Product Type: Macromedia webdesign software
Newest Review: ... day once you start to use it regularly. There can be no doubting the power of Dreamweaver 4 and I can proudly say that I had a web site u... more
A web designer's wet dream
Macromedia Dreamweaver 4
Member Name: sandrabarber
Macromedia Dreamweaver 4
Date: 16/10/01, updated on 16/10/01 (300 review reads)
Advantages: Very easy interface, Hugely customisable, Perfect for people crossing over from DTP
Disadvantages: Expensive, Has its quirks
I started my web design career using Front Page and produced lots of boring 'boxy' looking sites thinking they were fine. I then moved onto Hot Metal Pro, which was an improvement, but nothing prepared me for the way Dreamweaver 4 would change my working day.
First, the interface. The great thing with D4 is that the interface is totally customisable. You choose what palettes you want to display (Objects, Properties, Layers, Frames etc. etc.) when you want to display them. So if you're doing a simple text page with maybe an image or two, you'd just have your properties box and maybe your objects palette on display. If you were playing around with layers, however, then you can have your layers palette up instead and maybe your behaviours too if you want do combine the two for some really funky functions.
Back to those layers. They are just the best thing ever, enabling you to design just as you would on a DTP application like Quark. Then adding show-hide layer behaviours means that you can have a multitude of pages within a page, with you dictating just what is hidden and what is revealed when someone moves their cursor over certain objects.
The commands are excellent too, letting you clean up your html in a jiffy, remove html tags from documents you've pasted in from Front Page or Word, and do site-wide reports that will pick up a whole host of potential problems for you.
I use Dreamweaver combined with Fireworks, and the two compliment each other well, though I prefer to do my images first time around in Adobe. I then use Fireworks to add behaviours and dynamic functions, and vitally to slice large images and export them to Dreamweaver as html for faster downloading (Adobe Image Re
ady can do this but not so efficiently I find).
Publishing with Dreamweaver 4 is a doddle too. Just define your site, set your local and remote details and away you go with a simple click on 'synchronise' or 'put'. Publishing is very fast and, unlike with Front Page, for instance, you can see the whole process as it is happening like you can with a stand-alone FTP client.
Learning to use Dreamweaver: I taught myself with the CD tutorial and the manual, and then went on an advanced course with a Macromedia certified trainer to really get to grips with html3 capabilities. If you're totally new to web design and you start with D4, you'd probably be best off with a Dummies book or a Sams Teach Yourself.
Dreamweaver 4 combined with Fireworks costs around £350 (PC version, Mac slightly cheaper), or you can get D4 on its own for about £230 (again, Mac version a bit cheaper). Expensive compared to Front Page and Hot Metal, but worth every single penny if you're going to use it a lot.
And once you've got it, you can register with Macromedia and download literally hundreds of add-ons for free, some of which are superb (and, alas, some of which are a total waste of time, but it's trial and error here).
D4 isn't perfect. It has its glitches and quirks, but Macromedia are working ont hem and you can download patches from their site.
Overall, I love this programme and wouldn't go back to anything else. I've only given a tiny taster of what D4 can do (I haven't even mentioned timelines). Do yourself a favour and download the trial version from macromedia.com NOW.
NB. Although it's not perfect, I don't expect any software to be perfect, hence the 5 star rating.