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Dreamweaver 8 For Dummies
By Janine Warner
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-7645-9649-7
Chapter OneIntroducing 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:
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.
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
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).
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).
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