Top positive review
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Great book for getting started with Dreamweaver CS4
on December 20, 2009
I purchased three books to help me learn Dreamweaver:
Dreamsweaver CS4 for Dummies (this book)
Dreamweaver CS4: The Missing Manual
The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax and PHP
I started with Dreamweaver CS4 for Dummies, which I found to be a pretty good book. I was able to read it cover to cover (though it's not necessary to do so to get started). In addition to a good basic overview, it had a couple of very helpful tips in a chapter called "10 Resources You Might Need."
As my design became more detailed, I felt the need for a book that went into more depth and bought the other two books listed above. I like both books, but find I rely on The Missing Manual the most. Its writing is clear and easy to follow. The numerous tutorials give step-by-step instructions for a beginner on how to accomplish various tasks, with more advanced details included in the text.
I like The Essential Guide as well, but since I'm not using PHP, I find that there are areas where the advice they give simply doesn't work for me. For example, when I wanted to learn more about using templates, The Essential Guide gave only a very basic explanation, then went into far more detail about using PHP "includes" instead. While I agree that the PHP "includes" are probably the better choice, it's not one that is available to me since I don't have a PHP testing server (and don't want to go through the complexity of setting one up on my home computer). If you are using PHP, then this is definitely the book to get.
All in all, if I had to recommend one book to get started, it would be For Dummies, particularly if your needs are very simple and/or you're completely new to web site design. For those who want to move beyond the basics, I like The Missing Manual the best. This book could also be used by beginners as long as you're not put off by its length -- with over 1,000 pages, it's not one you'll be able to read cover to cover. I think The Essential Guide is best suited for those who want to create very complex designs, especially those that use PHP. It, too, is very clearly written, but more intimidating to a beginner.