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Dreamweaver MX 2004 - Page 2

by: Elizabeth Naramore
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August 24, 2003

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.
CSS Improvements
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.
Table Layout
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:
picture of Table Layout
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.
Image Editor
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 like myself.
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.

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