Tool

Macromedia – Press Room : Major Performance and Stability Boosts for Macromedia Dreamweaver and Studio Released

Yes, that is yours truly quoted in the fourth paragraph. I am such a tool…

The update does increase performance on my PowerBook dramatically. I do almost all my HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP work in Dreamweaver now, thanks to this major bug fix release. Good stuff. I’d be much less productive without it.

Speaking of… I see Dreamweaver in it’s latest incarnation as a productivity tool for web designers. Sure, there are some WYSIWIG features and I sure do use them from time to time, but it’s not the usual thing. To get the most out of Dreamweaver, you really have to understand HTML and CSS. Design View in Dreamweaver is for quick checks, quickly moving absolutely positioned elements to the right ballpark, and working with text in a more human way than sifting through reams of code and struggling to remember character entities.

But all the while, the web developer using Dreamweaver must keep in close contact with their code. I write up all my HTML and CSS in Code View when starting new pages, and am constantly checking and re-checking my output in Design View as well as major browsers. Dreamweaver can’t understand the semantic intent of your copy, and can’t write CSS in the most logical, hierarchical, and compact way. Both those activities and other related issues require a thinking web developer with a good knowledge of the underlying technologies in order to create a truly excellent web page that looks good and functions well. Simply throwing a bunch of objects together in Design View is going to create a bulky and disorganized mess that probably works in only one or two browsers, if that.

Where I see the productivity benefits when using Dreamweaver are in things like the code completion – a drop-down list of possible attributes appear when you’re cranking out code in Code View that list all the possible choices, which makes it easier to remember things like what properties go with the select tag or what the possible values are for a given CSS shorthand property. Site management is another feature I like – simplifying search and replace from criteria as narrow as a selected code block to an entire site, managing file operations, and enabling some basic collaboration so you don’t have to configure CVS or buy SourceSafe, or–God forbid–Teamsite, just to work with a couple other web developers and not be constantly clobbering each others’ work. There’s tons more, those just

Basically my take is, if you don’t know what you’re doing, Dreamweaver isn’t going to help much. But that is not to say that Dreamweaver can’t help you get there. It is an outstanding web development tool, and a huge time saver. The latest version creates valid HTML out of the box. There are tools out there that perhaps in one way or another do a better job of a feature or two, but it is the sum of it’s parts that make it my primary web development tool.