Dreamweaver MX 2004
Little things mean a lot. That's what my dad always used to say, and it holds true in this newest version of
Dreamweaver MX. While there are no "giant leaps for mankind" with this release, the average web
developer will certainly appreciate the design tweaks and improvements they have provided in 2004.
The overall look is similar to Dreamweaver MX, with a few minor changes, namely the toolbars across the top.
Your views and personal layout can still be tailored to what you're used to, so it really depends on you.
Personally, I liked the old "insert" toolbar with the tabs across the top, as I'm more of an
"at-a-glance" person. In MX 2004, when they reshuffled the objects to be inserted, it took me a
minute to find a few things. For example, the "insert characters" function is now listed
under the "HTML" section, instead of being on it's own tab (or even under the "common"
section like in the old days). But I'm usually pretty quick on the uptake and this was not a huge issue for me.
They have added a "Favorites" section of the "insert" toolbar, which I found most
helpful, as it allows you to put your commonly used buttons all together in one spot, and keeps you
from toggling back and forth to find what you're looking for. This more than made up for them moving
the "characters" section on me.
One difference is the addition of a start-up screen to give you quick reference to recently opened
files, a list of new files you can create, or available sample documents already created for you to modify
as you see fit. Some people might find this helpful, but I tend to be more of a traditionalist and access
my recently used files with the good old-fashioned toolbar. Luckily, I was given the option to promptly
turn this feature off.
As a PHP developer, if you're worried about Dreamweaver MX 2004 putting you out of business because people
can create dynamic websites themselves, you can sleep well tonight. They really haven't improved much on
the PHP front as far as the layperson goes. You can still enter a little bit of common PHP code with the
push of a button, and get some code hints with Ctrl-Space, but it is far from being a substitute for the
experienced PHP/MySQL developer.
For those newbies out there who are taking pre-written scripts and attempting to modify them to fit their
own needs, Macromedia has added a PHP reference section to their list, courtesy of the good folks at O'Reilly.
If you recall, Dreamweaver MX had some built-in references, but PHP was unfortunately yet again the last
little guy picked for kickball, and was omitted. With this feature, you can highlight a function in your
code, right-click, and scroll down to "reference". You are then shown a brief description of what the
function is meant to do. A list of functions is also provided for your reference should you want to
look up another specific function that isn't in your code. Now, if we can only get the newbs to look
They have added a few common tasks to the server behaviors for PHP, specifically building master-detail
pages and user authentication. Yet again, these will hardly replace the expert's knowledge, and I can
imagine how difficult it would be to set these up correctly having no knowledge of PHP or MySQL. I honestly
don't know if I would use these shortcuts in real life, because I prefer to have more control over my code,
but it may be helpful to some PHP coders out there.