Dreamweaver MX 2004
Tools for the General Developer
I know that many of us use Dreamweaver for web layout issues, while we prefer to code our PHP by
hand, and thankfully there are some tools that have been added that make our lives a whole lot easier.
Automatic Cross-Browser Checks
With this release of Dreamweaver MX, those of us who tend to tailor our pages to the IE community will get an
eye-opening look at the potential errors seen by the rest of the world. Although you can turn this feature off,
the automatic browser check runs a quick check for W3C standards compatibility and provides a button on the
toolbar with a link to any errors that came up. This check is far from being intrusive and you do not need to
have any other browser installed on your machine. I personally found this quite helpful, especially since I am
dragging myself kicking and screaming into the murky bog of CSS and W3C standards.
Since we're on the subject of CSS, it was obvious to me that CSS is the new buzzword over there at Macromedia.
They have added several features such as visualizing the CSS in the layout, CSS code hints with Ctrl-Space keys,
CSS page-wide properties box, and the ability to see all the styles available to you in any view. If you're a
newcomer to CSS, or an old-school CSSer, you will most likely appreciate these updates.
In the "design" mode, you are now able to visualize the size of the tables at a glance (which I loved!).
And example is in the following screenshot:
Not only can you see the pixel count (or percentage) of your tables, you can easily select the entire column
(or insert a new column) by clicking on that number. No more positioning your cursor precariously over the table,
just hoping that you're selecting the right thing. This, to me, was an example of a little thing that meant a lot.
Another thing I particularly found useful was the image editor that has been included in the main
Dreamweaver MX 2004 software. If you need to accomplish a simple thing, such as cropping an image, sharpening
an image, or changing the brightness/contrast levels, you can now do these things directly in Dreamweaver
without having to switch over to a graphics editor. I would really like to see the Macromedia folks
incorporate more Fireworks functionality into Dreamweaver.
Improved text editing
While this wasn't the thing I was most impressed with, I did find this somewhat helpful. They have
added the ability to format a block of code by selecting it and right-clicking, and then either
indenting/outdenting, changing it from upper to lower case, and converting to comments. Like I said,
this wasn't the discovery of electricity, but it was somewhat helpful to a sometimes "broken-source" coder
Macromedia Contribute Compatibility
Macromedia offers a CMS-type software that enables your clients (or other members of your web design team)
to make simple changes to a website, and this version of Dreamweaver fits well with that software. Although
others are able to change some content of the site, through Dreamweaver, you as the developer are still able
to maintain control of what they can and cannot change (this is a very good thing.) As well,
Dreamweaver MX 2004 has included a check-in/check-out file management system to prevent two people from trying
to update the same file at the same time. I'm still waiting to find someone to delegate my website updates to,
but when I find him/her I'm sure this will be a much appreciated feature.