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Ron Ridley Auto Care Mall

  Dreamweaver 2
Installation: The install is nice and clean. It's all on one CD for both the PC and the MAC and is also shipped with Version 4 of both Netscape and Internet Explorer. On the CD you also get the popular text based HTML Editor, Homesite, from Allaire. Homesite has also been upgraded to the latest version.

User Interface : The general mainframe of the user interface hasn't changed a whole lot over version 1.2, reviewed earlier. In this review, I will go into the many of new features, and I might that they are definite improvements.
In the last review of version 1.2, my biggest beef was the way it handled tables. Macromedia has listened to it's audience and definitely improved it's way of handling tables. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, Dreamweaver 2 now has the best table editing interface available in an Editor.

Dealing with large multi-column tables has never been easy. Many times as a web designer, I have run into the occasion that a large table had to be resorted in a different order, only to see myself start all over with the table. This is no longer a problem in Dreamweaver. The new 'Commands' option in the tool bar has some great features that ever web designer will flip over. First one being the sort table command. This allows you to resort your table with the click of a mouse, much the same way you would with any spreadsheet application. Also in the commands option is the 'Format table' feature. Excellent! One of the best ways to have your tables neatly organized and looking good is to have every second row a different color background. This can cause problems on large tables if you have to add a row in the middle of the table. The new format table command gets rid of this problem. It allows you to completely customize your table properties and look.

New in the page layout is the 'Trace Image' feature. I am sure that many web designers have faced the problem of taking a graphic artist's drawing of what the page is suppose to look like and then try to re-create it with complicated tables and hours of aligning and realigning. The new trace Image feature allows you to set that image in the background of your working document (with a configurable transparency setting) and using layers you can simply place the artist individual graphics and text cells exactly where the artist had visioned them.

Also Dreamweaver now enables the designer to make use of completely configurable rulers and grids, much the same way your favorite graphic programs work. I find this very handy for doing complex layout using layers. You also have the option of setting Dreamweaver to prevent overlapping layers, enabling you to flawlessly convert the layers to a table for Browser 3 compatibility.

The new Web Safe Eyedropper is the most innovative way of selecting color attributes I have ever seen. Selecting and matching a color for your text or other object can be difficult. The new Eye-dropper now allows you to select a color from anywhere on your computer desktop and automatically converts it to the nearest websafe setting. (Notice the colors of the headings in this review match the color of the the Dreamweaver 2 box cover scan in the above picture)

There are times when you simply have to get into the coding to tweak your site that extra little bit. The seamless interaction between Dreamweaver and Homesite allows you to work on both programs at the same time without having to save the document before changing programs. For example, you have a document open in Dreamweaver and you need to get into the coding and make some changes, (note, you can also access the coding right from Dreamweaver also) the document can be opened in Homesite and changed. The changes will automatically show up in your Dreamweaver Document window. Working back and forth between the best WYSIWYG editor and one of the best text editors provides a very valuable combination.

The ability to create templates has been added to Dreamweaver as well. Although Dreamweaver doesn't come with pre-made templates, this new feature serves the purpose of keeping all of your pages looking the same with it's content and styles that appears on all pages. To change the look of an entire site, you simply need to change one document - the template.

In any Graphic HTML Editor, you always had to go into the coding and insert such things as Meta tags and descriptions by hand. This can now be done right through Dreamweavers document editor.

Dreamweaver has also made great improvements to it's Site Management design. This was a problem I had found in previous versions. With it's new 'Site Map' view, Dreamweaver allows you to interact with it's navigational view for quick and accurate design and reorganization. Dreamweaver now allows for renaming of files and links and makes the changes site-wide and updates all links. The Dreamweaver Site Management Interface now has full FTP capability as well and can be launched from Dreamweaver or individually.

Macromedia has also added two new site-wide 'Search and Replace' features. You can make site wide changes to text with it's Global Search and Replace and even make coding changes site-wide with it's innovative HTML-aware Search and Replace. This new feature allows you to make site-wide changes to your site, such as background colors on all pages for example.

Another problem with some editors is the fact that it rearranges your coding. Dreamweaver leaves all coding alone, that is unless you want it to. Macromedia has added a 'Clean up HTML' feature as well. This gives the user a quick way to remove all the unwanted and extra tags.

I am quickly running out of room here and there is so much more to rave about in this excellent tool, but there is one more great feature that has to be mentioned. That is the ability to view what your page will look like at different monitor sizes. Constrain your editing window to a selected screen size to avoid those nasty sideways scroll bars and off screen content.

I was only able to touch on the many new features of Dreamweaver here, but I can assure you that even if you have an earlier version of Dreamweaver - upgrade, buy it or whatever you need to do. Dreamweaver 2 is worth it!

Cost Value: At about $300.00 US street value, Dreamweaver makes your site look like a Million Bucks! Once again though, I must caution as in the review of version 1.2, Dreamweaver is designed with the 'professional' in mind. The capabilities of Dreamweaver are endless, but you should still have some knowledge of HTML and DHTML to unlock the full potential of Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver 2 also now ships with Macromedia's great web graphic editing tool, Fireworks. The combination of Dreamweaver, Homesite and Fireworks makes for a great set of tools to get any web project, not only looking great, but efficient as well.

Manual: We didn't receive a manual with our evaluation copy this time around. But in my experiences with all the latest Macromedia products, the manuals are enough to get you started, but you will want to look for one of the many great reference books available in stores.

Overall Comments: "Dreamweaver is definitely the editor of the future" - from my earlier review of version 1.2

The future is now! Dreamweaver is simply the best Web Design tool for professionals.

Review ID Number: 367
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-19
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 10 out of 10
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