The Bottom Line
Adobe Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG and text editor for Windows Macintosh best suited to Professional Web Designers and Professional Web Developers. It costs $399.00. There is a free trial.
Score: 235 / 76%
- Built-in HTML and CSS editors and validators as well as WYSIWYG
- In context CSS editing lets you see all the CSS styles that affect any area of a page
- Edit and view dynamic pages in interim states, not just the default
- HTML5 and CSS 3 support and tools (with a free extension)
- Site setup is ridiculously easy now
- Very complicated, with lots of features, so it can be intimidating to novices
- The link checker still only checks links on the current site, not external links
- Ecommerce, SEO, and Google sitemaps are only available through extensions
- Photo gallery maker and accessibility validator were removed from this version
- Work in either WYSIWYG or HTML code view to generate valid XHTML, HTML 4, or HTML5 code.
- Site setup does not have to be done all at once. All you need to know is the name of your site and a location on your hard drive to store it.
- Starter layouts include lots of documentation to make them even easier to learn advanced HTML and CSS techniques with.
- See your styles in action as you change them with the CSS inspector.
- Edit Joomla!, Drupal, and WordPress templates without needing to know the site structure. Edit them in WYSIWYG mode.
- Dreamweaver will automatically discover related files on dynamic (PHP, ASP, ColdFusion) created sites so that you can edit complex applications.
- Support for multiple servers for things like testing and QA servers as well as live website servers.
- Improved support for version control with Subversion.
- Code hinting for PHP custom classes.
Guide Review - Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
When I first learned about the changes to Dreamweaver CS5, I was very excited. I have never been a huge fan of WYISWYG editors, because I find that the often do things to the code that I don't expect. But with Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe has come a lot closer to creating a WYSIWYG editor that I will use regularly.
While it's been a long time since Dreamweaver has added annoying code bits like
<p> </p>, the WYSIWYG editor has been cumbersome and slow for me to use. But with Dreamweaver CS5, I find myself staying more and more in the visual window to style elements and move things around than I ever used to. The CSS inspector makes it easy to see both what CSS styles are being applied and how specific they are in the context of the page. I can then edit them directly or use the CSS editor. I haven't turned off code view yet, but I'm starting to think that day may come.
Dreamweaver CS5 Wants to Help Novices
This is a very powerful editor, and as such there are dozens if not hundreds of things you can do with dreamweaver. Because the software is so big it can often be very overwhelming to people new to it. Adobe took a look at this and added some fixes and new features to help novices learn HTML, web design, and Dreamweaver more quickly. Things like:
- fixing site set up - you used to have to know all about your site's servers, languages, and everything just to set it up. Now Dreamweaver CS5 prompts you for that information when it needs it. Site set up can be as simple as giving your site a name and a directory on your local hard drive.
- documentation in starter layouts - many people use the Dreamweaver free templates to learn ho to do complicated things on their web pages like 3-column layouts. Now these templates have even more documentation within them to help you learn HTML and CSS from them.
- inspect mode - when you make changes to your CSS you can see how the box model is affected. This is really helpful to know how a page will look in various browsers. And helps beginners better understand the CSS box model.
Programmers are Helped by Dreamweaver CS5 Too
I have already written four different WordPress templates using Dreamweaver CS5. The dynamic files finder has been invaluable for me to be able to see how existing templates are created and then use them and their associated files to create my own templates. Dreamweaver CS5 also has support for Drupal and Joomla! templates.
Adobe BrowserLab is now built-in to CS5 which makes it a simple thing to test how pages will look in multiple browsers and operating systems. And the Subversion support has been extended to let you revert and roll back changes as well as just checking files in and out.
Finally, code hinting is no longer limited to languages that you have libraries for. Dreamweaver CS5 can look at your PHP code and give you hints on even your own custom classes.
But Dreamweaver CS5 Isn't Perfect
Link checking is still only available for internal links. If your site has lots of external links, you'll need to keep them up-to-date using a different tool.
There are also several features that other editors have built-in that Dreamweaver requires an extension to use:
- HTML5 and CSS 3 support — a free extension is available from Adobe
- Ecommerce wizards
- Google sitemaps
- SEO assistance
Plus, in Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe removed the accessibility and HTML validators and the photo gallery. While these may not have been heavily used features, for those people who did use them, they will be missed. And there are some other features missing. What other features do you miss in Dreamweaver CS5?