Dreamweaver and web standards

After the discussion on Hand coding that some of you may have read I’ve been using an evaluation copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver to give it an honest chance of impressing me. I still have a couple of weeks left of my evaluation period, so I’m not going to write a review just yet.

What I am going to do is make all Dreamweaver users (and there seem to be a lot of you) aware of a new book by Rachel Andrew: Build Your Own Standards Compliant Website Using Dreamweaver 8.

The book explains web standards, semantics, and accessibility, and how to make sure sites built with Dreamweaver are standards compliant and accessible. Very timely, since in the discussion on hand coding vs. WYSIWYG I complained a bit about people using Dreamweaver and other similar tools to build websites without actually knowing much about what is going on beneath the surface. Well, this book was written to change that.

Go check out the sample chapters if you use Dreamweaver. Come to think of it, even if you don’t use Dreamweaver, this book will probably be useful.

Posted on October 4, 2005 in Accessibility, Quicklinks, Web Standards


  1. I am not sure Dreamweaver 8 will impress you but it shouldn’t disgust you. The code view environment is no where near bbedit/textwrangler or textmate or insertfaveditor but it does create decent code. Dreamweaver is a good transition tool from Graphic design to coding and it keeps getting better.

  2. Dreamweaver 8 has certainly made significant improvements over its predecessors, particularly with its hand coding tools and CSS support. There are still a number of quirks that I’d like to see fixed in the future and, indeed, I’m planning to write my own review in the next week or two, but overall it is a very good editor.

  3. I am a long time user of dreamweaver, and yes I write my stuff in code view only. Still working with 04 and writing only CSS for presentation the design view is completely useless.

    However I am wondering what bbedit/textwrangler/textmate have over dreamweaver? I find it’s code completion and helpers much more robust than anything else I have tried to use. Especially for the combination of xhtml/javascript/php/css. What features of the other editors out there make dreamweaver ‘no where near’ the other?

    I want to make clear that I am not trying to troll here, it’s a genuine question. I would love to drop dreamweaver as it comes with a significant price tag, but I honestly have found it works better for me. In the end I don’t care what platform and editor I am on whatever makes me most productive.

  4. Looking forward to hearing your opinion on Dreamweaver 8. I’ve been using Dreamweaver MX 2004 for a long time now and, in my opinion, it can’t be matched by any of the other available alternatives (with the possible exception of Homesite).

    For me it’s in the details. Dreamweaver’s text editing capabilities might not be much different from other editors, but something like the project management in Dreamweaver makes me put it above everything else.

  5. I’m with Wesley — and that’s the only reason I havent’ switched over to a full on text editor. I like having the completion. It makes me INCREDIBLY faster, as it’s sort of a secondary shortcut. “text-a[TAB][DOWN ARROW][TAB];” can become a lot faster than “text-align:center;”, and once you have 20 or 30 shortcuts like that your production really increases.

    I know some text editor’s have auto-close tag options, but I don’t know of any that gives me options of available CSS. I’d love to change to something smaller and faster though.

    Any ideas?

  6. To be clear, I was DW 8 full time. The management of my sites and templates are great. The new CSS features are nice and the coding improvements are great.

    But… with PHP I find it lacking and cumbersome. Just for the quick and dirty PHP it gets in the way. It could be just that textwrangler lets me work on the live (on development box) version and I find that hugely helpful right now. Only way I can achieve that with DW is make my local machine the dev box. No big deal I guess.

    I have been using DW 8 for months though and can say once you start, MX 2004 is dead to you ;)

  7. October 5, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Wesley: Two words: speed and stability. Dreamweaver does have several really useful features, but it is both slow and unstable compared to BBEdit.

  8. I’m a longtime user of DW, right now I’ve got MX 2004. It’s a fantastic piece of software, but there is a lot about it I don’t like. Bloat, price, PHP-handling etc. it falls short of other editors. However, the code completion is bang-on.

    I recently started using Topstyle Pro 3, which is now my new favorite. It’s got everything I want, without the bloat, cheaper price, integrated CSS/PHP/XHTML editor, mappings, excellent editor, good preview options, tight integration with tidy and w3c validators etc. It’s a good piece of software.

    I still use DW alot though, at work it’s the primary software they use.

  9. Just read Roger’s comment and I think that speed is really the key. Your workflow has a number of extra steps and those steps are a delayed either by the application or the server… it all adds up if you are doing last minute tweaks or are just ADD with stuff.

    DW 8 is faster that MX 2004, its more stable, its a bit more interactive, but even on my dual g5 it feels sluggish (thankfully it about the same on my G4 1.25 PB)…

    It is great when supporting users though, especially with Contribute.

  10. October 6, 2005 by Martin Smales

    Now that you mentioned Contribute. It is only as good if used with Dreamweaver especially Dreamweaver templates (*.dwt).

    Personally, I don’t like having code that are dependent on vendor.

  11. Which code would that be? The templates use a pretty simple comment based system that is awfully easy to duplicate, just poorly documented.

    You just gave me an idea…

  12. I’ve had this debate many times, and to be honest, I think to each his own, but allow me to defend why I think that DW is superior to SOLELY handcoding.

    I built my site, http://alterform.com using Dreamweaver. Now, say what you will about my semantics or accessibility, it’s an art portfolio site, with a very targeted audience, and it is standards compliant.

    Now, I would say I probably hand code MOST of my sites. I constantly work in split mode, and almost never use the menus to apply settings.

    I personally like being able to view my site, with the CSS applied, and get a rough idea of how it’s going to look. I am predominantly graphics, and a very visual guy, hence why I like view the end result while Im doing it.

    DW’s code completion features are great, as well as it’s tag editing (want to wrap a selection with a p tag? In code view, CTRL+T, start typing the tag with all of it’s attributes, hit enter, and voila, automatically wrapped).

    It’s PHP highlighting and code hints are great, it’s FTP support is wonderful, design time stylesheets is amazing, etc etc. I could go on about all of it’s shortcuts, features, etc, but there is a lot about it that becomes second nature. For instance, if you want to a part of the document in code view, while you’re in design view click on the element, and it’s highlighted in code view. Little things like that make it a godsend.

    I can see and watch both sides of the process. I can see what code I am making, what visuals my code is making (though not real time).

    My only complaint, is that for me, DW 8 has been the slowest of all the releases. Opening a file takes FOREVER. The whole application is more sluggish that other versions, and perhaps it’s a PC issue, but I’ve tried it on two different computers, one of them brand new.

    But WYSIWYG isnt bad. What’s bad is being clueless.

  13. I’m just curious if the minor changes to the code editing in DM8 is driving anyone else batty (& if anyone knows of a way to put it back to how it was..)

    Say the caret is on the first char of a line. If you arrow up / down and it jumps to the first tab (instead of going up/down one line & staying on the first char of the line) if the code is indented. If you want to quickly select the current line and the one below it, say to change the indentation or just delete ‘em, I’d normally do shift-down-down, and tab or delete. DM8 goes down, and then jumps over to the first tab if the code is indented, so I have to remember to shift-down-down-left. Why?

    This is the single most common thing I do while coding and now something so simple is driving me crazy. I code by hand in dreamweaver, and use the project management. That’s it. And now that they (for no reason) changed the behavior of the text editor, I hate it. It’s totally unintuitive and unlike any other OSX app. I can’t find any other complaints about this on the web, or a way to turn it off in preferences (just a lot of people talking up the Zoom in Design view and new CSS support and Tabs and FTP).

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