Dreamweaver 8

The latest version of Dreamweaver – Dreamweaver 8 – has been launched today. I was lucky enough to be involved with the Beta and so have been working with this new version for several months. So, is it worth the upgrade?

If you use Dreamweaver for visual design, and in particular for CSS based layouts, then I think it is. There are some superb new features which make working visually with CSS far easier. The new Unified CSS Panel means that all of your CSS tools are in one place and you can edit CSS in the existing way – via the CSS Rule Definition Dialog – or edit properties in the Panel, while seeing the changes in Design View. When working in Design View, new Visual Aids help you to see how the different page elements in your layout work together, by showing you padding and margins applied to elements for example, or setting each positioned element with a different background colour. These Visual Aids are really useful, especially for those just getting to grips with CSS, as confusing issues such as how the Box Model works are highlighted clearly.

All of the above wouldn’t be much help if the rendering of CSS within Design View was poor, however this new version of Dreamweaver comes with a greatly improved rendering engine, and for most CSS layouts what you see is actually what you will get in a decent, modern browser. There are also many other improvements – new functionality to work with XML and XSL for example – and the product seems faster and more stable than the previous version.

There is, as always, a free 30 day trial available for download. If you try it out or upgrade I’d be really interested to know how you get on with it. As part of my work with WaSP I’m a member of the Dreamweaver Task Force, and we are keen to feed back to the Dreamweaver team our thoughts – good and bad – about this new version, with regard to how it supports designers and developers who want to work to web standards.

Mike Jones on the 13 Sep 2005:

I got the email today announcing it with a dumb header graphic that said “Celebr8te.”. Which if you say it like its written says “Celebr-ate-te.”… Not the smartest tag line.

Simon R Jones on the 14 Sep 2005:

I’ve been using a beta version for the past few weeks and have found the CSS support vastly improved, allowing far easier editing of more complex CSS based layouts.

The change in HTML code completion is nice too. DW now only completes the closing tag once you start to type </

And so far, it’s never crashed on my PC (unlike MX2004) ;-)

Phil Gregory on the 14 Sep 2005:

Well, Rachel…I have been waiting patiently for the new version of DW, so i was really excited to see it’s finally been released.

I love the collapsable tags..what a god send.

Not sure about the css backgrounds though. I really do like the fact that you can update your css properly through the css rule definition dialogue.

In DWmx2004 it was a nut ache!

For me its a shame that the PHP provision doesnt seem to have been improved

Travis Chillemi on the 20 Sep 2005:

Been using version 8 for a few days. It does seems snappier. Why can’t there be s checkbox that will tell Dreamwever to place all Javascript into an external file? I’m talking about the built in behaviors. If part of web standards is seprating content, presentation, and behavior, automatically storing the Javascripts in an external file seems like a no-brainer. I guess I’ll have to move them by hand.

Paul Boag on the 08 Oct 2005:

Hi Rachel,
I have read the sample chapters of your Dreamweaver 8 book and have to say I am impressed. It clearly lays out the benefits of web standards while still using the “language of Dreamweaver” that most web designers understand. I was thinking perhaps you might be interested in coming on a podcast I run (www.boagworld.com) to talk about your book. A lot of my listeners are Dremweaver users and have not yet moved across to web standards. I think this would really help them. There is also the added bonus that my podcasts are going to be included on the Practical Web Design Magazine over the next few months. Anyway get in touch if your interested. BTW, always nice to meet another christian web designer ;)

Phil Greg on the 19 Oct 2005:

Rachel, I strill love the blog…more posts please. Did you get chance to read mine. I’m great feedback.

Phil – Tideswell Man

Viktor on the 13 Dec 2005:

I never use Dreamweaver since it generates code I dont want. But I haven’t used it since it were version 4 or something, maybe I should give it a try.

Jim Rockingham on the 03 Feb 2006:

I used to use Microsoft FrontPage, but have recently converted to Dreamweaver after reading your book. Many thanks its much better.

Steve Crow on the 07 Feb 2006:

I have the PC trial version of DW 8 and I notice that I don’t get the chance to select Strict XHTML when you create a new page.

You simply get a checkbox to make the document XHTML compliant but the code it creates is for transitional, not strict. Have you noticed this or am I doing something wrong?

I was able to manually edit the source code to match your example so I assume I am good to go but thought I would ask and what better place than here?

Cheers!

Teacher on the 20 Feb 2006:

I’m using Adobe Golive, i admit that DreamWeaver is more powerful, but i think that Golive is abit more friendly, anyway very soon they would become one product after Adobe-Macromedia merge, hope the new product will take the best of both.

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