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Detailed Description and Review

Dreamweaver MX 4 out of 5 stars

Windows Software Mac Software Macromedia

software box cover [pc and mac] Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX is the choice of the vast majority of web designers. Macromedia have continued to drive their flagship product Dreamweaver through a demanding programme of upgrades and improvements that have eventually led to this outstanding development tool.

System Requirements


Pentium II 300 MHz or faster processor
Microsoft Windows 98, NT 4.0, 2000, Me, or XP
96 MB RAM (128 MB recommended)
275 MB hard disk space
CD-ROM drive
256-color display with 800 x 600 resolution
Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer 4.0 or later


Power Mac G3 or better
Mac OS 9.1 and higher, or OSX 10.1 and higher
Adobe Type Manager Version 4 or later for use with Type 1 fonts (OS9.x)
CarbonLib version 1.3 or later required on Mac OS 9
Dreamweaver requires Mac OS Runtime for Java (MRJ) 2.2 or above on Mac OS 9 (included on Macromedia MX CD)

Detailed Description

Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX is a topflight Web editor for dynamic sites as well as static pages. Dreamweaver's excellent visual tools generate code that works across all the leading Web browsers, winning it the respect of professionals. Its availability on the Mac as well as Windows is another strong feature for designers. The product is also extensible, with a huge range of third-party add-ons available from Macromedia's Web site, many of them free of charge. There is great support for Internet standards, including cascading style sheets, XHTML, and accessibility features. Built-in validating mechanisms make it easy to check a page, and everything is highly configurable so you can specify the standards you want to support.

This is a visual editor, which means you can create and edit a Web page by selecting items such as tables, forms, and images from a tabbed palette. The Properties panel lets you specify details such as borders, styles, and hyperlinks, and you can also use the visual editor for frames and layers. Many designers also like to edit the underlying HTML, and this is where Dreamweaver MX comes into its own. It supports either a pure code view or a split view that lets you click seamlessly between the code and visual editors. A lot of the features previously found in HomeSite, Macromedia's text-based Web editor, are now integrated into Dreamweaver, including pop-up code hints, a snippets panel that lets you keep handy pieces of code for reuse, and a tag chooser that lets you grab the right tag from a list. An O'Reilly tag reference is built in.

Dreamweaver's template support deserves special mention. Templates give you a quick start with a number of predesigned pages. In Dreamweaver MX, they can also be used to lock down areas of the page, so that contributors can create and edit a story without disturbing the design. Templates can be nested so that changes to an underlying template ripple through the pages that use it for powerful site-wide updates.

Macromedia used to market a product called Dreamweaver UltraDev, which allowed for rapid development of Web applications featuring online databases, member login, and other server-side elements. In Dreamweaver MX, this capability is built in. It has also been extended, adding support for ASP.NET and PHP as well as ColdFusion, JavaServer pages, and traditional ASP. Nonspecialists will find themselves able to build rich dynamic pages, while the integrated code editor makes this a capable development product as well. In fact, Dreamweaver MX has also replaced ColdFusion Studio as the primary development tool for ColdFusion MX. It is a uniquely flexible package.

Overall, it's hard to find fault with Dreamweaver MX. It's true that its complexity and professional features make it harder to pick up than some rival products. The abundance of panels and options can be confusing, and a high-resolution screen is required. In addition, the Studio MX products, which include Dreamweaver, are a better value for those who need more than one of the MX series. However, this takes nothing away from the excellence of Dreamweaver as the first-choice tool for professionals.

Tim Anderson, Amazon

AbleStable® Review
4 out of 5 stars

Syndication Licensees Only Using This Content

Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX is the choice of the vast majority of web designers. Macromedia have continued to drive their flagship product Dreamweaver through a demanding programme of upgrades and improvements that have eventually led to this outstanding development tool.

Although the newcomer might be somewhat dazed by the huge array of configuration and feature options, the interface is a model of good design, and investing some time in getting to grips with the power of this development giant bears great fruits. From a simple web site to the biggest database commerce monolith on the planet, Dreamweaver MX is up to the job.

In common with many Macromedia products, Dreamweaver MX has a very large and vibrant user community. This is a distinct advantage as it encourages the constant improvement and updating of the software interface, and provides a multitude of additional support resources for designers. In particular the Macromedia Dreamweaver Exchange allows users to freely download many hundreds of highly useful extensions that integrate into the Dreamweaver environment to further expand its functionality.

A word of warning about using Macromedia extensions: always ensure the extension is usable under the current MX environment as some extensions are built for earlier versions and cause problems which persist despite uninstalling and reinstalling the software. Not that these problems will affect the overall performance of your computer, but they will prevent the effective use of Dreamweaver MX without reformatting your hard drive (we've had personal experience of this and Macromedia support were unable to offer a suitable workaround)!

The complex and vast nature of Dreamweaver MX means that for small site owners who run static sites like a creative professional's online portfolio, Dreamweaver MX might be choosing a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The software is also priced for professional web designers and comes at a relatively high price as compared with an excellent text-based editor like Top Style Pro, or the freeware First Page 2000.

Be aware Macromedia Dreamweaver does not support some FTP functionality. If you are going to implement CGI on your site then you'll require a separate FTP program like Smart FTP from (we've found this to be the best by far). The FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program is an application to transfer files from a local folder to your server. You will also require a basic text editor like Windows Notepad which will allow you to configure the CGI program which is a text file ending with .pl (Perl) or .cgi.

One final word of advice is a general principle that you should always bear in mind when choosing a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web editor. Generally speaking, and this goes for Dreamweaver MX as well as any other development tool that purports to show you what you'll get in a browser, don't assume what you see in the editor preview window is what will appear on the published page. Constantly check your designs by viewing them on a range of browsers (at least Internet Explorer and Netscape), and if possible a PC and Mac. You might also consider acquiring CSE HTML Validator which provides considerable help in the assessment of good underlying code.

If you require the best web site development tool for visual designers you've just found it, but ready yourself for a steep learning curve if you've not had experience with Dreamweaver before.

Review by AbleStable®

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