Dreamweaver is by far the most popular web creation software amongst users ranging from novices to experienced web site designers. Why is this? It’s a relatively expensive package and there are lots of other web creation applications out there to choose from, so what makes Dreamweaver so special? The answer lies in the way Dreamweaver has been designed and supported, first by Macromedia and now by Adobe. We’ll look at the design features first then the support features.
Dreamweaver design features
From its early beginnings Dreamweaver has been designed as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web editor, but with the resulting HTML code easily viewable and editable. To illustrate this in the latest version , ensure you have launched Dreamweaver CS4 and are currently viewing the Welcome Screen (this has a green bar at the screen top).
Click the option “HTML” under the “Create new” column. In the resulting new blank page add a 3 x 3 table. To do this click on the Table button on the Insert Toolbar (the toolbar should be there by default, but if not choose, Window, Insert).
To view the HTML code click on the “Code” button on the same toolbar. To see a split view click on “Split”, so you can work on the design and resulting code at the same time. To return to the initial view click on “Design”.
Dreamweaver allows you to change views in this way so different kinds of users can work in the view best suited to their needs. So beginners might only work in Design View to add items such as text, tables and images whereas HTML coders might work directly in code or split view.
For more experienced users the other options under the “Create New” column in the Welcome Screen all create new HTML pages but with specialised coding options also available, for example PHP or ASP to work with databases. So Dreamweaver has the capability to be used in different ways for a variety of different users needs. Next we’ll look at Dreamweaver support features.
Dreamweaver support features
If you go to the Adobe Dreamweaver Support Centre website and click on “Dreamweaver Online Help” you’ll see that there lots of help and support topics including tutorials, template samples and add-on downloads. The help topics range from introductory level subjects such as how to build your first website to more advanced subjects such as how to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There’s also a Dreamweaver forum to discuss issues and a Dreamweaver Developer Centre for guidance on more advanced topics.
In addition Dreamweaver has also always been available as a free, fully functioning 30 day trial download. So if you’re a budding web designer just starting out you can learn a lot in 30 days with the trial application and the online tutorials. If you decide to purchase Dreamweaver you can then convert the trial to a full version by purchasing a serial number.
There are help and support links available in Dreamweaver itself as well. Launch Dreamweaver CS4 and you’re taken to the Welcome Screen. On the lower left under “Getting Started” you’ll see various very useful online help links covering introductory and more advanced topics.
On the central panel in the Welcome screen you’ll see two columns, “Create New” and “Top Features (videos)”. Under “Top Features (videos)” you’ll see links to short help videos which demonstrate particular Dreamweaver topics, so in addition to traditional text based help, including downloadable PDF files, you can now choose help topics from an expanding video library for CS4, with topics for beginners to more advanced users.
So all in all there is a wealth of online help and support catering for many different levels of users needs, with help available in different formats. There’s also help for users of previous versions of Dreamweaver. This level of user support means that whether you’re a raw beginner or an experienced web designer you should be able to find help relevant to your interests.
Dreamweaver has been successfully designed to cater for different levels of users with help available for different skill levels and in different formats. To really learn how to use Dreamweaver CS4 to its full potential you might consider attending a tutor lead training course, enabling you to focus on the key features relevant to your needs.