Macromedia Dreamweaver has a well-deserved reputation for being a capable Web design package, and contains support for both graphical design and direct coding of HTML. It also has some site management features and integration with sister packages Flash and Fireworks for Web graphics work.
Version 4 brings some welcome enhancements including some relief from the tiresome job of table-based Web page layout, as well as the ability to add Flash buttons and Flash text directly in Dreamweaver. This provides greater scope for creating visually appealing pages with Dreamweaver alone.
The new table editing features complement those from version 3 and so there are now two ways of working with tables, which means that designers can get to grips with the new version without extra training. The new features allow for direct drawing of table cells on a page in a ‘layout mode’, giving greater freedom of design without painstaking coding. Once a table cell is drawn on a page, guides are automatically created which facilitate accurate positioning of extra cells.
A small library of quite generic Flash buttons is provided, giving users a quick way to create a polished finish. A few extra styles can be downloaded from Macromedia, or users can generate their own Flash button styles if they have Macromedia Flash 5.
We found Dreamweaver 4 to be stable and subtly improved in several areas, such as palette docking to reduce screen clutter. However, we found that we still needed to use a separate FTP program to upload site files, as Dreamweaver couldn’t cope with our ISP. This closed the door to many of Dreamweaver’s site management and synchronisation features, which was a shame, although for larger, in-house developments this won’t be a problem.
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