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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

  Macromedia Studio MX 2004 (Part 2) - Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver MX 2004 is the professional choice for building websites and applications. It provides a powerful combination of visual layout tools, application development features, abd code editing support, enabling developers and designers at every skill level to create visually appealing, standards based sites and applications quickly. From leading support for CSS-based design to hand coding features, Dreamweaver provides the tools professionals need in an integrated and streamlined enviroment. Developers can use Dreamweaver with the server technology of their choice to build powerful Internet applications that connectusers to databases, web services and legacy systems.

Dreamweaver was first introduced in 1997 and I have been fortunate enough to be able to try out each and every version since its inception. I have witnessed this product grow from a 'New Kid on the Block' status to the world's leading web development tool that is currently relied on by over 3.2 Million web designers world-wide.

Let us take this oppportunity to look at whats new in the most recent version! Some of the more recent enhancements include more modern design tools, powerful and open integration as well a new streamlined user experience.

One of the biggest of the new features in my eyes is the CSS Support. I think this is the biggest and most noticable improvement over the last version. The cross browser validation feature is very slick. Simply set your site for a target browser/s and on save Dreamweaver will make sure that no unsupported tags are being used.

The new CSS Rule Inspector makes creating and editing CSS Rules a breeze. All you have to do is select an instance within your Dreamweaver document and the inspector gives you all the options that can be applied to that instance. Through the inspector you can edit any of the CSS Rules and see thechanges instantly within the design view in Dreamweaver. The improved CSS Panel allows you to browse and jump to any style that has been applied and shows where the styles are applied.

Another awesome tool that has been added is the Integrated Image Editing Toolbar. This allows you to use simple Fireworks tools to edit images in your document without leaving the Dreamweaver enviroment.

The enhanced integration between Macromedia MX products is a dandy. Its very slick. Many of the properties and libraries in a project can be carried over in to the various applications for ease of use and is also a huge timesaver.

Another great addition is the way it copies Microsoft Word and Excel documents directly to Dreamweaver while maintaining all fonts, colors and CSS styles. I have tried this on several occasions and it does work great leaving very little to no editing after the fact.

Something new is the HTML Elements. These are simple time saving bits of HTML code that allows the user to quickly build menu bars and other common tasks. The elements have the capability of being edited and customized using CSS and Dream templates.

One of the new FTP features is the Secure FTP support. While this feature does work, we did experience problems connecting to secure servers. Checking the newsgroups this appears to be a common problem that we certainly hope that Macromedia will take a look into.

New to the behaviors and extensions is support for PHP extensions. Most common behaviors including User Authentication and Master-Details Page Sets.

As for the User Interface, Macromedia has done an overhaul of the interface for the second version in a row. While the changes aren't as drastic this time around, I find the toolbars a bit more complicated and less user friendly than the previous version. I preferred the tabs for different toolbars as opposed to the drop down menu that the interface now has. I find that without the toolbar menu options readily available, you find yourself trying to remember where tools are and if they are even available.

An optional Start Page is now available for when there is no document open. This start page gives you quick access to recently edited files, help and tutorial files. The Start Page was also kind of hard for me to get used to for some reason.

Macromedia once again raises the bar when it comes to web Authouring tools and suites. The biggest question is 'How high can the bar get?'.

With each and every version, I ask myself what they could possibly add in another version. Macromedia seems to think of things to ad all the time and do a good job in doing so. One thing I'd like to see added is more stock PhP behaiviors and extensions for common tasks similiar to the ASP behaiviors and Extensions. I am sure those will come as the support for pHp increases.

Review ID Number: 300
  Product Details
Review Date: 2004-01-20
Rating: 10 out of 10
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