|Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Review
Adobe Creative Suite 3Dreamweaver CS3 is the first Adobe-branded version of the feature-rich Web-site editor that was last released as Macromedia's Dreamweaver 8. After Adobe bought Macromedia, it began integrating Dreamweaver with Photoshop and other applications in the Adobe Creative Suite, and Dreamweaver CS3 is the impressive result.
* Complete Adobe Creative Suite 3 Coverage
* Dreamweaver Studio MX
* Microsoft Expression Web
* Adobe Photoshop CS3
* Adobe Contribute CS3
The new version is an essential upgrade for any Dreamweaver user who wants to build up-to-date CSS-based code, and it offers effortless drag-and-drop integration with Photoshop. Potential newcomers may want to compare Dreamweaver with Microsoft's compact Expression Web before taking the plunge. Both programs let you create sites from templates that impose design consistency, and both automatically display syntax options when you're editing code. Dreamweaver, however, gets bonus points for supporting Secure FTP uploads, and it's the only choice if you want automated code-completion on PHP and ColdFusion pages. Dreamweaver also includes prebuilt dynamic widgets such as an "Accordion" that expands to display hidden data when a user clicks on a title.
Even more now than in earlier versions, Dreamweaver acts like a powerful, smooth-running machine, with up to a dozen control panels, multitabbed inspectors, toolbars, and other controls arrayed around its editing screen. If you like the feeling that you can do anything on the page in the editing window, and that you can fine-tune even the most complexly organized Web site, Dreamweaver is the program to choose.
On the other hand, Dreamweaver's overstuffed menus and toolbars can be intimidating and confusing, and you need to pay close attention to its messages that remind you to upload auxiliary files to your remote site when publishing. I was also frustrated by the way Dreamweaver's right-click menu lacks the context-sensitive options in Expression Web's menu, and by the way Dreamweaver exiles its tools that manage dynamic data to hard-to-find property panels away from the main editing window. Expression Web also uses property panels when you want them, but it offers a compact set of commonly used options from the right-click context menu.
I also found Dreamweaver's WYSIWYG editing more fragile than Expression Web's. I kept colliding with baffling error messages or nonfunctioning code if I deleted something from the WYSIWYG window but forgot to remove the invisible tag that contained it. The code for Spry widgets, for example, sometimes got corrupted so that dynamic elements stopped being dynamic—and Dreamweaver would only tell me that the code seemed to be broken, not how to fix it. Also, Dreamweaver's help system manages to be bloated and inadequate at the same time, with a sprawling list of topics but laconic explanations of the actual steps. It's infuriating to find that links on the local help pages to "related information" usually turn out to be exactly the same page, but on the Web instead of on your local machine.
Despite its problems, Dreamweaver remains a colossus among Web editors, and the only one that comes with an application—Adobe Device Central—that previews your pages as they'll appear on mobile phones and other portable devices. If there's a feature that you want to add to your site that you can't find on the menu, you can probably add it through the massive library of freeware extensions that users have contributed to Dreamweaver's online resource. Expression Web gets many basic jobs done much more elegantly, so it keeps our Editors' Choice—by a nose. But Dreamweaver is much improved, and it's the only Web editor that does everything. You may find that for some tasks, Dreamweaver is the only way to go.