Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Review
Macromedia has just released its latest version of the world's leading Web site editing software, Dreamweaver, as well as its related products Fireworks, Flash, etc. The early reviews are good, so we'll share ours here. Before beginning, if you are using Dreamweaver MX or earlier, we have to recommend an upgrade. If you are using Dreamweaver MX 2004 and use modern standards and CSS-based design, we would also recommend an upgrade. Dreamweaver is once again a clear leader over FrontPage, however, we cannot recommend for or against switching as a new version of FrontPage is due out next year.
The first thing one notices about Dreamweaver 8 is that for once the interface is similar to the previous version. Dreamweaver does import some convenient features from Adobe products including the way it plugs in objects such as Flash movies and the ability to use guide lines. Guide lines are just for visual use in placing things on the page and are strictly part of the visual experience, they are not part of the Web page document.
The biggest improvements in this new version of Dreamweaver are in its support for CSS. First of all, its overall standards compliance is improved and it generally produces better quality code than the last version. There is also a new CSS tab on the right that makes working with styles much easier. The neatest new feature, however, is a new view button that lets the user direct Dreamweaver to show the various layers at work using either borders or backgrounds. As with the guidelines these are not changes to the page, just visual appearances in Dreamweaver to make working with it easier.
Users will also find it much easier to work in the Design view to access and edit the size and position of each layer as well as its padding and its margin, essential concepts in the CSS box model.
One last major point to look at. When creating a new object, one can specify the document type and thus the standards to apply (e.g., XHTML 1.0 Transitional). Once that is done, Dreamweaver 8 does an excellent job of keeping code compliant with that standard. The effect may turn out to be most notable when cutting and pasting from Microsoft Word documents. In the past when doing this, one was often stuck with lots of bizarre, proprietary Microsoft HTML code and styles or, after stripping all that cod out, with a lot of hand work to make the page look the way it did previously in Word. The new Dreamweaver 8 does a great job of copying from Microsoft Word, creating a page that looks appropriate to the way the text looked before, but without all of the strange Microsoft code.
A few other notable changes include better use of database objects, support for RSS feeds and the ability to preview a page as it would display for different devices, including screen (browser), printer and portable devices.
Much Ado About Sex And Web Sites
Any survey that makes generalizations based on gender should, in my view, be taken with more than a grain of salt. However, recognizing things as generalizations sometimes helpful information will emerge.
A recent study follows-up on work done on print documents and how they are experienced by men and women and applies that research to the Web. The research comes in three parts:
- Web sites designed by men tend strongly to have a series of characteristics which the researchers could label "masculine" (conversely they could label another set of characteristics "feminine").
- Men tend to respond to "masculine" Web sites and women tend to respond to "feminine" Web sites.
- Web site managers can benefit from being aware of these biases and how they may be reflected in their Web sites.
So what are those characteristics? The researchers identified the following as "feminine" characteristics:
- Fewer links
- Informal language
- More abbreviations
- Rounded corners
- Avoidance of horizontal layouts
- Informal typography
- More colors
- More pictures of women
A recommendation from one of our folks here on campus, we have not tested it at Web Services.
A really interesting article that explains the origin of many of the CSS bugs found in IE 6 including those resolved by the famous "Holly Hack."
Good advice for everyone. It is not a matter of whether people should print your pages but whether they will. This article provides some easy helps for doing it right. For those learning CSS this will also help move your thinking in the direction away from traditional graphic design which is frozen in form to the Web as its own medium.
Not sure I buy the exact statistics, but the point is good. IE while still the biggest player on the block does not hold the monopoly it used to.
All good points and every one, while designed to help with accessibility and screen readers, will improve your Web site for other purposes as well.