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Web Design Series- Dreamweaver 8 and CS3: Whats The Difference?

So you now have the Dreamweaver 8 and you are just not quite sure whether your web design company is willing to shell out some more to upgrade to the latest CS3 version.

This is actually a challenging decision to make for your web design company. As a web designer, you have to work with the software, so it is both your right and responsibility to decide whether the new version will help you come up with improved web design. This makes you wonder too: Now that Adobe has already bought Macromedia, what have they done to it? Have they ruined it, or have they made it so much better that you should already kick yourself now for not buying it earlier? Well, if I were to be asked, I stand somewhere in between these two.

Web design feature #1: Adobe and Dreamweaver Together
Your web design company may find it reason enough to buy the new Dreamweaver CS3 because of its full integration with Adobe graphics tools like those found in Photoshop. When you have an image, you can directly click on it and edit right away.

Web design feature #2: CSS

Dreamweaver CS4

Support Made Better
One of the best features found in the new Dreamweaver CS3 is the integration of better CSS layouts. These layouts are all well-commented in the code, so it can be pretty easy to start knowing how CSS layouts tend to work. They now have over 32 layouts that you can choose from in 1, 2 or 3-column formats, in fixed and liquid type web designs. You may also define the position where you want the CSS to be when creating a new page, not to mention how easy it is to move the CSS styles around.
You can stat out by styling the tag directly into the HTML through a style attribute and move it to your style sheet. With Dreamweaver CS3, you will only have to right click on the tag and set it to “Convert Inline CSS to Rule” to build a custom class for that specific style or to create one full CSS selector.

Web design feature #3: Mobile Support
Your web design company will also be pleased to know about the mobile support integrated into the new CS3 version. Creating pages made especially for mobile devices have been popular in the recent years, but it can be difficult to design one which is compatible both on mobile and web browser platforms. However, with the integration of the Adobe Device Central into the CS3, Dreamweaver now makes it easy to view your pages in cell phones.

Web design feature #4: Ajax Implementation Now Made Possible.
The Dreamweaver CS3 now has integrated the Spry framework so that it adding Ajax widgets and effects onto your pages have now been made possible. All you do is to drag and drop them and incorporate them into your dataset. Dreamweaver CS3 features Spry components which include: widgets for tables, lists and forms: transition effects such as growing, shrinking, highlighting and fading, and integration of data from XML feeds such as in database or RSS.

Web design feature #5: XLST Support
Another amazing feature about the CS3 that both you and your web design company will love is the extensive support it has for XLST through the use of XML files as database source. Through XSLT, it is easy to view the XML in a tree form and integrate it right into your HTML document. This simply means that if you have a number of XML files set in the same format; it is relatively simple to create one single template for all of them in the new CS3 using XLST.

Web design feature #6: Support for Mac Intel Processors
If your web design company works on an Intel-based Macintosh platform, you will be happy with the performance improvements of the CS3. It is now native to the platform and does not run on Rosetta so that it loads a lot quickly than before. In fact, CS3 claims that what loads in Dreamweaver 8 for 4 minutes can load in the CS3 in under one minute. You can do further testing to confirm this.

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade.
That is the question. In my case, I have upgraded and haven’t regretted any of it. I appreciate the new CSS features, the XSLT support and the Device Central. However, your web design company may see one piece that is still missing, which is that of web design time and programming. As in the previous versions, the Dreamweaver CS3 is also still difficult to use in terms of live databases and server side scripts. However, there may be extensions to make things easier for you. On a general whole, go on and upgrade and you will most likely never have to look back.

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Moe Tamani is a Marketing expert with a leading SEO services company specializing in SEO web design.

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Dreamweavers Approach To Website Accessibility

Accessibility, in the context of websites, refers to the degree to which the content you add to your web site can be accessed by your audience; all of them, not just the able bodied ones and those with 20/20 vision. Accessible websites offer good support for screen readers, cater for users who browse the web without viewing graphics and who wish to magnify the text on your pages to a level comfortable for their eyesight.

Dreamweaver has a number of features which enable web developers to ensure that content on their pages Is accessible. There are useful dialogs which appear automatically when content added to a page can be made accessible. Dreamweaver also allows web page creators to check their pages for any accessibility issues.

Dreamweaver’s program settings contain two main features relating to accessibility. To access these settings, choose Edit – Preferences (or Dreamweaver – Preferences) on a Mac. Next, click on the Accessibility category and activate the options which to display attributes for form objects, media (which refers to such things as video clips, audio and Flash) and graphics. It is also useful, in the General category, to switch on the option to use CSS instead of HTML tags.

So what is the result of switching on these various preferences? Well, firstly, Dreamweaver will use CSS tags whenever you format text or the background of the page. The CSS tags contain the formatting information and will be placed in the head area of the page away from the content which will be in the page body. The program will also display a dialog box with accessibility options each time you insert an image, form field or media element such as a Flash movie or video clip.

Thus, whenever you add

Dreamweaver CS4

an image to a page, a dialog will appear prompting you for alternate (alt) text. This attribute makes images more accessible by providing a description of the images to users accessing the web with a slow connection as they wait for the image to load or who have disabled the display of images. The alt text will also be spoken by the screen readers commonly used by web surfers with impaired vision.

In addition to the alt text, Dreamweaver also allows you to browse for or enter a path leading to a long description file. This option relates to HTML’s longdesc attribute which should be used for images whose content is too detailed or too important to be described in the short alt text.

Just as the alt text describes the function of images, the label attribute describes the function of each form field. When the accessibility preferences are active, Dreamweaver will prompt you to enter a descriptive tag for each field. In addition, you can specify the tab order of each element. This is the order in which elements within the form can be accessed by users by simply pressing the Tab key.

Every time you add a Flash movie, video clip or other media element to a web page, Dreamweaver will also prompt you to make the media element accessible. There are three attributes which it refers to: the title, access key and tab index. The title should offer a brief description of the media element in a way similar to that in which an alt label describes an image. The access key is a keyboard shortcut which can be used to make the media element active. The tab index indicates where the media element lies in the tab order, the order in which elements are accessed when the Tab key is pressed.

Dreamweaver not only gives you help in making your page content accessible, it will also check your pages to see if they contain elements which are not accessible. To use the accessibility utility, click on the File menu then on Check Page and finally on Accessibility. The utility runs and then displays a list of elements on the page which are not accessible. If you double-click on any of the items in the list, the code representing it will be instantly highlighted allowing you to edit it.

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