Dreamweaver 8 reviewed

As anybody who listened to my last podcast will know, I was incredibly excited about the arrival of Dreamweaver 8. However, was my childlike delight justified? Did Dreamweaver 8 live up to my expectations?

The short answer is, yes it did. Of course, that does not make much of a blog entry, so here are my top five reasons why Dreamweaver 8 kicks ass:

Number five: Design extras

Coming in at number five, are the variety of design tools that have been added to this release. It is now possible to add guides and use rules just like you would in Adobe Photoshop. You can even zoom in on your page for pixel perfect detail.

Of course, nothing is perfect. The guides were sometimes hard to place accurately and no matter how well Dreawmeaver’s render engine is it cannot take into account every browser. So using design tools cannot guarantee pixel perfect rendering for those viewing your site.

Number four: A better CSS palette

Nobody likes change, and when I first saw the new CSS palette, I was not sure I liked it. However, overtime it began to grow on me. Eventually I found it much more powerful, allowing me to quickly identify a particular CSS style that was controlling the design element I wanted to edit.

Number three: An improved coding environment

Sneaking into my top three were the improvements to the coding window. In the past, I think it was fair to say that Dreamweaver was perceived as being a designer’s tool. Its coding environment was always basic, with none of the features you have come to expect from other HTML coding products.

However, this new release has brought some dramatic improvements. It is now possible to collapse tags or even selected areas of code. You can easily find parent tags, comment out code, and highlight invalid code. Combine this with the ability to click on an item in the WYSIWYG window and jump directly to the associated place in the code, now puts Dreamweaver ahead of many pure coding applications.

Number Two: You can work with XML

Being the geek that I am, my second favourite feature of the new Dreamweaver was the ability to work with XML sources such as RSS feeds. I am finding Headscape doing more and more work with XML and it is nice to work with this natively in Dreamweaver.

However, I have to say this is not for the inexperienced user. I was hoping for a slicker solution where XML was handled in much the same way as any other data source. Unfortunately you need to learn a whole new way of working (if your not already familiar with XML) involving data sources, XSL templates and Transformers.

That said, at least the functionality is now available.

Number one: It renders web standards code

Without a doubt, my number one reason for being passionately in love with Dreamweaver 8 is the improvements to the render engine.

As anybody who reads this blog or listens to my podcast will know, I am an evangelist for building with web standards. All of the design I develop these days use tableless design. However, the problem has always been that Dreamweaver would make a complete hash of showing the design in its WYSIWYG editor. This was a huge problem as many of my clients relied on the WYSIWYG even if I chose to hand code. We often receive briefs that make Dreamweaver compatibility a requirement. Thankfully, now at last, it can be without a load of unnecessary hacks!

What do you think?

Okay, so that’s what I think of the new Dreamweaver 8. I would love to hear what you think of it. Post a comment!

  • http://www.davidloop.com/blog dloop

    screenshots!

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    I take it you are after screenshots. To be honest you can get all of that from the Macromedia site or you can do one better and download the 30 free demo so you can see for yourself :)

  • http://www.logohere.co.uk/blog/blog.htm Andy Saxton

    Paul,
    I agree with you about Dreamweaver 8. You may have seen the discussion about it over at the Accessify forum? I know you have posted there in the past (Which is how i found you podcast in the first place)
    Like i said there, the rendering engine is mch improved and o its not 100% perfect but neither is IE, Firefox or any other browser you would care to mention…And there browsers.
    I have also come across the same problems when building sites that need to be updated (by non techies) using Contribute.
    If I had a pound for every time I have had to say “dont worry about how it looks in Dreamweaver, when it’s in the browser it will be fine” then I would be retired now.
    It’s takes a leap of faith from the users to trust that you are not telling them a lie; As they either think that they dont want to be responsible for “breaking” the website or think that you don’t know what you are doing because your code looks funny in Dreamweaver / IE and therefore you must have done it wrong.
    I am loving the podcast btw, Keep up the good work.
    Cheers,
    Andy

  • http://www.logohere.co.uk/blog/blog.htm Andy Saxton

    Please excuse the spelling and grammer errors, seems that I couldn’t be arsed to read it through properly.
    Must try harder

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    Hell your spelling and grammar cant be half as bad as that found in my blog!

  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/webdevdesign Chris

    I hope “developers” too good for DW finally take their head out of their arses and enjoy what we have for over 6 years!

  • Carl Grint

    I am surprised your say that “ability to click on an item in the WYSIWYG window and jump directly to the associated place in the code” is new to v8, that has been there for a while…although my Trial version of v8, actually no longer provides this, I select something in Design view and then select Code view…and it goes where it wants.! :o(
    My honest view of v8 is, its nice, its what MX04 should have been…and I can’t justify the £200 upgrade price for fixing problems they built into MX04…which is a shame, as I thinnk v8 is a good product….just not a priced upgrade.

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    Sorry you misunderstood me about the whole “jumping to the code” thing. I should have made myself clearer. I meant that this existing feature COMBINED WITH the new coding features of Dreawmeaver 8 made it more appealing to me as a coding environment.
    Thats strange that it doesnt seem to work in that way for you. It is ok for me :-s

  • Carl Grint

    I see, sorry for my misunderstanding of your point regarding the ‘jumping to code’.
    I was myself suprised to find my trial of v8 actually was worse in this area then in MX04, it keeps going to the area where the recordset code resides…which was very annoying..alone if I selected the half code/hald design mode would it work.
    One bonus with v8 was the fact it did not crash with memory errors, which MX04 does for me ever since moving to Windows XP earlier his year…should £200 become available to me…then I will upgrade, just to have a stable version of Dreamweaver…although makes you resent the cost when you have to do it, just to make the software work on an OS several years out on release.

  • Ed

    You can get another review of Dreamweaver from Sitepoint. It is rather long though!

  • http://www.breslauconsulting.com Tom

    I’m starting to create my website. I googled podcsts about dreamweaver and your podcast came up. After 2 days of listening to all the up to date podcasts I find you to be very informative and helpful keep up the solid work.

  • http://www.boagworld.com Paul Boag

    Hi Tom,
    glad you found it useful. Personally I love Dreamweaver 8 and think its a real improvement especially for somebody that codes by hand and builds using web standards.

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