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Upgrade Review Adobe's Macromedia Dreamweaver 8

If you have been building websites and web applications with AdobeR MacromediaR DreamweaverR, you will appreciate the improvements and new features added to this latest upgrade. On the other hand, if you are considering a purchase of this type of software, you will certainly want to check out Dreamweaver 8.

Whether you prefer to write your own code or lean more toward web design software, Dreamweaver 8 has many new features for both methods. The first thing you will see is the familiar Welcome screen where you can get a jump start on your project by choosing between many predesigned pages from basic HTML to advanced CSS. As with all the software in the Studio 8 suite, the workspace can be further customized to meet your specific needs and you can easily switch between the Design view, Code view and Split (Design and Code) view.

Code View

Let's take a look at the Code view which has several new features and improvements. The new Coding Toolbar on the left side of the workspace contains buttons for the most common tasks. Three of the new buttons on this toolbar will help when working with large pages of code. You can visually collapse sections of your code with the two collapse code buttons. The Collapse Full Tag button will collapse all the code between a specific opening and closing tag such as all the code in the head section. The Collapse Selection button will collapse all the code which you have selected. For quick reference of the collapsed code, all you need to do is place your mouse pointer over the colored area, which represents the collapsed code, and the hidden code will appear as a popup tooltip. When you are finished, just click the Expand All button in the Coding Toolbar. Another tool you will appreciate is the Highlight Invalid Code which will automatically highlight any invalid code in your document. When coding by hand one common debugging practice is to "comment out" part of your code for testing purposes. Now, you can do this easily with the Apply Comment and Remove Comment buttons. Other improvements to the Insert Bar, Document Toolbar, Tag Selector, Results Panel, Style Rendering Toolbar and the Property Inspector work for both the Code and Design views.

Design View

For the designers among you, Dreamweaver 8 has made creating complex websites and web applications much easier. The Insert Bar has buttons for the most common tasks such as inserting hyperlinks, tables, div tags, images, SSI and comments. Next, the improved CSS Panel is now an all-in-one panel which displays the CSS information for the entire document or a selected element. You can change each attribute from within the CSS panel. There are several improvements to the Document Toolbar. You will especially like the Visual Aids menu which includes the CSS Layout Backgrounds command that uses color to indicate the nested relationships of your CSS layout blocks such as div tags. This is very helpful when working on large and complex webpages. You can get a tooltip view of the CSS attributes attached to any layout block by placing you mouse pointer over the selected block. Also in the Document Toolbar is the Validate Markup menu from which you can choose to validate the current document, a group of selected files or the entire site. An explanation of any invalid code appears in the Results Panel. The Preview in Browser feature has been improved to give a better representation for both Internet ExplorerR and FirefoxTM which are the two most popular web browsers. Another preview feature is the Style Rendering Toolbar which will display your document as it will appear in various media formats such as screen, print, handheld device, projector, TTY and TV.

When you are ready to publish or update your website, the improved FTP feature will now upload "in the background" allowing you to continue to work. Dreamweaver also supports various databases and languages for dynamic websites such as PHP, ColdFusion, ASP, ASP.NET and JSP.

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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