Category Archives: Tutorials

Adobe Dreamweaver


Adobe Dreamweaver is a desktop-based web development software application, that was originally developed by Macromedia (who were purchased by and merged into Adobe Systems Incorporated in December 2005). Versions of the software are available for both the Microsoft Windows operating systems and Apple Macintosh computers. As well as supporting the design of web pages and web sites using HTML, recent versions of Dreamweaver have also added support for other web techologies, including CSS and JavaScript, and server-side scripting languages such as ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Java Server Pages (“JSP”) and PHP.

Dreamweaver is based around a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) development environment that is powered using the Presto layout engine (originally developed for the Opera web browser). Editing of web pages, is all done on the user’s local (client) computer, and only when the changes are complete, are the edited files are uploaded to the user’s web server.

Dreamweaver incorporates a number of features that makes it well suited for use by professional web developers. These include the ability to access underlying the code behind web pages and edit it using a powerful syntax highlighting (keywords are automatically colored according to their function) editor, find and replace capabilities, the ability to convert HTML tables to layers and vice versa, and a template feature that makes creating multiple pages with similar structures into a breeze.

Like many other Adobe applications, one of the best features of the program is that it is extensible. A wide variety of third party extensions are available that add additional capabilities to the program (ranging from graphics effects to complete HTMLecommerce building systems) are available – some of these extensions are free, whereas others are commercial. Additionally, the program’s ubiquity means that there are large numbers of people who know how to use the software, and many helpful resources available including Internet tutorials about books about Dreamweaver.


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Why is Dreamweaver So Popular?


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.


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Five Beginner Tips for Writing HTML and CSS


1) Start with the latest versions.

With any technology, there is no reason to start with the version that was popular 5 years ago. Start learning with what is current. As of this writing, HTML5 and CSS3 are the standards. Begin here and work your way forward. You will actually get to avoid a lot of the issues inherent in previous versions.

2) Create a simple WordPress site and then dissect it.

You want me to create a site before I know who to actually build it? Yes. This is how I learned. I installed WordPress and created a simple site. Don’t worry, there are plenty of resources around to help you do this. Once installed and the website is up and running, dissect it piece by piece. Figure out what goes into the header tag. Learn about meta tags. View the page source of the home page and begin to understand DIVs. Learn how the navigation structure works, etc. There is no better tutor than real practice. If you have a real site to play with, it makes it all the more exciting. You will eventually learn your craft and gain proficiency.

3) Work top to bottom.

Start with the header tag and then the body tag. Then begin to fill in the gaps. Start at the top working on logo placement and navigational structure. The latter will keep you busy for a while! Move to understanding body layout: two column and three column design. Understand sidebars. Finally, work on footers. Then go back and fill in some of the meat. Figure out image placement and link colorization. Understand text arrangement: paragraphs, ordered and unordered lists, blockquotes, etc.

4) Find excellent tutorials

There are plenty of good tutorials around. A few words of advice: Start with a the free tutorials but move on quickly to solid “pay” resources whether that is a book or a website. A lot of tutorial websites have a reputation. Search their names in Google to see if there are any reviews. A lot of tutorials are not updated to the latest version of the technology. So be careful! Double check and make sure you are working with HTML5 and CSS3 material.

5) Use the Internet everyday

Chances are you would no be interested in learning HTML and CSS if you were not already an avid web user. Continue to use the web everyday. Visit all kinds of sites. View their page source and learn how they structure their site. Appreciate good design from bad design.

Lastly, my bonus tip, have fun!


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