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Whats new in Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

Some upgrades are rip-offs, some are bug-ridden, some are too minor to worry about, but some are usually must-haves. Dreamweaver upgrades tend to fall into this last category.

Dreamweaver is used in web-development and, because the web is constantly evolving, each new Dreamweaver release usually offers features which reflect the rapidly changing environment in which the program is used. Adobe recently acquired Macromedia, the company who created Dreamweaver. So what have Adobe come up with in this their first upgrade since inheriting everybody’s favourite web development tool?

Since the release of Dreamweaver 8, way back in 2005, the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) in web page layout has become widely recognised as the way forward. However, CSS page layout coding can be a little daunting for new web designers. Dreamweaver CS3 includes a wide range of customisable CSS layouts which include useful comments for inexperienced developers explaining how the designs function. The layouts may be used not only to create individual pages but also Dreamweaver templates.

Dreamweaver CS3 has useful new features for transferring CSS code from one location to another. You can move an internal CSS definition from inside an individual page to an external style sheet. It is also possible to take inline CSS (located next to the item it described) and transfer to an external style


Dreamweaver CS4

sheet.

One of Dreamweaver CS3’s nicest new CSS features is the ability to move CSS code form one place to another. This is particularly useful for updating pages created before CSS was used for page layout. CSS code can now be easily transferred from inside a page, both embedded style sheets and inline styles, to an external style sheet.

Dreamweaver has long had great features for integrating content with Fireworks. This new version extends a similar level of integration with the more widely-used Adobe Photoshop. Documents, slices or selections can be copied from Photoshop and pasted straight into Dreamweaver. An Image Preview window then appears in which compression and optimisation settings may be specified before the image is saved.

Dreamweaver now has support for Ajax, a programming model which uses various technologies, including JavaScript, to create fast, interactive web applications that respond to user actions by sending and receiving data to and from a server and refreshing elements of a web page without first having to reload that page. The Spry Framework, included in Dreamweaver CS3 is a collection of JavaScript code which offers developers a painless way of adding simple Ajax content to their pages.

Dreamweaver’ Spry content is divided into three categories called widgets, special effects and data sets. The widgets offer several different interface elements such as tabbed panels which allow designers to display content in a given part of the page which changes when the user clicks a particular tab. Other widgets include form validation utilities which check data entered into elements on a form and menus and sub-menus for navigation.

Spry effects can be applied to wide range of HTML components and include the ability to fade, highlight, zoom and shrink page elements in response to user interaction.

Spry data sets will bring in data from an external XML data source and display it on the page. Data sets offer a drill-down facility whereby users can click on information already displayed to bring up more detailed information on that particular item somewhere else on the page.

Adobe has not forgotten Mac users in this upgrade either. Dreamweaver CS3 now has Intel-based Mac Compatibility. This makes CS3 the first version of Dreamweaver to run natively on Intel-based Macs (as well as PowerPCs).

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The Great New Features Offered By Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

A lot of software upgrades are not really worth buying, being over-priced and often full of bugs. Dreamweaver upgrades, however, always tend to be worth getting.

Since Dreamweaver Is a web development tool, new features tend to reflect changes in the web technology, such as the growing importance of CSS. It’s not usually just a case of introducing a few snazzy new tools for the sake of it.

The previous version of Dreamweaver, version 8, assumed that most users were using tables for the layout of their pages. Since then, there has been a shift towards creating more accessible page layouts using cascading style sheets (CSS). This change is reflected in Dreamweaver CS3 which now includes a series of useful CSS layouts which can be used as the basis for new pages or, more typically, new templates. Each layout contains HTML comments which explain how they are put together and how they can be modified.

Dreamweaver CS3 has useful new features for transferring CSS code from one location to another. You can move an internal CSS definition from inside an individual page to an external style sheet. It is also possible to take inline CSS (located next to the item it described) and transfer to an e


Dreamweaver CS4

xternal style sheet.

The new browser compatibility feature in Dreamweaver CS3 allows users to check for issues within their pages relating to specific browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Netscape). It creates a report explaining problems which may occur when CSS on your pages is rendered in a particular browser.

The last time Dreamweaver was upgraded, Photoshop was a rival to Macromedia’s own Fireworks. Now that Dreamweaver and Photoshop are part of the same stable, Adobe has enhanced their compatibility. You can now copy a slice, selection or entire document from Photoshop, move over to Dreamweaver and paste it. This brings up a special window which enables to optimise and save the copied pixels as a new image.

As well as enhanced support for CSS, Dreamweaver now allows the inclusion of elements of the new Ajax technology which uses JavaScript to add a new level of interactivity to web pages by updating the page with elements from a server without having to reload the page. Dreamweaver’s implementation of Ajax is via the Spry framework. This is a collection of JavaScript-based code which provides a simple way for web designers to add Ajax content to their pages without having to type a line of code.

There are three types of Spry content: widgets, special effects and data sets. Spry Widgets are clickable page elements which respond to user interaction in funky ways. For example, there is a tabbed panel widget which displays different content in the same part of the page depending on which tab the user clicks on. There are also widgets for creating navigational menus and submenus and for validating text fields, text areas and select elements on a form.

Spry effects can be applied to a wide range of HTML elements. They allow designers to have images and other page content fade, shrink, zoom etc. in response to actions carried out by the user such as moving the mouse pointer over a particular element.

Spry data sets will bring in data from an external XML data source and display it on the page. Data sets offer a drill-down facility whereby users can click on information already displayed to bring up more detailed information on that particular item somewhere else on the page.

Dreamweaver CS3 is also the first version of the program to offer compatibility with Intel-based and PowerPC Macintosh systems. It also runs on Windows XP and Windows Vista systems.

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Author is a developer and trainer with Macresource Computer Solutions, an independent computer training company offering Adobe Dreamweaver training courses in London and throughout the UK.

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