Imagine that you wanted to use Dreamweaver MX as the front end of a content management system. Or, what if you wanted to build an extension that used Dreamweaver MX and Fireworks MX together -- perhaps to simplify the creation of individual thumbnails? Where would you go to learn how?
Dreamweaver MX is nearly infinitely extensible. More and more web developers crave this extensibility, but few Dreamweaver books offer them much help. Until Joseph Lowery’s Beyond Dreamweaver.
You probably know Lowery as author of the Dreamweaver and Fireworks Bibles, or perhaps as author of the extremely useful From FrontPage to Dreamweaver. You may not know that he’s written extensions which now ship with Dreamweaver and Fireworks, or that he created the Deva Tools™ for Dreamweaver for building sophisticated navigation systems in no time. With contributions from former Dreamweaver development team member Joe Marini, Lowery offers practical instructions and guidance for taking Dreamweaver far beyond the limits of conventional web design.
Let’s return to the example of content management systems -- the subject of this book’s first chapter. In many organizations, CMS has become a holy grail of sorts, promising to streamline the management of vast amounts of information, lower costs, simplify workflow, and allow writers and designers to focus on the tasks they’re best at. Dreamweaver can be jiggered to work with many content management systems, but how to do so isn’t self-evident.
Lowery walks you through the process, step-by-step. Two processes, actually: first, an easier approach that uses Dreamweaver templates, and then a better approach, in which you integrate a new document type into Dreamweaver. To do that, you must create a new document type XML file, save a prototype of your document in the New Documents folder; add the document’s extension to the Extensions.txt file, and make sure the file type is editable by Dreamweaver. Sounds complex, but Lowery walks you through every step. He then shows you the huge productivity payoff that comes with setting up custom tag libraries and Dreamweaver workspaces to accompany your new document type.
Next, Lowery covers techniques for designing accessible web sites with Dreamweaver. (Lest you still think so, accessibility isn’t just “nice” -- and it doesn’t just apply to federal government sites anymore.) Lowery then walks through using Dreamweaver MX to implement all 16 key guidelines, from text tags and color to electronic forms and navigation links. Yes, Dreamweaver MX has much-improved support for accessibility, but compliance requires you to do far more than just check a few Preferences boxes.
For example, notes Lowery, one readability guideline specifies that “documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet” -- and that can be a minefield for the unwary CSS user. Similarly, some interpretations of the standards for data tables are far more rigid that Dreamweaver’s; Lowery shows you how to add the extra markup Dreamweaver leaves out.
Gradually, Lowery moves from specific solutions (such as editing SMIL multimedia files with Dreamweaver) to broader issues of extensibility and cross-product integration. For example, there are detailed chapters on automating the production of web pages, first from XML data and then from other data sources.
There’s an amazing amount of power in Dreamweaver MX that even expert web designers and developers haven’t unearthed yet. Joseph Lowery’s Beyond Dreamweaver maps the terrain and points you towards the treasure. 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.