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on April 18, 2010
I bought the Dreamweaver CS3 version of this book and loved it. However, when Dreamweaver CS4 came out, I decided to get the updated book. While this book is completely revised and updated for Dreamweaver CS4, there is still some common content between the two books, and hence my 4-star rating.

Right off the bat, this book starts off with an introduction of the *new* features of Dreamweaver CS4, giving me a 'jumpstart' in using Dreamweaver CS4 and getting comfortable with it. The CS4 version dropped mainly three chapters from the CS3 book; Building Dynamic Websites with PHP & Ajax, Getting the Work Environment Ready, and Setting up MySQL and phpMyAdmin. The 'dropped' content wasn't as so much as cut out of the book entirely, but re-edited to suit other chapters in the book in a more seamless fashion. (i.e., instead of a full chapter on MySQL, the book now touches on it in talking about creating/accessing a database.) On thing that seemingly did get cut out from the CS4 book entirely was the 'Getting the Work Environment Ready' chapter, so readers may want to borrow a book (or two!) from a library about creating a LAMP server on the same machine or elsewhere.

The CS4 book has added new content, and updated other chapters. The new content mostly covered...
* Creating a Web Page and Adding Content
* Using Spry Dynamic Effects and Components
* Going Beyond the Basics with Spry and Ajax
* Working with Templates and InContext Editing
* Deploying Your Site on the Internet
* Generating XML with PHP

What I loved most about the new content focused on Spry, Ajax, and Dynamic website building. One particular thing I've loved about the book was that the author made several attempts to explain what the Dreamweaver server-side PHP (or client side Spry) code was actually doing, and how to 'tinker' with them in achieving a desired result.

Overall, this book will give you a solid introduction in using Dreamweaver CS4 in creating standards-compliant dynamic websites with a minimum amount of pain associated with hand coding.
4 helpful votes
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on October 20, 2010
This is a totally awesome book, if you were to get only one book on Dreamweaver this should be it. I am a computer science student working on a double major of software engineering and web development, I 3 of David Powers most recent books, all of them are worth their weight in gold, when I saw this book I bought it immediately.

The reasons I like his books are:
1) They are totally on topic, he covers what he says he will
2) They are written in simple non-technobabble, his style of writing is simple to read and understand
3) He takes the time to cover what you need to know and stays on subject, no wandering mind issues
4) As far as I have seen, all of his code works, I have not covered all of his books from cover to cover, but as a comp sci student who reads butt loads of these type books and finds errors often, I can say these are some of the least error filled books, I own well over 200 books on programming, web development and all computer science subjects.
5) He has some really cool, really useful examples, all of which are the things you would encounter and need in the real world.

This book is cool because he shows you how to totally set up a local test environment with Apache, PHP, MySQL and Dreamweaver, and even how to create virtual hosts in apache(I have not found a book yet, other than books on apache,that tell you how to do it with pictures)the explanation of how to set up your testing environment makes the book worth owning alone.

This is not a beginners book, this is not going to hold your hand and teach you the subjects , it would be beneficial to have some HTML,CSS,Ajax, MySQL and PHP experience. What this does show you is how to incorporate all of these subjects and how to use Dreamweaver to do it effectively and efficiently. However you do not need to know anything about Dreamweaver, that is mainly what the book is about, if you know HTML, CSS and PHP, this book will show you how to create entire sites with Dreamweaver and those languages, that is what it is about, not teaching you anyone of those subjects, but how to use them in Dreamweaver.

As a computer science student I run into many people who should not be going into the field, who will not be successful, those same people tend to give these kind of books crappy review. It is their frustration in not understanding the subject, usually, I do have some crappy books though, and unfortunately one of my next classes uses one of the crappy books. It is full of errors, both in syntax of the language and the concepts of or lack of security. Davids books even cover security issues, they are really great books, this one is well worth whatever you buy it for.
1 helpful vote
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on May 31, 2012
I am less than satisfied with this book. I purchased Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax and PHP specifically to learn how to successfully send form email to the server via PHP. While the instructions were clear enough; my end results were unsuccessful. I was unable to successfully send text form information to the server. I sought to compare the PHP code I had entered into Dreamweaver against the author example.

However, that proved to be impossible. I couldn't find the complete PHP code examples in the book. What I did find in the introduction section of this book, under the subtitle "Using the download files" directions to the author's websites ([...]) where all the book's example are available for download. Which would be great, accept the server hosting the author's website requires a user name and password; and without this information the author's website cannot be accessed.

If you are a newbie to PHP and interested in the learning PHP code for sending information to the server; I recommend you find another book. In my opinion by failing to make the complete code examples available to the audience, the authors botched the delivery of the most significant self-help tool for do-it-yourselfer like me--the ability to investigate your success or lack thereof.
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on January 25, 2009
Finally - a book for what is NEW in Dreamweaver. There have been many exciting changes in web development, and in Dreamweaver. It is frustrating to only find books that begin at - the - very - beginning.
The Essentail Guide to DW CS4 brings the intermediate and advanced web designer up to speed with clear and brilliant tutorials. There are some "texty" areas, but Powers acknowledges how tedious it is to read about programming - and gets back to hands on quickly.
Wish there were more authors out there who see the need for books that jump in 'beyond the basics'.
Thank you.
(I'm a mac, so it was a bit rough setting up a dynamic site with this book. I used the Missing Manual series to walk through that part...MM is mac friendly :)
PS - If you do the tutorials out of order, you may not have the necessary files for the sprys. MADDENING. If Amazon would let me take away a star I would for this very reason ...
6 helpful votes
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on March 16, 2010
I have painfully gone through 4 other books in my process of learning Dreamweaver. And I can't praise David enough for his clear and step by step writing style that has truly brought this software into focus. The biggest benefit for me was the actual step by step exercises that build upon each other. Allowing for the big picture to evolve naturally.

Don't waste your money on other books, if you have the basics down but need to take that next step, this may be your book.

The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax, and PHP (Essentials)

NOTE: For those of you using SnowLeopard 10.6.2 The correct step by step creation of server testing with MAMP (In Chapter 2) can be found here - [...].

FURTHER: The standard FREE version of MAMP seems to work fine for those on 10.6.2 [...].
2 helpful votes
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on June 2, 2012
This book has such a nice style and tutorial methods that I use all the time. Most of it is learn then just keep doing it that way.
I have found returning myself chapters and getting new ideas on how to approach something after months of doing them, thsi book is so good i have bought 4 other David Powers books because of it. True this one seems to be the best of the bunch, but that should explain how good it is.
So if you are looking for a great book to learn CS4 Dreamweaver this is the book and almost all of the techniques, if not all should still work with cs6.
i would buy it again today and recommend it to others all the time.
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on June 27, 2009
This book is a must have to all new Dreamweaver, MySQL and PHP users. The exercises are very good and very easy to follow.I had no previous experience with Dreamweaver, MySQL or PHP and now I can manage my new dynamic website!
12 helpful votes
13 helpful votes
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on March 11, 2010
So I can do some forms of coding such as HTML and a little CSS but I wasn't all too familiar with Dreamweaver CS4. To make a long story short, I didn't read this book from front to end but I now definitely know what I'm doing...and it's perfect to use as a desk reference for it's easy to just find the chapter on whatever problem you need help with.
1 helpful vote
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on February 28, 2010
Out of all the books I have read and the classes I have taken on webdesign David Powers is the best at explaining and teaching the reader all that Dreamweaver CS4 has to offer. This is the best book on the market. I am sure that he will be writing another book when CS5 comes out. I highly recommend his books.
1 helpful vote
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on February 17, 2010
The Dreamweaver CS4 book was priced just right. I was able to save some money compared to the Student Book Store.
It came in just a couple of days. When it arrived it was is good condition and overall I was very happy with my Amazon purchase. I would definitely recommend anyone to use Amazon to make their school book purchases.
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