Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Review

After a discussion on hand coding that almost got out of hand (ha-ha) I promised that I would give Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 an honest chance to impress me. So, for a month now I have been using an evaluation copy, both at the office and at home.

To sum up my impressions: Dreamweaver 8 is a decent piece of software for web designers and developers. It has several very useful features that can help increase your productivity. But unfortunately it has some flaws and peculiarities that make it unsuitable for the way I work, so using it actually slowed me down a bit. However, if Macromedia (or Adobe) were to fix the flaws I found, I would consider buying Dreamweaver.

Note: I tested the Mac OS X version of Dreamweaver 8. Some of my complaints may be specific to that version.

What I like

  • Code hinting: Once I got used to it, Dreamweaver’s code hinting proved quite useful. The menu does have an annoying way of not showing up when I want it, and getting in the way when I don’t want it, but I can live with that.
  • Auto-closing elements: This is easily Dreamweaver’s most useful and time-saving feature. When you’re working in code view, type </ and Dreamweaver closes the HTML element the cursor is in. Excellent.
  • Manipulating content in design view: One of the benefits that were mentioned by several commenters in the post i mentioned earlier is using Dreamweaver’s design view to edit content instead of marking it up by hand. Yep, there’s plenty of time to save here if you work with content a lot.

What I don’t like

  • Instability: Dreamweaver has crashed several times, making me lose work. And it crashes almost every time I quit it. Very annoying.
  • Sluggishness: Maybe it’s because I’m used to the snappy behaviour of much smaller applications, but I find Dreamweaver slower than it should be, even on my dual CPU G5.
  • Flaky GUI: The whole GUI feels like it’s home-made. Dialog boxes are weird and don’t seem to use the built-in controls in Mac OS X. There are also several GUI elements that have font issues. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but my evaluation license has expired so I can’t launch Dreamweaver to check exactly where I saw the font problems.
  • Odd keyboard shortcuts: Keyboard shortcuts are essential for quickly moving the cursor within the document you are working on – it is not practical to reach for the mouse all the time. Dreamweaver’s slightly non-standard keyboard mapping makes that more difficult than it should be. And some shortcuts that should move the cursor invoke the “Undo” function. Yes, you can redefine the shortcut keys, but why should it be necessary?
  • Named character entities: I haven’t found a way to make Dreamweaver use decimal or hexadecimal character references instead of named entities in XHTML. That is very unfortunate since if you serve XHTML as XML, only five named entities are guaranteed to work.
  • Creating new documents: When I create a new document, I want it to be blank unless I tell my application otherwise. I haven’t found a way to do that in Dreamweaver. Sure, selecting everything and deleting it doesn’t take long, but it’s one more of those little things that shouldn’t be necessary.
  • Weak text manipulation: I often use BBEdit’s advanced text manipulaton functionality. Dreamweaver doesn’t come close. Come on, there’s got to be a function to convert text case in there?
  • Annoying search dialog: When I press Command-F to bring up the search dialog, I want it to go away after I enter something to search for and press enter. Dreamweaver leaves it open, forcing me to manually close it.

Dreamweaver is good but needs refinement

All in all, Dreamweaver 8 is a decent application, but its flaws outweigh its benefits, at least for me. I find it especially hard to deal with the unpolished GUI, the sluggishness, and the instability. So I will not be spending my money on a Dreamweaver license until it improves.

This is just my personal opinion. Dreamweaver may be perfect for you, so if you like it and feel it’s worth the money, by all means buy it. And while you’re at it, get Rachel Andrew’s book Build Your Own Standards Compliant Website Using Dreamweaver 8, which explains web standards, semantics, and accessibility, and how to make sure sites built with Dreamweaver are standards compliant and accessible.

Posted on October 31, 2005 in Web General

Comments

  1. To get the code hinter back in Mac OSX, it should be Cmd+SpaceBar.

    A few of your cons are well made, and I have to agree with some of them (especially the text-case thing…), but as far as the search and replace thing, for me, it’s a 50/50. Many times I want to keep it open so I can continue to use it, in case I wish to do a find all.

    The sluggishness is there for me, but the GUI thing, being that I am on a PC is hard for me to understand. Also, I like it’s internal validation mechanism.

    As for the blank documents, you can edit the file templates (I can look it up if you like, but I cant recall at the moment…)

    Anyways, thanks for an actual fair review. Sounds like you went into it with an open mind :)

  2. I’ve start using jEdit (jedit.org), which has 2 of 3 good features you listed, but 0 bad. Strongly recommend.

  3. In my mind, Dreamweaver still only has one positive thing going for it:

    It comes bundled with Homesite.

    I agree with all of your negatives above, most specifically the sluggishness aspects. As for the positives, granted - code hinting is nice, and it’s something I don’t think Homesite supports.

    As for auto-closing elements, Homesite creates the closing element as soon as you finish opening the tag, which is very useful for setting up indentation and keeping code nice and clean. And well, manipulating content around? Really, that just speaks to the fact that Dreamweaver is something mostly used by brochureware designers - who else has static content in HTML pages?

    I haven’t used Dreamweaver 8, but besides the sluggishness and instability, which was the real deal-killer for me, I recall that it’s extended find-and-replace tools were severely limited compared to Homesite. Has this been fixed?

  4. October 31, 2005 by Paul D

    For me, time spent on web design work is typically divided up 60/40 — 60% making a nice, standards-compliant layout, and 40% putting in hacks to fix all the IE bugs.

    Does Dreamweaver anticipate these fixes and do them automatically? Or will I still have to spend 40% of my time hand-coding the fixes? If the latter, I don’t see much point to Dreamweaver.

  5. October 31, 2005 by Tomas Jogin

    If you’re using Mac OS X, why not use TextMate (www.macromates.com)? I used Dreamweaver before, basically because it was a lot like Homesite which I had used for a very long time. But TextMate just blew the competition away. Try TextMate.

  6. I agree with Dmitry Baranovskiy. jEdit is very good app for hand coding! And I used it for a long time, but now my text editor of choice is vim

  7. October 31, 2005 by Paul D

    Tomas, I use skEdit (www.skti.org). It has most of the features people say they need Dreamweaver for, including integrated SFTP, code hinting, and tag closing.

  8. Authoring tools will never produce semantic, valid, and accessible code, since this requires the user to know of it.

    Concerning the features you like: IntelliJ IDEA, though an Java IDE, provides syntax highlighting, closes elements, too, allows element and attribute auto completion, and even checks if paths are correct. It also offers a lot more features like CVS support, build tools, file commander, tons of more features and plugins. And it feels just great.

    Since 2001, IDEA is my favorite tool, and I can highly recommend it. And if you cannot afford it, use the trial licenses :)

  9. I used Jedit for a long time too, and yes it has tag closing. It also has *nix style copy and paste (select text and then use middle mouse button to paste) which I am missing sorely in other apps.

    However, the main reason I am not using it anymore is because it is also sluggish. I think that’s probably because it’s based on Java.

  10. +1 for skEdit.

    Basically skEdit is Dreamweaver less the bloat and it really feels like an OS X .app.

    Plus: Where (i.e. in which commercial company) do you get support from the developer himself?

  11. I’ll never buy dreamweaver again because I hate Macromedia’s activation/licence policy (I’ve bought/upgraded 3 times before). I recently moved from PC to Mac and they wouldn’t let me “transfer” my licence to my other mac. Ridiculous.

  12. October 31, 2005 by Sascha Ebach

    The single most valuable feature in Dreamweaver is the search and replace mechanism. Sure, you can use some regex enabled search and replace editor, but no program I know comes close to Dreamweaver in that respect. To understand what I mean you really have to explore the search dialog. You can search for specific tags with an attribute value of “x” which is within another element. Try doing that with regexes.

    As for the rest. I agree. Dreamweaver is great for table based layouts, but who does these anymore? ;)

  13. You can convert characters to upper / lower case by selecting the desired text and right clicking (in code view, I don’t use design view) choose selection > convert …

    Regards, Kenny

  14. Thanks for a fair review. I suspect some of your negatives are OSX central (like shortcuts and stability).

    The biggest issue for me has been its sluggishness. It’s been around since DW4 and I’m dissappointed to hear that really hasn’t changed.

    For me, it’s just another tool in the arsenal. There’s not been one definitive editor that can solve all my problems.

  15. I’m with you on the GUI side. It just doesn’t cut it, considering the price. Seeing what small shareware developers manage to do on that side, it is a shame. The general sluginess was the other reason I entirely dropped the app with the previous release (MX2004). One shouldn’t need a Quad G5 to run a webdev application. It seems to be a disease at Macromedia. Fireworks suffers from the same. I still use that one, ‘cause, you know, handcoding a png file is just a little bit more difficult. Hopefully the take over by Adobe will improve on those things.

    Even my partner, who is certainly not a handcoding geek, is now using a text-editor for the little bits of html she need.

  16. The site-wide search and replace function is a really nice feature with Dreamweaver that you don’t get with a lot of other code editors, even though I don’t like to use it, Dreamweaver’s templating system can really help out small-time designers maintain their sites.

    Personally, I use DW like a tricked-out text editor, and I never really make use of a lot of the extra features of the product. Working in Design View is nice if you are just editing content, but DW never displays my XHTML/CSS correctly for some reason.

    When you think about the total package of DW, Fireworks, Flash (evil, but necessary), and Contribute, the whole bundle isn’t too bad, in terms of price.

  17. Good, fair review. I agree with Jonathon. Some of the negatives mentioned are most likely operating system specific. I have used Dreamweaver on and off (sometimes quite heavily) and have never had problems with stability and from a Windows perspective, the GUI seems fine to me. The sluggishness has always been and remains an issue.

    I have found Dreamweaver to be useful in three areas: search & replace, making coding changes to large data tables, templates & libraries.

    It is certainly not the perfect product, but as Dreamweaver has matured (especially on the CSS side) I am becoming a bigger and bigger fan.

  18. October 31, 2005 by Viktor

    What css-editor do you recommend?

  19. When it comes to code-hinting and auto-closing elements, no program I’ve used so far have beaten HomeSite (PC only). You can have auto-closing turned on when you close the start tag so it automatically creates a closing tag, or you can press Ctrl + (.) to create a closing bracket and then just enter the tag name.

    Personally, I really do like TopStyle for editing CSS (PC only too, I’m afraid).

  20. October 31, 2005 by Michael Wilson

    Howdy,

    Instability:

    I run Dreamweaver on Windows XP and I’ve never had a single crash. I can’t speak for all Windows users, but I find version 8 to be the most stable version ever.

    Sluggishness:

    I’ve never felt as though the software was sluggish… this may be because I’ve been using it for so long, but I swear this version seems faster to me. Yes, a plain text editor is even faster, but I’ve come to grips with sacrificing some speed for features. Same thing goes for Photoshop vs MS Paint. Paint’s allot faster, but still…

    Flaky GUI:

    I’ve never noticed any sort of “font issue” in the GUI and because I don’t understand what “flaky” means in terms of usability, I can’t respond further. (not trying to be an arse… just saying.)

    Odd keyboard shortcuts:

    For Windows at least, the keyboard short cuts I normally use are pretty standard. Aside from that, the entire set of keyboard short cuts is reassignable. You can convert to several alternate sets already provided or you can create your own set entirely. And FYI, BBEdit’s short cuts are provided as a standard alternate.

    Named character entities:

    You may be able to edit the template from which Dreamweaver derives these values. One of the best features of Dreamweaver is the developer’s ability to customize and extend the output. This might make a very nice extension.

    Creating new documents:

    Simply edit the default document template for the particular document types you wish. You can start with a completely blank page or with just a doctype… whatever you like. [on Windows - install\path\Configuration\DocumentTypes\NewDocuments]

    Weak text manipulation:

    Wow… I’ve used BBEdit’s text manipulation for a very long time (it’s really nice) but I find Dreamweaver’s is also powerful… you just have to know how to use it.

    For example, if I had a document with a load of font tags that I want to transition to CSS I would find and replace on the following (with use regular expression checked):

    Find: </{0,1}font[^>]*>

    Replace:(blank)

    Another example is alternating row colors for tabular data:

    Find: (<tr)([^>]>[\S\s]?</tr>[\S\s]?<tr)([^>]>[\S\s]*?</tr>)

    Replace: $1 class=”primaryRowColor”$2 class=”secondaryRowColor”$3

    To convert to lower case on Windows, you simply highlight the code in question, right click anywhere in the document, and choose the “selection” option. There you will find loads of conversion (lower case and upper case for both text and tags), indenting, commenting, and code collapsing options.

    Text manipulation in Dreamweaver is not weak by any measure, but it does work a little differently.

    Annoying search dialog:

    Just about every search or find dialog I’ve ever used (granted I’m on Windows) proceeds to find the next instance of a term when the enter key is pressed—I can’t find one that doesn’t. I would think changing that behavior would cause usability issues for some folks who have come to expect it. You can on Windows, however, press ‘alt+c’ to close the Dreamweaver search dialog at any point.

    I don’t know if any of this stuff will work for the Mac version, but maybe it will help some Windows folks. Thanks for the review.

    -Hos

  21. I have to vote for TextMate. I use it all the time now, with every nightly build getting better and better. I learned that it can convert characters that I insert (like the copyright symbol) to the numeric character entities. This is great. You can use the Special Characters menu to open up the Character Inserter Window Thing and go to town.

    I don’t have dreamweaver 8 installed currently, but I have the installer sitting there in case I need it.

    I did use mx 2004 once last year to input some tabular data.

  22. October 31, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    To clarify my GUI complaints: Dreamweaver feels like a Windows or Java app ported to the Mac without fully considering Apple’s GUI guidelines. It doesn’t always use the standard widgets and fonts, and keyboard mapping is a bit weird.

    By “flaky” I mean “unpolished” and “inconsistent”.

    If you want Mac users to like an application, you need to make it look, feel and behave like a Mac application.

    I didn’t explicitly state in the review that I used the Mac version, so I’ll add a note about that since several of my complaints seem to be specific to the Mac version.

    Remapping shortcut keys: It’s nice that Dreamweaver allows that and comes with alternate keyboard setups. Unfortunately, the BBEdit set they provide is incomplete.

    Search dialog: On the Mac it normally goes away when you press enter. To find the next instance you press Command+G.

  23. I’ve tried several versions of Dreamweaver over the past few years, and I’ve never been impressed. About a month ago I downloaded an evaluation copy of PhpEd by NuSphere. I have to say that this is the best IDE I’ve ever user for Web development. It has code-completion for (X)HTML, PHP 4 and 5, CSS, and several others. It performs on-the-fly validation of your (X)HTML while in the editor, and on-the-fly PHP lint checking. It also has a built FTP client and read-only database features. Even if you don’t use PHP, I highly recommend this program to all code-by-hand programmers.

  24. I must wonder at why people get all up in arms so much against DW. DW certainly has it’s pros and cons, however, please just consider it a tool and realize that we all have preferences. I run DW8, but I also run a whole host of other programs that do what they do well. Some not so much.
    In my opinion, if you’ve grown up with an app, you are usually intimately familiar with what it does well. As soon as you’re a user of an app for awhile, and someone comes along and says it sucks, I’m apt to wonder how much they’ve actually used it. In this case, perhaps using it for 30 days is not a fair enough test. but that’s just a potential observation, not mandated truth.

    Here are some of my regular apps:

    CSS:

    CSSEdit by www.macrabbit.com (MacOSX)

    TEXT, XML, XHTML:

    skEdit by www.skti.org (MacOSX)

    Tag (wonderful app on MacOSX)

    TextMate (MacOSX)

    Taco HTML Edit (MacOSX)

    Smultron (MacOSX)

    TextWrangler (free from BBEdit doods) (MacOSX)

    XyleScope for analyzing css/xhtml layouts (MacOSX)

    PageSpinner (MacOSX)

    HyperEdit (MacOSX)

    In closing, the more you use each of these apps, and any other, the more aware you are of it’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s usually unfair to rate an app after using it for 5-10 minutes (unless it really sucks).

  25. Dreamweaver is probably not the best mac app for webdev. But on Windows there aren’t many other choices that compare to Dreamweaver.

    Dreamweaver MX 2004 was the worst when it came to stability. It would crash 1 out of 3 times and Macromedia or the forums never found a solution. Macromedia is like Microsoft when it comes to rolling out fixes and updates. Very scarcely and far in between.

    But, I have been using Dreamweaver 8 since it came out and it has yet to crash on me. It’s interface does have some quirkiness and its a bit bloated, but like I said, There isn’t much else on Windows to use, as far as I know.

    I’m an avid Mac fan and as soon as I get the cash I’m switching to a Mac, I already have a 12’ Powerbook and I love it. At that time, I’ll make the switch to BBEdit or the few other choices I have on a Mac.

  26. October 31, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    luxuryluke: Oh yes, which app you use definitely depends on your personal preferences.

    I wanted to give Dreamweaver an honest chance. And I think I did - I used it for a couple of hundred hours during the 30 day evaluation period ;-). And I think that if it was free I’d still be using it. But for an application with the price of Dreamweaver I expect more speed, better stability, and a polished GUI.

    Chris Griffin: The few other choices on the Mac? Check out luxuryluke’s list in comment #24 :-D.

  27. I’ve been using DW since v2 - jumped from FrontPage 95 (I think, may have been 98, was a long while ago). I also use text editors for things as well. I do hand coding and I do visual coding. Since I’ve become familiar with DW, I’ve found that I bounce between the visual and the source when I’m do page maintenance (as in, I can select the spot I want to edit in the visual, switch to the source, do my edit - saves time in scrolling to find what I want or using some search or other thing to find what I want to edit - I tend to work on a lot of different people’s sites, so I can memorize about where everythign is). When I’m doing straight code, I’m in the source view. When I do visual design, well after I do the write out by hand on paper, I code it in the source code, but then adjust visually.

    The real power of Dreamweaver is the automated tools that it comes with, many of the shareware, lower tier products have no extensibility built into them.[1] Certainly, for some what want to code everything themselves, this isn’t a benefit - however, a lot of handy code is available via extensibility, especially to the designer who doesn’t really have the time or inclination to develop hand coding skills. The search and replace is awesome (just this morning I did a site wide repleacement of a file path for a shopping cart, took a few second to code the regExp so that each path would be changed right). The CSS rendering has gotten significantly better, although I’m still able to code complex CSS better then it can render (they work in all the modern browsers but don’t display right in DW) - the majority of the CSS, however, it displays right. Without doing something to destabilize DW or on faulty equipment, since DW 2, I’ve never had crashing problems on Mac or PC (albeit, I only use the Mac for testing software in DW).

    I also really enjoy the ability of DW to integrate with the database on my server. I can pull in table columns easily, create and test SQL within DW, implement easy row/column displays, detail pages, conditional code, repeating sections, user authentication, prebuilt administration/content management data entry tools for data entry, editing and deletion. In prior versions I needed to hand code some of the SQL because it was beyond the ability of DW to parse/handle it, in DW 8 it seems to have stepped this up quite a bit and most all of the SQl I need it has handled.

    I also like the tag completion which even works with XML tags created as needed, I like the error checking on HTML structures (like, for example, if you neglected to complete a table cell or a DIV, it highlights the suspect code in yellow for you - while I’m sure everyone else types in perfect code the first time around, I have found this feature useful in debugging page errors). This is also related to the context sensitive help (control . or space, forget which off hand) which brings me a dropdown list of syntax, commands or available properties for the specific item in question - be it a tag, PHP command or CSS style attribute)

    I am a real big fan of the history section as well, if I’m doing some repeatative change that can broken down into keyboard steps (arrow down to new row, change the style in a table cell, tab over 1 column change the style to another type. tab over 1 column insert a link - repeat) you can highlight the steps in the history panel, click the repeat/insert button at the bottom and it does it again. Makes fast work of maintenance editing.

    I do know the interface is PC based and this is annoying for the Mac users (and it shouldn’t be so hard to make it look good for the Macs) and that is a valid complaint as is the sluggishness on the Mac (the PC version has been faster for the last couple of cycles - although, since my PC specs better then my Mac, I’m not the best judge of the relative speed differences).

    On the new document thing, while this is settable, it is designed to be a HTML editor, at heart, thus the new page creating some HTML in it works better for the other 99% of the client base for DW and, since this is changable, shouldn’t be seen as a fault of the product (and it is really easy to find, Edit->Preferences->New Document, set the default document as needed, Text, and it will show up blank.)

    I totally agree with you on the text case, so much so (so many years ago) I added this functionality to the product (Case and Caps Change) which will change the case of the selected text to all upper, all lower, sentance caps and proper caps (the first letter is capped).

    Thanks for having an open mind when looking at it, some of the cons you have are valid and I do hope MM/Adobe will take them seriously in future releases. I think DW is an awesome product once the learning curve has been gotten over and ever a good product for those who will never need to get over that hump.

    [1]-in interest of disclosure, I author extensions for DW, so my opinion on this feature may be seriously influenced by my business.

  28. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future users had more custom control over the GUI. Right now you can create your own panels for Fireworks with some Flash, Javascript, and your History panel; I don’t see that being difficult to translate to Dreamweaver.

    Also, is it just me or are all Macromedia Apps prone to crashing? Everytime I close Fireworks 8 it crashes, and during the Studio 8 web seminars Breeze kept crashing on their end and resulted in one of the seminars to be postponed entirely. I feel like no matter what version of a Macromedia Product I’ve had it’s always crashed more often than not.

  29. I think to fully appreciate the power of DW, you must delve into its powerful templating features. Templates, nested templates, library items…these have been such big time savers for me. Also, on non-dynamic or database driven sites (static pages), the site management features are huge. You can completely re-arrange the directory structure of a site and DW will make sure all the links get updated…automatically. If you’re working in a group, the check-in/check-out functions are also nice.

  30. I think to fully appreciate the power of DW, you must delve into its powerful templating features. Templates, nested templates, library items…these have been such big time savers for me

    I suspect that a lot of us that code dynamic pages that make judicious use of includes wouldn’t see much benefit from these template features that seem to be geared towards managing large sites that are static HTML. Same goes for the site management tools.

    I’m not saying they aren’t powerful, nor that DW is not a good product - just that the power that you suggest needs to be understood to appreciate the power of DW is completely unconvincing and irrelevant to me.

    As for the check in/check out - it doesn’t thrill me. I’d rather use Subversion. Perhaps its just my background, but those features seem to be non-features to me.

    FWIW - I use Dreamweaver quite a bit.

  31. While DW is still my tool of choice, I do most of my work in Code View (which is greatly improved in version 8). Having worked with both the Mac and Windows version, you can safely assume that most of the problems you list are Mac version problems.

    You can read my review of DW 8’s accessibility features at http://www.webaim.org/discussion/mail_thread.php?thread=2534

  32. I agree with some of the comments made but others seem to puzzle me a bit. Maybe it just shows a difference in peoples workflows as there very seems to be one true way in web design. And rightly so.

    The Mac OSX version of DW8 is very slugginsh compared to the PC version. I have an 18 month old Sony Vaio running XP Service pack 2 and a iMac G5 with 1gb of RAM (Not the brand new one with the iSight but the one before that).

    When you start up DW it seems to take an age on the Mac before you can actually do anything at all.

    I also know what you mean about the GUI. Dreamweaver is one of the only apps that I have used that doesn’t look better on a Mac.

  33. Now I’m ot going to start evangelising here, just to recount my experience. I started web design a little over a year ago with a Powerbook and an iMac. Initially, followng an erase and install n the PB I had big stability problems with all the Studio MX 2004 apps. Ahh, you all say, see we told you.

    No, not really, from this point is the experience that will keep me with Macromedia for the long run, unless they do something particularly stupid.

    After not being able to resolve my problem, Asia-Apc support bumped me up the ladder to the US team. After several emails to trouble shoot, they set up an appointment and the senior tech engineer called me (from the US - I’m in Australia) right on time. He spent half an hour with me and we couldnt resolve the issue.

    Did he give up, blame my PB or OSX or cosmic intervention? No He simply made another appointment - then called me back with two other senior tech engineers conferenced in.

    At the end of the hour long call (at their cost), the problem was solved and I’ve had no issues since.

    Now, why would I want to go to all that trouble you might ask and still support the product. Simple, its because that type of support and attitude to customer service is sadly lacking with most of their competitors - Adobe for one can learn a lot from the MM side in their new partnership - their support is truly lousy.

    The point is, ok some Studio products may not be perfect, but show me any software that is…

    The main point is, they supported me, stayed with me until my problem was resolved. They got the job done - and with a friendly supportive manner the whole way. In my opinon, thats rare today and to be commended.

    I’ll stick with MM because I know they’re there if I need them.

    In hindsight I now know a lot of the issues I haad were actually font corruption problems in OSX as opposed to problems with the MM software and having Font Book open when using studio software can have some odd effects, so shut it off. Otherwise I’ve found MX2004 great to work with and great in learning web design. Granted I now work mostly in code view but you cant discount the find & replace and ftp managing features DW has.

    I for one, can’t wait to get Studio 8 installed.

  34. Well, not having an established baseline for what sort of thing you expect from this software, I must point out a few things nonetheless:

    If you want advanced text manipulation (like case conversion), there’s a fully featured RegEx engine in there. And not knowing RegEx is absurd.

    The PC edition of DreamWeaver is a lot better. The Mac one suffers from the MDI type of UI that was popular on windows about ten years ago. I find it extremely distracting to have little windows to manage everywhere, whereas on the PC version you don’t end up with any floating controls at all.

    I use DW primarily for its manipulation capabilities and its excellent built-in file manager. The synchronization feature within an IDE is something I can’t go without.

  35. Interesting article, though I am not too fond of a lot of the changes made in Studio 8.

  36. November 1, 2005 by Julien

    Dreamweaver is certainly a great piece of software, but i agree with you for the GUI stuff and also the search dialog. The only thing i learned using Dreamweaver, was that if you want to learn html, css or wathever…use a basic text editor first and then come back to Dreamweaver

    I don’t really like DW’s “templates” (like when making a connection to a database) even if they are really useful, or the way DW creates styles when you change the font in “design view”, another anoying thing is the way the code is formatted… That said, Macromedia has once again done a great work with this release

    just my two cents

  37. Yeah, DW’s come a long way since it first appeared. I haven’t used DW 8 yet, but I’ve used DW 4 up to DW MX 2004, and I must say that it’s getting better.

  38. November 1, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Damien: It’s good to know that their support is there for you when/if you need it.

    Lee: I use regular expressions all the time in BBEdit. Where did you get the idea that I don’t know RegEx? Either way, it helps to have stuff built in. Like case conversion, which is what I found myself looking for a couple of times while evaluating DW.

  39. I spend $25 USD and got all the web dev app all need. (OS X Only)

    Transmit 3 (Panic.com) ($25 USD) • Advanced Sync - to or from server • Open a remote file in your favorite text editor and auto upload every time you save. • So much more.

    Smultron (free) • Multiple pages, one window • Save multiple open files as project • Advanced Find Replace and Regex • auto close tags • Snipplet draw • Syntax highlighting for everything (customizable) • Preview • So much more

    I used DW ultra dev 2004 for a couple of years, but found all I needed to do xhtml, css, and php was those two tools.

    Oh yea, don’t forget the webdev tool bar for Fire Fox ;)

  40. And of course, let’s not forget the most important feature about Dreamweaver: Pong! (Yes, you know what I mean… the game. How do you play pong using Dreamweaver? Well, all you need to do is open your Properties Inspector and type the word dreamweaver into the field for colour; then hit return or enter. Have fun!)

  41. I use dreamweaver mx 2004 at work (on MAC) and it’s nothing to rave about. It crashes often, and the WYSIWYG editor - where you can create tables, move stuff, etc - is horrible. For styling text, it uses CSS, but the ways that it implements it in the code is very poor. I know they’ve - Macromedia (now Adobe) - worked on this, however in my opinion, it needs tremendous work.

    I stick to the old-fashioned way of creating things; By hand coding. I just use the software, mostly, as a directory/Web site management tool.

  42. It’s a bit frustrating that 8 made such advances in standards compliant code and accesibility features, yet it still uses that damn proprietary JS for image rollovers.

    Meh. I will stick with BBEdit.

  43. November 5, 2005 by Andreas

    I appreciate Dreamweaver when I have to update sites built authored by other people. It makes life a little easier than trying to wade through ugly code in my current text editor of choice. You ask, what might that be? None other than the vi editor. I get what I need, color coding, powerful text editing tools, and it’s free. Nice thing is, I can use it on my Mac OSX workstation for authoring, or after I have uploaded my work to my LAMP server for testing. It’s probably just me, but code hinting and automatic tag closing sometimes interrupts my flow when I am writing code. If I can’t remember exactly some code I want to use, well that is why my library of O’Reilly pocket references sit next to my monitors. Of course, my tastes may change as time goes on and my experiance level increases.

    Blair

    Sadly, pong isn’t available in the Mac version of Dreamweaver. I will have to try it the next time I head into the PC lab.

  44. I can’t say anything for the design mode of Dreamweaver because I don’t use it. However, Dreamweaver is my primary XHTML/CSS code editor mostly because of the excellent context sensitive dropdown lists that are provided. Other programs have these, but most of them aren’t nearly as fast and for me they are used purely for speeding up my output. They heavily increase my productivity, I can’t imagine programming without them (I’m a software engineer by trade, designer by hobby/consulting). Doing any code editing without context sensitive dropdowns seems almost archaic nowadays.

    I can’t comment on your GUI issues as I use Dreamweaver in Windows and it is pretty stable for me.

  45. So, did they fix the FTP sluggishness? I use MX to code and I hate the built-in FTP. Do they let you set permissions now? Can I upload and work at same time?

  46. Yes, yes, yes and yes.

    I’ve been coding with Dreamweaver for a little over three years now. Originally, it wasn’t by choice. Dreamweaver MX was purchased for me by a client so I could collaborate with a geographically dispersed group of developers on a system managed by Dreamweaver templates. I thought to myself, why not? It’s never a bad thing to learn a new thing.

    Since then I’ve never passed up an opportunity to upgrade to the latest version. Along the way, I quickly learned to appreciate its code coloring and mark-up formatting as well as the great code hinting and validation capabilities. I learned about a lot of CSS properties just by looking at all the valid values presented in the code hints and then going to the included O’Reilly CSS Reference built right in to the application to find out what they were supposed to do. I think what really sucked me in were the site management tools. If you manage multiple different websites on multiple different servers, there is nothing better in my mind for the money.

    Dreamweaver 8 is truly worth the price of admission. They have fixed pretty much everything that has ever bothered me. Including the four issues mentioned by m above.

    The best thing about this latest upgrade? I’ve been using 8 for a month now, and I haven’t had a single crash. Knock on wood. That used to happen way too much.

    Dreamweaver. It’s not just a WYSIWIG.

  47. I just wanted to say that I use dreamweaver all the time and that it’s great - especially the new version. On my Windows machine the GUI doens’t feel bloated what so ever, and the application is very responsive and takes approx. as much RAM as Firefox. (3.4GHz, 1 GB DDR2, 5-5-5-12, SATA 7200 rpm)

    I could list lots and lots of features that are great - take for example the tool to find the applied css rules for an element - great if you don’t wanna use “view selection source” or similar in FF. It has a built-in validator. It can render rather complex CSS designs, it provides a great start-point for text-formatting because you can see what u get (obviously) and it produces XHTML compliant code unless you make invalid yourself.

  48. very nice review, thanks!

  49. November 17, 2005 by Krista

    One thing that I found that helped the stability of Dreamweaver a lot (MX 2004 anyway) was to make sure that the path of every defined site had no spaces in it (for example “c:\sites\samplesite”\ instead of “c:\sites\sample site”). This was buried somewhere in the Dreamweaver or Contribute online documentation and I tried it and it helped. If only they had pointed that a little sooner, like as I was setting up my sites, I would have been much happier.

  50. Dreamweaver is absolutely infuriating. Having used the Mac version of DWMX2004, I’m sure my vituperative disdain for the program is related to the red-headed stepchild nature of DW on OS X. Or it could just be my own preference for hand-coding clouding the issue.

    Thank the maker for BBEdit.

    (Oh, and please, Dreamweaver’s “checkout” system is a bloody joke as far as source code management goes. Boundless hatred flowing from that particular font.)

  51. Although I am using a older PC (p4 1.something processor, 384mb of ram) I have had no issues running v8. Although I have yet to fully explore the newer features, dw will probably be part of my development tool box for quite a while, and since they have now partnered with adobe, it should only get better

  52. I had Dreamweaver MX 2004, and it was all right on my Windows laptop. A tad slow, but it worked. I was interested in the Studio 8 upgrade, since you can use that to upgrade a single product (Dreamweaver, Flash, etc) to the full suite, so I bought it for the introductory pricing ($200 off - pretty good!). The DW 8 seems slightly faster on my WinXP laptop, and the new features are indeed useful (auto-close tags, code folding, etc). And the useful features that made me like the previous version are still there (site management, extended find/replace). I use DW 8 for all my web work now (except .NET).

    It works well for me, and it is easily worth the price in my eyes.

  53. February 11, 2006 by Jennifer

    I am SUCH a novice. Am trying to compare, toward purchase, the difference between DW & FP. I would like to take control over the maintenance of my existing site, ergo the need for relevant software. This page makes a compelling argument for DW. Anybody??? Thanks to all for your collective consideration and willingness to help others grow.

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