Platform: Mac and Windows
Verdict: Clean HTML code, flexible collaboration options,
and Cascading Style Sheets are a winning combination.
1.0 broke new ground among visual Web-authoring tools by offering
HTML that can travel cleanly across platforms and among multiple
members of your Web site development team. With version
1.2, Macromedia has enhanced this powerful tool with such goodies
to 3.0 Browser Compatibility command. For designers, this last new
feature is the most important because it makes Dreamweaver significantly
more effective as a layout tool that reaches the greatest number
professional situations, it's not uncommon to share Web-bound files
between team members. I ran into trouble sharing files generated
by NetObjects Fusion, which added non-standard code that gave my
database programmers headaches. I've also used GoLive CyberStudio.
There's a lot to like about the program, but its Publish command
(which you use before sending pages to the Web) can change links
and file names and alter HTML code. And because the newest release,
CyberStudio 3, runs only under Macintosh System 8, you can't collaborate
within CyberStudio with anyone who works on Windows or an older
Mac OS. Dreamweaver 1.2 has none of these problems.
advanced features in the first Dreamweaver release Dynamic HTML
were seductive. Cascading Style Sheets enable pixel-level element
control and much better type manipulation, including line height
and font weight. These advanced features help you lay out a page
with precision, but because most require a 4.x browser, I hesitated
to use them. Now with version 1.2's Convert to 3.0 Browser Compatibility
4.0 flavor without barring the door to 3.0 users. When you're done
with a page, simply convert it to a 3.0-compatible table with a
single command. There are a few 4.0 features, such as layering,
that you can't duplicate for 3.0 browsers, but the convert command
behavior, an easy addition via a drop-down option in the Behaviors
menu, enables your Web page to detect which version of which browser
is accessing your site and deliver the appropriate page.
1.2 also beefed up its already-strong integration with other tools.
As in version 1, the Windows version ships with Allaire's HomeSite;
the Mac version includes BBEdit. In version1.2, Mac users join Windows
users in the ability to link directly to any other text editor and
make changes that are reflected immediately in Dreamweaver's WYSIWYG
view. Also new with 1.2 are live links with image editors. The default
is Macromedia's own excellent image-editing application, Fireworks,
but you can link to any image editor and save yourself the hassle
of reloading edited work.
you like to work directly in HTML, you'll appreciate Dreamweaver
1.2's ability to color your code so it's easy to differentiate tag
categories and their contents at a glance. Dreamweaver's support
completely extensible, so programmers can create custom behaviors.
If you're not up for programming, there's already a good assortment
of built-in behaviors.
built-in FTP window for uploading your site to a server has a "check
out" feature that prevents two users from editing a file simultaneously.
It's a great feature for teams, but I do wish its implementation
were a little more intuitive.
the biggest weakness of Dreamweaver is its site-management. For
example, there's no site diagram, as you'll see in CyberStudio.
However, the site-management feature I value most is the ability
to make global changes. Dreamweaver addresses this problem with
an improved Library function that gets the job done, although it
still takes a little getting used to. Version 1.2 also adds link
checking, which lets you check the entire site for bad links with
of us live in a vacuum. The ability to share documents with people
across the hall or across the world without worrying about platforms
and browser versions is crucial, and Dreamweaver does this better
than any visual Web design tool I've used.