Product Type: Macromedia webdesign software
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UltraDev: A dream or a headache?
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev
Member Name: richardleonard
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev
Date: 05/12/00, updated on 02/09/01 (262 review reads)
Advantages: Good for basic ASP coding
Disadvantages: Hand coding is needed to add more functionality to pages
This is an update to my original op as I have now used UltraDev for over a year and learnt far more about it.
I've used Macromedia products for over 2 years now, and I find that they're the best for creating websites and multimedia products. The most recent addition to my list of skills is Macromedia UltraDev 4, the latest version of their web design software, which now supports database access.
This is probably the simplest part of the process as it's the same as all other Macromedia products. You have to enter your details and serial number as usual and select the options to install. Then it spends a while copying all the bits into the right places and whatever else it needs to do before it's finally ready. This can take a short while to copy over, especially if you install the help and sample files - but they're useful for new users. One point to not here is that to correctly use database connections you will NEED Microsoft DAC2.1 (from the Microsoft website) - otherwise, like me, you'll spend HOURS trying to figure out how to get the program to work correctly - when in fact it won't without this! You have been warned!
It would also be a good to mention at this point that if you are going to use databases, you'll need to install a web-server on your machine (e.g. Personal Web Server). Dynamic pages (such as ASP) require a server to translate the page before it's shown correctly in a web browser. PWS can be found on the Windows CD-ROM in the addons(?) folder.
As with all other versions of Dreamweaver this is similar to Windows Explorer and this is where you create folders and files for your whole site. Using the "Define Sites" menu you can simply switch between sites which is great if you're like me.
Dragging files around between folders prompt
s the user to change links within the moved pages, this is great as it's so easy to keep your hyperlinks and images working - mind oyu, it's always a good idea to try to put things in the right place to start - but if you're updating an existing site this is a great feature.
You can view your site either as a standard FTP style interface (with both local and remote locations) or as a navigation diagram. Personally I prefer the file view as it's less confusing and fits on the screen better. Also, if you wish you can FTP straight from this view which makes the whole program more of a complete package.
Another common feature is "Find & Replace" - however, this is taken one step further and lets you replace items over the whole site! You can match even select if it matches the page text or the source HTML. Great for changing phone numbers or e-mail addresses over a corporate site (as I once had to do!)
Again this is almost the same as previous versions. The floating toolbar allows you to add common HTML elements, forms, frames etc with ease. One button switches between WYSIWYG mode and HTML view - so if you prefer you can edit manually - something I tend to do every now and again - especially when writing scripts. Talking of scripts - the behaviour window allows you to add pre-written scripts to various parts of a page, for example, a hyperlink could open a new page in a popup window. These scripts can be used based on the target browser (i.e. Netscape or IE) which is a professional touch.
The "Assets" window shows you all items used across the site - so you can simply drag and drop common elements as required.
Cascading Style Sheets can be created in either the current document of in a separate file for sharing across the site. Styles can be easily created or edited. Also, if you don't wish to use CSS on your site there are HTML styles inst
ead. These are similar, but actually re-write the HTML so that the page is compatible with all browsers (and not version 4+).
This is the advanced section. Firstly to get UltraDev to connect to a database you need to define a connection. Clicking on a button brings up a popup window prompting you for the necessary information. I won't go into detail here what to type because there are loads of step-by-step guides on the Internet - and it's not part of this op - but other than that, this makes the whole process very easy. A test button gives you an indication if it worked or not.
Once a connection is active, you can use this to search through a database by adding a query. In the standard view you can filter data based on one set of criteria - such as a variable containing an e-mail address. In the advanced view you can add more criteria to create the required SQL query to produce the required results. This is a little tricky at first but does get easier one "it clicks".
For writing into a database UltraDev allows you easily take data from a form and insert or update records. This is the fastest method of doing this, although it does write far too many lines of code to do it efficiently. Deleting records is also simply a couple of clicks away.
Since I've used UltraDev for quite a while now I feel that it's great for beginners to learn ASP (or JSP or CFM) - as I did. Other than the cost (i.e. it's too expensive for most people) I'd still prefer to develop pages by hand coding. It's far easier to create an efficient code by hand - added to that, you have the flexibility to create a page to do exactly what YOU want - and not what UltraDev wants. It's a great program and I'd certainly recommend you at least try the 30-day trial, but after that you're probably best sticking to the standard version of Dreamweaver
4 combined with good old notepad!