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Dreamweaver 4

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  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good
  • $299.00

Pros

  • Revamped user interface with new Assets panel, improved Design window and integrated code editor
  • ability to create Flash buttons and text.

Cons

  • Not an easy program to learn
  • user interface can be cluttered unless displayed on a high-resolution screen.

Macromedia's Dreamweaver is already one of the best-regarded Web design and development packages available, and release 4 makes significant improvements.

Macromedia has taken the brave step of revamping the user interface, implementing the common interface first seen in Flash, but now also used by Dreamweaver and Fireworks. Some keyboard shortcuts and menu items have changed, but as the entire interface is user configurable, there is nothing to stop you customising the interface to use any menu structure and keyboard shortcuts you wish.

Dreamweaver now has an Assets panel, with icons to select images, colours, URLs, Flash, Shockwave, Movies, scripts, templates and your library items. For example, Templates is now included in the Assets panel rather than with HTML and CSS styles, and there is no longer a shortcut to templates -- the old shortcut Ctrl+F11 now takes you to HTML Styles, which used to be Ctrl+F7. This may confuse existing users at first, but the new interface does make a lot more sense and is an improvement once you become used to it.

The Design window can now be used either to show the page layout, the associated HTML code or a combination of the two in a split window. Changing the code directly or the layout visually is reflected in the other window, giving round-trip editing. The new integrated code editor provides automatic indenting, optional line numbers and colour syntax coding for ease of use, as well as bracket matching. The editor can be used for non-HTML code, like JavaScript or XML. You can also debug client-side JavaScript code and view the results in your browser to give an accurate impression of how the code will actually play. You can set breakpoints and inspect variables at breakpoints or while the script is running, and either execute or step into functions.

Other improvements include the ability to generate Flash text and buttons directly in Dreamweaver, and much-improved integration with Fireworks, version 4 of which is included in the £349 (ex. VAT) Studio version.

Dreamweaver comes with a comprehensive 600-page printed manual and three O'Reilly reference books -- on HTML, CSS and JavaScript -- in electronic form. Usefully, these books are linked to the code window, so they can be used to explain a currently highlighted word or term.

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It must be said that Dreamweaver is not the easiest program to get to grips with, and newcomers will find the plethora of dialog boxes and tabbed palettes somewhat intimidating. However, any professional tool with a high level of power and versatility is going to require some effort on the user's part. The only other caveat is that unless you use a fairly high screen resolution -- at least 1,280 by 1,024 pixels -- the numerous dialog boxes will make everything look very cluttered.

Dreamweaver 4 may not be enough to coax the hand-coding hardcore into a WYSIWYG environment, but they'd be well advised to give it a try. For the rest of us, the best available visual Web design tool just keeps getting better.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Localization English
Category creativity application
Subcategory creativity - web design / publishing
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Version 4.0
Software
Subcategory creativity - web design / publishing
Category creativity application
License Type box pack
Min Supported Color Depth 8-bit (256 colors)
Version 4.0
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 32 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 110 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 SP5
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-ROM
Min Processor Speed 166 MHz
Min Processor Type Intel Pentium
Header
Brand Macromedia
Product Line Dreamweaver
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC

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