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Dreamweaver: A Visual Tool for Serious Web Coders
Furthermore, you can control HTML formatting under Edit->Preferences->Code Format. These preferences allow precise control over indentation (using either tabs or spaces), line wrapping, and line breaks. You can specify the case for HTML tags, such as
Still not convinced Dreamweaver is useful? Take a look at the
You might write Dreamweaver extensions to share with other developers on your team, or you might want to upload them to the Exchange. The Extension Manager application (included with Dreamweaver) lets you package extensions for uploading. It also lets you install extensions you've downloaded from the Dreamweaver Exchange. If you are uploading your own extensions, Macromedia offers extensive documentation for testing your extension and complying with their UI guidelines (Macromedia will "certify" compliant extensions).
Dreamweaver's architecture for downloading and installing an extension is controlled via an .mxi file, as documented in The Macromedia Extension Installation File Format.
Using an .mxi file, you can instruct Dreamweaver to make your extension accessible via one or more menus or the Objects panel. For example, if you extension inserts a new asset type, such as a QuickTime movie, you might add it to the Special category of the Objects panel. Although an .mxi file will handle the mechanics for you, this panel serves as another good illustration of Dreamweaver's extensibility. The appearance of the Objects panel is controlled by the files in the
XML Import and Export
So we've seen that Dreamweaver is both configurable and extensible. But does it play nice with open standards like XML? Dreamweaver includes a Templates feature that lets you define a document template and editable regions within it. This is naturally akin to an XML structure, which separates a document's format definition from the data within it. Therefore, you can export a Dreamweaver template in XML format and you can import an XML document to act as a Dreamweaver Template using the File->Export as XML and File->Import XML commands.
Dreamweaver itself isn't geared towards heavily data-driven Web sites. If you expect to use a back-end database or extensive server-side scripting, you'll want to look into Dreamweaver UltraDev. Fortunately, UltraDev is a superset of the basic Dreamweaver application, so everything you've learned about Dreamweaver applies equally to UltraDev. (UltraDev adds Data Bindings and Server-Side Behaviors panels to Dreamweaver, but it is otherwise 95 percent identical.)
Dreamweaver improves the productivity of both people who develop visually and those who prefer to work directly in Code view. We've barely scratched the surface of what Dreamweaver can do and how to do it. All the topics mentioned here are discussed in greater detail in Dreamweaver in a Nutshell. I hope that I've exposed you to enough of Dreamweaver to motivate you to investigate it further. A free 30-day trial can be downloaded from Macromedia. Best of luck in all your Web development.
Bruce A. Epstein is the author of Director in a Nutshell and Lingo in a Nutshell, the coauthor of Dreamweaver in a Nutshell and the editor of ActionScript: The Definitive Guide.