information on these features). Dreamweaver also integrates a powerful HTML text editor into its easy-to-use graphical design environment so you can work in the HTML code if you prefer.

If you already work in another Web design program or you're updating a site that was created in another program, don't worry - you can use Dreamweaver to modify existing Web pages and continue to develop your Web site without losing all the time you've already invested. For example, if you've been working in a program such as Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe GoLive, you can change to Dreamweaver to edit and develop your site further. All Web design programs create HTML pages, and those pages can be opened in any other Web design program. At the end of this chapter, in the "Working on Web Pages Created in Another Web Design Program" section, you find a few warnings about the challenges you may encounter because the code can vary slightly from program to program, but once you clean up those differences, you should be fine.

In this chapter, you find an introduction to the new features in Dreamweaver 8, get a tour of the desktop, and gain an overview of what makes Dreamweaver such a powerful Web design program.

So What's New in Dreamweaver 8?

Now the good stuff. All those requests you make to Macromedia, all that wishful thinking ... believe it or not, they heard you and many of the little - and not so little - things we all have been wanting in this program are finally here, as well as a few extras you might expect!

The following list provides you a quick overview of some of the new features you find in version 8:

  •   When you first launch Dreamweaver 8, you'll notice a few changes to the Workspace. Although it has no dramatic changes, the programmers at Macromedia have added some clever new features, including a magnifying glass feature complete with a little icon in the status bar just below the work area. Much like the magnifiers common in image-editing programs, this new feature enables you to zoom in to view page elements in greater detail or zoom out to see the full layout of a larger page.

  •   You'll find some of the most extensive changes in the way Dreamweaver handles CSS - important upgrades as Cascading Style Sheets become increasingly popular among professional designers. Among other things, you'll find improved CSS rendering, better support for positioning, and a more unified CSS panel that includes the Rule Tracker, Property Grid, and a new Composite view.

  •   You can find one of my favorite new feature sets on the Edit menu. Paste Special enables you to paste formatted text (and even tables) from other programs, such as Microsoft Word or Excel, with options about what formatting is kept. You can choose to paste text with structural formatting, such as tables and paragraph marks; with or without basic formatting, such as bold and italics; and you can even opt to clean up the often problematic paragraph formatting from Word as you paste in the text. If you specify your choices in Dreamweaver's Preferences, anytime you use the paste feature your text is inserted based on your favorite options.

  •   Going beyond the predesigned templates included in previous versions, Dreamweaver now includes Starter Pages, which not only include topic-based designs. They actually include text. Of course, you can edit the text; but if you're creating a calendar of events or a product catalog, for example, the general text already in place on these pages gives you a head start.

  •   If you prefer working in Code view, where you can see all the HTML tags, you'll find a few enhancements to that interface, including a new toolbar that provides quick access to common commands and the capability to selectively expand and collapse code so you can focus on the area you are working on.

  •   I always recommend that you design your pages for the broadest audience, and that definitely includes designing for the disabled, such as the blind who use special browsers that read Web pages aloud. Macromedia has always been good about including accessibility features, and I'm pleased to see those features support the Priority 2 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

    Introducing the Many Components of Dreamweaver

    Dreamweaver can seem a bit overwhelming at first. It has so many features, and they are spread out in so many panels, toolbars, and dialog boxes that you can easily get lost. If you prefer to learn by poking around, have at it (and feel free to skip ahead to the next chapter where you start building your first Web page). If you want a tour before you get started, the next few sections introduce you to the interface and provide an overview of the basics of Dreamweaver. You also discover where to find common features and functions, which the rest of the book covers in more detail.

    The Workspace

    When you launch Dreamweaver, the Start Screen appears in the main area of the program (and it reappears anytime you don't have a file open). From the Start Screen, you can choose to create a new page from one of the many Dreamweaver pre-made templates, or you can create a new blank page by selecting HTML from the Create New options in the middle column. When you select HTML, Dreamweaver creates a new blank HTML page in the main Workspace, as shown in Figure 1-1. You can type text directly into any page in the Workspace and apply basic formatting with the many formatting options described later in this chapter.

    You build HTML pages, templates, style sheets, and so on in the Workspace, which consists of a main window that shows the page you're working on surrounded by a number of panels and menus that provide tools you can use to design and develop your pages (shown in Figure 1-1). The Dreamweaver Workspace consists of the following basic components: the menu bar (at the very top), the Insert bar (just below it), the Document window (the main area of the screen, just below the Insert bar), the Properties inspector (at the bottom of the screen), and the Vertical Docking panels (to the right of the Document window) that expand and collapse as needed. More detailed descriptions of each of these follows.

    The Document window

    The big, open area in the main area of the Workspace is the Document window, which is where you work on new and existing pages. If you use the Designer interface in Design view, you see your page as it would display in a Web browser. If you want to see the HTML code behind your page, click the Code button at the top of the work area. Choose the Split button to see the HTML code and Design view simultaneously (which you can see in Figure 1-2).

    Pages viewed on the World Wide Web may not always look exactly the way they do in the Document window in Dreamweaver because not all browsers support the same HTML features or display them identically. For best results, always test your work in a variety of Web browsers, and design your pages to work best in the browsers that your audience are most likely to use. Fortunately, Dreamweaver includes features that help you target your page designs to specific browsers, such as the Check Target Browsers feature covered in Chapter 3.)

    Customizing the interface

    The docking panels, palettes, and bars in Dreamweaver provide easy access to most of the program's features. The default settings put the Properties inspector at the bottom of the page, the Insert bar at the top, and the panels on the right, but you can move these elements around the screen by selecting them and use drag and drop to move them to another part of the screen. You can also close any or all the panels on the right by clicking the tiny Options icon in the top right of each panel and selecting Close Panel from the dropdown list (it looks like three bullet points with lines next to them and a little arrow underneath, and it's really, really small). You can close them all at once by choosing Window?Hide Panels (or by clicking the arrow in the middle of the row of panels), and you can access any or all the panels through the various options on the Window menu. If you want to open a particular panel - the CSS Styles panel, for example - choose Window[right arrow]CSS Styles and it expands to become visible on your screen. The Properties inspector, Insert bar, and panels are integral parts of this program, and you find a lot more information about them throughout the book. Check out the Cheat Sheet at the front of this book for a handy reference to the Properties inspector options. In Chapter 2, you discover how to use some of the most common features, such as the icon for inserting an image on the Insert bar at the top of the screen.

    The Insert bar

    The Insert bar, located at the top of the screen, comes with eight subcategories, each with a different set of icons representing common features. Click the small arrow to the right of the name to access the drop-down list to switch from displaying the buttons on one subcategory to showing the buttons for another. The options are

  •   Common bar: Displays icons for many of the most common features, including links, tables, and images.

  •   Layout bar: Displays layer and table options essential for creating complex layouts.

  •   Forms bar: Surprise! This one features all the most common form elements, such as radio buttons and boxes.
  •   Text bar: Displays common text-formatting features, including paragraphs, breaks, and lists.

  •   HTML bar: Offers a mishmash of raw HTML, such as rules, tables, frames and, scripts.

  •   Application: Use these options when building dynamic Web pages powered by database material.

  •   Flash elements: A single icon allows you to place a Flash file on your Web page.

  •   Favorites: Right-click (Windows) or Control+click (Mac) to customize your most-used HTML elements.

    At the very end of the drop-down list, you find the Show as Tabs option, which enables you to display the names of the Insert bars as tabs across the top of the screen, as shown in Figure 1-3.

    The Favorites Insert bar is blank by default, and you can customize it to hold your own collection of options. Simply right-click (Windows) or Control+click (Mac) in the bar and you can easily customize this bar.

    Throughout the book, I refer to these Insert bars by their full names, such as the Forms Insert bar or the Layout Insert bar. You find more information on each of these in their relevant chapters. For example, Chapter 12 covers the Forms Insert bar in detail; and Chapters 13, 14, and 15 cover the Application Insert bar.

    Figure 1-3 shows the Insert bar with the Common options visible and each name displayed in a tab across the top of the screen.

    The Properties inspector

    The Properties inspector is docked at the bottom of the page in Dreamweaver. If you prefer it at the top of the screen, you can drag it up there, and it locks into place; but I rather like that it's handy, yet out of the way, at the bottom of the screen.

    The Properties inspector displays the properties of a selected element on the page. A property is a characteristic of HTML - such as the alignment of an image or the size of a cell in a table - that you can assign to an element on your Web page. If you know HTML, you recognize these as HTML attributes.

    When you select any element on a page (such as an image), the inspector changes to display the relevant properties for that element, such as the height and width of an image. You can alter these properties by changing the fields in the Properties inspector. You can also set links and create image maps using the options in the Properties inspector.

    Figure 1-4 shows the image options displayed in the Properties inspector, including height and width, alignment, and the URL (Uniform Resource Locator or, more simply, Web address) to which the image links.


    At the bottom-right corner of the Properties inspector, you see a small arrow. Click this arrow (or double-click in any open inspector space) to reveal additional attributes that let you control more advanced features, such as the image map options when a graphic is selected.

    Figure 1-5 shows the Properties inspector when you select a table. Notice that the fields in the inspector reflect the attributes of an HTML table, such as the number of columns and rows. (See Chapter 6 to find out more about HTML tables.)

    The Docking panels

    The Docking panels, shown in Figure 1-6, are located to the right of the work area (although you can easily move them anywhere on the screen). The Docking panels display a variety of important features in Dreamweaver, including all the files and folders in a site (in the Files panel), Cascading Style Sheets (in the CSS panel) and more. You can open and close panels by clicking the small arrow to the left of the panel's name. To display more panels, select the panel name from the Window menu. To hide all the visible panels at once, click the tab with the small arrow in the middle, left of the row of panels.

    The following list offers a description of some of the elements that you access through the Docking panels (the others are described in greater detail in their respective sections of the book).

  •   Files panel: Shown in Figure 1-6, the Files panel lists all the folders and files in a Web site and helps you manage the structure and organization of the site. You can move files in and out of folders and even create new folders in this panel, and Dreamweaver automatically adjusts any related links. The Files panel is also where you access FTP (file transfer protocol) capabilities to upload or download files from a server. You can use the Connect button at the top of this panel to dial quickly into your server and use the Get Files and Put Files arrows to transfer pages. (See Chapter 2 for more about the Files panel and built-in FTP features.)

  •   Assets panel: The Assets panel, shown in Figure 1-7, automatically lists all the images, colors, external links, multimedia files, scripts, templates, and Library items in a Web site. You can add a stored item, such as a graphic, to a Web page simply by dragging the element into the work area. You find more on templates and Library items in Chapter 4.

    These features work only if you define your site using the Site Definition dialog box (by choosing Site[right arrow]Manage Sites) and then identifying the main folder of your Web site. If you find that the Library or other options aren't available, follow the steps in Chapter 2 to define your site (a setup process you should go through for all your sites).

  •   CSS panel: The Cascading Style Sheets panel includes Layers and CSS Styles panels. CSS styles are similar to style sheets used in word processing and desktop publishing programs, such as Microsoft Word and QuarkXPress. You define a style and name it, and the style is then included in the CSS Styles panel (see Figure 1-8). The Layers panel provides access to layers options, which enable you to precisely position elements on a page. (For more information about CSS and layers, see Chapters 8 and 9.)

  •   Tag panel: The Tag panel provides access to attributes and behaviors. In Dreamweaver, behaviors are scripts (usually written in JavaScript) that you can apply to objects to add interactivity to your Web page. Essentially, a behavior is made up of a specified event that, when triggered, causes an action. For example, an event may be a visitor clicking an image, and the resulting action may be that a sound file plays.


    Excerpted from Dreamweaver 8 For Dummies by Janine Warner Excerpted by permission.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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