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To get the most out of Dreamweaver CS4, it's important not only to master the application, but also to understand fundamental concepts of modern web design. James Williamson teaches just that in Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training, covering everything from site structure to the value of standards-compliant XHTML and CSS. He shows how to create clean and accessible code in Dreamweaver, as well as how to publish compelling content. James demonstrates how to use a variety of techniques for adding interactivity, creating and styling forms and tables, and saving time with templates. He explains the benefits of using programs like Word and Photoshop to speed up workflow, and shows how to publish and manage finished sites. Exercise files accompany the course.
If you're brand new to web design and brand new to Dreamweaver, you are probably eager to open it up and get started. However, before we start using Dreamweaver, it's important to go over some of the more fundamental concepts and best practices of web design. That way, you ensure that you're using Dreamweaver correctly and that you understand why Dreamweaver operates the way it does when building websites. The first concept I want to discuss is basic site structure. To those new to websites, the thought of creating an entire website can sometimes be intimidating. The truth of the matter is that most websites are in fact, quite simple. Websites at their core are merely a collection of files and folders, just like any other project on your computer.
Although, every website is different, some standards have emerged when structuring your site. They can help keep your site organized and running smoothly. To create your website, you'll first need a folder on your hard drive to put it in. This folder is referred to as the root folder and later when you define your site, this is the folder that you'll point Dreamweaver towards. Inside the root folder you'll structure your files and folders, based on how they need to appear online. If you have a small site for example, all your HTML files might go right into the root directory. As your site gets larger or more complex, it's not uncommon to create subdirectories to create more structure within your site. You can easily see the structure when browsing online.
If we go to lynda.com for example and look at the About Us portion of the website, we can see that the URL is lynda.com/aboutus/mission.asp. This means that inside the root directory, there is a folder named About Us and inside that folder, there is file named mission.asp. In addition to structuring pages this way, most web designers will place site assets into their own folders as well. It's a good way to organize the site and make additional assets easier to find. Images, CSS, external scripts, videos and other assets are routinely placed within their folders.
For our groundswell site, our assets also have an underscore placed in front of the folder name. This helps to move these asset folders to the top of the any directory structure and makes it easier to identify them as assets rather than mistaking them for subdirectories.
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