Noting What's New in Dreamweaver MX 2004 - dummies

Noting What’s New in Dreamweaver MX 2004

By Janine Warner, Susannah Gardner

All those requests you make to Macromedia, all that wishful thinking. . . believe it or not, they heard you and many of the little — and not so little — things we all have been wanting in this program are finally here in this updated version of Dreamweaver!

The following list provides you a quick overview of some of the new features you find in version MX 2004:

  • The changes to the interface in this version aren’t as dramatic as the changes to the Workspace made in the previous version, Dreamweaver MX, but you find some lovely enhancements.
    Beware that you no longer have the option of using the floating panels interface, the only option in the Dreamweaver versions prior to MX. You now have a choice between the Designer interface, which is graphical and features panels that lock into place, or the HomeSite/Coder-Style, which (as the name suggests) displays the HomeSite text editor. You have the option when you first turn on the program, and you can always make the changes in Preferences. If you choose the Designer interface, you can expand and collapse panels as needed and move them around to create a work environment that suits your preferences. If you’re a code head — someone who prefers working in the raw HTML — choose the HomeSite option, and you find many great features that make writing HTML code easy so you don’t have to type all those tags in manually.
  • The Designer interface is more streamlined and intuitive in its organization in this new version. You also find the interface easier to customize. For example, if you don’t like the Properties inspector at the bottom of the screen, just drag it to the top and it locks into place.
    The Insert bar at the top of the screen is smaller in this version to take up less room in the work area. And, if you want to keep your favorite features handy, select Favorites from the pull-down list and right-click to easily customize the bar to hold your favorite features.
  • Keeping up with the general trend in Web design, Macromedia greatly enhanced support for Cascading Style Sheets. You find many predefined style sheets to get you started and the Dreamweaver graphical interface renders those styles better so you don’t always have to preview your work in a browser to see how it looks. The CSS panel and rules inspector are also improved to provide more options and make creating your entire design with CSS easier.
  • Dreamweaver is finally better suited to handling content from Microsoft Office documents. Now you can copy and paste content from Word and Excel and not lose the formatting. Dreamweaver even makes tables out of Excel spreadsheets.
  • When you open Dreamweaver, you’ll notice a new Start Screen. Anytime you don’t have a file open, this screen reappears, providing quick access to a variety of page formats, premade templates and styles, and recently opened documents.
  • Small, file-like tabs across the top of the work area make moving among open documents easy. In previous versions, the filename of open documents was at the bottom of the work area.
  • No matter what language you speak, you can now work in Dreamweaver thanks to full Unicode support. Even languages that Dreamweaver is not localized for render properly in the work area.
  • Dreamweaver is the best Web design tool for developing sites that work across multiple browsers, and Dreamweaver has great tools for checking your work to ensure that it displays well on the browsers you want to target. Now, those features work in real time thanks to Dynamic Cross Browser Validation. Specify the browsers you want to design for and Dreamweaver checks your work every time you save your pages.
  • Want to crop, resize, or sharpen an image without launching an image editor? Now you can perform these common tasks right in Dreamweaver. You can also adjust brightness and contrast. Look for these new features in the Properties inspector and enjoy saving time on those quick image fixes and edits.
  • You no longer have to use the Dreamweaver Site Setup before you can work on a Web site. If you prefer to just log in to a server and make quick changes or open files on your hard drive without setting up the main folder first, you can skip this previously required step.
    However, if you want to use the Dreamweaver wonderful site management features, which allow you to easily move files and folders without breaking links and automatically fix links if they do get broken, you still want to use Site Setup. But don’t worry, that’s really an easy step, especially with the Dreamweaver Site Setup Wizard.
  • If you build your site with ASP, you will be pleased to find that ASP.NET server controls now include real objects and Properties inspectors. Look for the new ASP.NET tab on the Insert bar.
  • A collection of new templates makes creating complex designs with a click of a button even easier.