Product Type: Macromedia webdesign software
Newest Review: ... one and the rest of the site can be created in seconds, leaving you to simply change the content. Macromedia are very practised at creati... more
Nothing to do with Hendrix!
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev
Member Name: Andrew1911
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev
Date: 20/08/01, updated on 20/08/01 (161 review reads)
Advantages: Much better than FrontPage, Very easy to get into, Polished design
Those of you who may have read my ColdFusion review will know that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Microsoft. They seem to have the knack of making products that people will accept (usually because they’re so widely distributed) even though there’s better stuff available. This opinion is about one competitor to a Microsoft product in the area of web design tools – Macromedia Dreamwever.
I’ll hold up my hands right out of the gate and admit that most people will be more than happy to use a tool that comes bundled with their computers cos it’s free. DreamWeaver you’ll have to buy (unless you can thieve a copy from work) but I’ll do my best to convince you to convert.
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev is the main competitor to FrontPage. MDU is a web page design tool that not only allows the user to build very polished looking sites and to organise and maintain them effectively, but allows the user to include ASP, ColdFusion or JSP functionality to a basic HTML page – it’s worth noting, however, that there is a simple web design only version of DreamWeaver for more basic web site design.
Upon installation, MDU will guide through the creation of the local and remote copies of your site (very handy if you’re developing over a network) and will also prompt you to choose which of the server-side languages will be used – ASP, JSP or ColdFusion. This in turn has the effect of altering the design environment to support the chosen languages. Creating server behaviours and database connection is also far less daunting than in other programs. With a very nice graphical representation of the folders of remote and local computers, UltraDev’s intelligently designed connection screens make linking to a remoter database a far less daunting task than it would be if done via hand coding.
NOTE : a word of warning though – you MUST make sure that you local copy
of Personal Web Server or IIS is up to scratch though. These are the programs that your computer uses to control how it connects to other computers and databases over the network. It can save a lot of frustration.
Site administration is done using a very nicely designed tool that is very easy to use. Uploading and refreshing sites is extremely easy, as is integration with the developers God-send, SourceSafe.
Actually creating the sites is a joy. Forget coding HTML by hand – you’ll wonder how you stuck it out for so long. Complex pages, with forms embedded in tables, applets inserted with ease, SQL queries and data connections can all be set up through a series of wizards or if you prefer by dragging and dropping from a very comprehensive tool list. The drudgery of coding in HTML is removed as repetive or the more complex of tasks are reduced to a key press or mouse drag. It’s also easy to create a page as a template – create one and the rest of the site can be created in seconds, leaving you to simply change the content.
Macromedia are very practised at creating a development environment that is very powerful and easy to work with. If you’ve used any of the the other members in the Macromedia suite you’ll be right at home. All objects created in Fireworks or Flash (the graphics and web animation packages) are importable, and displayed exactly as the would appear in the source application. The design tools and windows are all extremely powerful too - windows exist for the designer rapidly check out tag rerences from the embedded O’Reilly reference tool that comes bundled with package, as well as managing CSS’s and site assets like icons and buttons. You’ll never need to remember the location of all the funky images you’ve created either, MDU creates Libraries of such things as they’re used. Youc an even create Flash buttons and text from within the application with no need
to load Flash as a separate program.
For example, creating and maintaining a table in HTML can be one of the most frustrating tasks, especially if someone hasn’t taken the time to indent them properly. Thankfully DreamWeaver allows tables to be drawn, much like in Word and the cell sizes, formatting and even the data ordering and sorting can be controlled graphically.
If you must code by hand though, don’t despair. One of the best things about UltraDev is the Environment view. Traditionalists can view the native code and amend as necessay, or the design view can be used to see the site as it would appear within a browser. Or, for the best of both worlds, the view van be split half and half, so you can see one view change as you alter the other. The real winner thought, is the live data view. Assuming the site is to be connected to a database of sometime, the user can watch changes being made to the operation of the site affecting the data in real time. This is an exceptionally powerful means of design, as it allows the designer to identify and correct errors relating to the data-sourced components of the page before they occur.
The tools provided allow the user to rapidly develop very polished solutions. Server-side includes, live objects and form objects can all be added, edited and removed in a professional and beautifully presented user interface. Couple that with the products integration with ColdFusion and you have a tool that really is top class.