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Product Review Adobe's Macromedia Contribute 3

There is much talk about the "headliners" from MacromediaR Studio 8 (AdobeR Web Bundle) which are DreamweaverR, FlashR and FireworksR. But, ContributeTM 3 is also included in Studio 8. So what is Contribute? Contribute, which has been around for some time, is a website maintenance software. In a way, it is a mini version of Dreamweaver meant for maintaining an existing website in a WYSIWYG environment. Contribute has a user interface from which you can browse to a webpage that you wish to edit and with one click of the Edit Page button, the browser switches to the WYSIWYG editor.

Of course, you can't just browse the web and start editing just any webpage. You first need to gain editing access to the webpage/website by creating a connection with the easy-to-use Connection Wizard. You can set the connection via FTP, secure FTP (SFTP), local/network or WebDAV. The one most of you will recognize is the FTP connection. Once you have the connection, you can easily choose which pages to work on through a dialog box which gives a nice preview of each webpage on the site, just in case you can't recognize the pages from their names.

Once the page is loaded into the editor, you can begin. So what can you do? Well, let me start by saying that, although Contribute is HTML and CSS compliant, it is not meant to be used as an HTML code editor. To edit the HTML code, you will need to use a program such as Dreamweaver. On the other hand, if you can format text in a word processing program such as MicrosoftR Word, you can use Contribute to make format and layout changes to the text, images and CSS styles on your webpages. You can even add PayPalR components such as Buy Now buttons. All of this is done from within the WYSIWYG environment.

For image editing tasks, this latest version of Contribute has more powerful editing tools. From the Image Editing Toolbar, you can resize, rotate, crop, sharpen and control brightness/contrast. You can also use the Image Properties Dialog Box to set the display properties (width and height) or set the padding and alignment of an image on the webpage. If an image is to be used as a hyperlink button, you can manage the link properties from another dialog box.

Now, to work on the text. From the Text Formatting Toolbar, you can set the font, style, size, format (bold and italic), alignment and color. You can create a numbered or bulleted list, outdent and indent text. Working with CSS styles has been improved in that you have a visual representation of the styles applied to the page from a drop-down menu.

From the Editor Toolbar, you can insert a link and image, create a table or control the page properties. Once you have completed your editing, you can publish the webpage (replace the original webpage on the web server with your edited version), save your edited version as a draft for further editing or send it to someone for approval.

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AdobeR product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated. AdobeR, BridgeR, IllustratorR, PhotoshopR, PhotoshopR AlbumTM, DreamweaverR, FireworksR and FlashR are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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