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Enjoying Timesaving Contribute Tips

Even the best programs get better when you know how to make the most of them. These tips and tricks can be helpful if you're in a hurry or trying to work more efficiently.

Importing a connection key

If you're working with a good Web site administrator, he or she should send you a Connection key, usually via e-mail, which you can easily import into Contribute to take care of all the connection setup automatically. If you haven't been sent a connection key and you're having trouble connecting to your Web server, make sure you get in touch with your site administrator.

Using sample pages

Macromedia included a variety of sample page designs that you can use to create new pages that already include some formatting. In the Sample Web Pages folder (available in the New Page dialog box every time you create a new page), you find many great starter pages designed to make it quick and easy to create common page styles. Such styles include calendar pages that come preformatted with boxes for days of the month, and resume pages that make it easy to format the sections common on a professional resume. To use these predesigned pages, simply select the design you want as you are creating a new page and Contribute bases the new page on that design.

Creating a new page from a template

Of all the different ways that you can create a new page with Contribute, the ability to use templates designed especially for your Web site in Dreamweaver is the most powerful. Templates enable you to leverage the strength and design skills of your designers and make their work available so that other team members can create new pages more easily.

A template can include all the main design elements of page, such as the logo, navigation bar, and so on, and then include spaces where you can easily add photo new photos or text. Macromedia makes templates even more powerful by including a feature in Dreamweaver that "locks" any part of the design, even when it is used in Contribute. So although you may be able to easily change a photo, you may not be able to change the navigation bar and logo area at all. When you are working with a team of people with different skill levels and experience in Web design, the ability to lock certain sections of a template can save you lots of time, grief and frustration by preventing mistakes.

Adding keywords and descriptions

The Keywords and Description option launches a dialog box where you can enter information you want to make available to search engines. This information is stored in the Meta data of your page (if you don't know what Meta data means, it's information stored at the top of the HTML document, but it doesn't show up on the page that viewer's see.) Keywords and description text are read by most search engines and used to rank your placement when visitors search for keywords. This is an easy step to forget because you don't actually see this text displayed on your page (it's all behind the scenes). That's what makes Contribute's Keywords and Description option so helpful and it's really easy to use, just choose Format --> Keywords and Description and fill out the two text boxes with a brief description of your site and a list of keywords you want to match if someone searches for you.

Adding content from Microsoft Word and Excel

The Insert Microsoft Word and Excel Documents feature enables you to insert the entire contents of a Word or Excel document by simply opening the page within Contribute. The biggest advantage of this feature is that Contribute automatically formats the content to be as close to the original document as possible when it inserts the text and any other elements on your Web page. That means you don't have to recreate the formatting, a definite time saver. To use this feature, open the page you where you want to add the content, or create a new page, and place your cursor where you want the content to be inserted. Then choose Insert --> Microsoft Word Document or Insert --> Microsoft Excel Document and browse to find and select the file you want to add to your page.

Working on multiple Web sites

Many people on work on one Web site, but if you find that you are responsible for making changes to multiple sites, you'll appreciate that Contribute enables you to establish connections to multiple sites and then switch between them so that you can quickly move from working on one project to another. Choose Edit --> My Connections to open the My Connections dialog box where you can set up and manage each connection.

Designing in a Flash

Flash rocks! Macromedia's vector-based design and animation program, Flash, is one of the hottest programs on the Web today because it makes creating fast-loading images and animations that dynamically adjust to fit any screen size. Now that the Flash plug-in is built into most current browsers, Flash has become a standard, and Contribute makes it easy to add Flash files to your Web pages. Choose Insert Flash Movie to launch the Open dialog box and then navigate around your hard drive until you find the Flash file you want to add to your page.

Making Fireworks with your images

If you have little or no experience with creating and editing images, you may find it easier to use Fireworks, an image program Macromedia created especially for Web design, than Adobe Photoshop, the most commonly use image program available. Although both tools do a great job of converting images into GIF and JPEG formats for the Web, Fireworks includes a great wizard that makes it easy to do the conversion, even if you've never used a graphics program before. You can download a fully functional 30-day trial version of Fireworks from the download section of the Macromedia Web Site.

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