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The most powerful website management program
on January 16, 2002
If you have used Dreamweaver before, you know its possibilities. However, if you had a brief adventure with Adobe GoLive, or have been a longtime user of Microsoft FrontPage, and finally if you are new to HTML, you might consider reading this review, which is tailored for you.
REMARKS FOR HTML NOVICES
There are many ways to learn HTML, and you probably heard that there are programs which allow you to construct web pages using a visual, graphical interface, instead of monkishly writing the code. Whereas you can start from scratch, purchase a HTML compendium and then use a pure text editor to write your own code, it's not the most efficient way of doing things. Dreamweaver offers you a powerful interface, which combines all possible ways of doing the same thing. First of all, like many editors out there, it has a mode of workspace, which allows you to write the pure code. If something is wrong, it will highlight the erroneous tags and text commands you have typed. It offers tools, which clean up the code you wrote. Whatever you coded, you can always switch to 'visual' design mode, where you see what you designed. In other words, if you drew a table, the design mode will show you a table as it will look on the web, and then you can click the "code" button to see how Dreamweaver used HTML to write correct information about that table. This way, you can quickly and efficiently learn HTML, because you see it at work, and can stop at any time to see why this was coded in such and such way. The uniqueness of Dreamweaver is that it offers you the third mode, combining both the design mode and code mode. Clicking the third button, your screen is split horizontally into two windows, and in one you see the code, in another you see the real thing. In the code window, Dreamweaver simultaneously codes whatever you do in the visual window. In effect - you see the changes made in real time, which is even better for learning HTML. That's not all! The latest version of software offers a small panel, a little window, which can be hidden and shown at any time, using the launcher, a small set of icons on the status bar. There, you can look at any HTML tag, and get a full explanation (Reilly Reference) of what it does, and all possible switches and parameters used for a given tag. Also, any option called from the menu of the program has a handy HELP button, which will take you directly to the part of extensive help system of the program, where you are presented with all explanations, including screenshots. This means you will not have to search yourself, since as a novice, more often than not you won't know what you're looking for. Dreamweaver makes it easy. There is no user-friendlier program for novices that Macromedia's Dreamweaver. It's also inexpensive.
PALETTES and ERGONOMICS: Dreamweaver offers incredible set of tools for a seasoned web-designer. The same thing can be done in many ways, depending on your level of proficiency. Just like Adobe's GoLive, Dreamweaver uses floating, customizable palettes of tools - but where the two programs differ, is the actual ergonomics of palettes. In GoLive, it's very hard to work normally, unless you have two-monitor system. If the palettes are hidden, you have no way of using them, since many commands are not available elsewhere. Wherever you push the palette, it jumps back when you switch from code view to design view. In Dreamweaver, palettes stay where you want them to stay, and each palette has tabs, which save space, offering different set of tools depending on a tab. They take little space, and can be called into the screen in many ways, not to forget the always-present launcher at the task-bar.
VERIFICATION: The program forces you to write good code, and if you work in design view, it will generate excellent HTML code, which will be hassle-free for any browser. You also have a wide array of verification tools, including HTML cleanup, World Wide Web specification verifier, and last but not least, browser compatibility tool, which allows you to double-check cross-browser compatibility. This way you can ensure that everyone will see what you intend them to see. That's what past FrontPage users will find invaluable, since they are probably used to complaints that their FrontPage-generated output is messy, error-prone, and incompatible. Another verification tool is the site management menu, which can be accessed directly, or via the launcher, which opens a separate window, where you can modify the navigation, check and modify the links sitewide, replace links, text and anything.