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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.
Before working on any web site for the first time, you should define a site in Dreamweaver that will allow you control all aspects of working with that site. Dreamweaver is designed to build web sites, not just web pages. Site management is tied into everything that Dreamweaver does. Without defining a site, Dreamweaver can't resolve links, check related files or help you manage your assets. Although there are lot of options when defining your sites and you could make it relatively pain-free. Now the first thing I want to show you is how many different places in Dreamweaver, you can actually define a new site.
If you go over the Files panel, for example, you can click on Manage Sites, and it will show you any of your active sites. If you don't have any or even if you just want to create a new one from here, notice we have a button that says New and you can go ahead and choose that. If I go up to the menu, I have Site and here is New Site right from there. And if I go over to the Application tool bar, I notice that in my quick access icons, I can click on Site and I can choose New Site from there as well. Another location is in our Welcome screen, so if we don't have a file currently open and our Welcome Screen is visible, notice that we can go down to Create New, and click on Dreamweaver Site. So it doesn't really matter where you do this from, you'll always get the same dialog box. So I'm going to click new Dreamweaver Site, and up comes my Site Definition dialog box. Now this comes in two tabs, we have Basic and Advanced, both of these give you pretty much the same options, Advanced does have some options that Basic doesn't have.
Basic is more of a wizard like approach. It's just going to ask you some questions, and sort of walk you through the process. So here it says What would you like to name your site? I'm going to name my site Groundswell, now after that it says What is the HTTP Address of your site? And I don't know that, well a lot of what you're doing when you define a site is optional. Now let's take a look at some of our other options and let's switch from the Basic tab to the Advanced tab. Even though I was already entering up some information, you'll notice that by clicking on the Advanced tab, it went ahead and filled that in for me, so it just says Groundswell right there. Now the first thing that Dreamweaver wants to know in the Advanced section after you name your site is where the Local root folder is. So if you remember the root folder is the folder that contains your web site somewhere on your hard drive or if your are working in a shared environment, it might even be on a server.
So I'm going to click the Browse icon, just beside Local root folder and I'm going to browse out to my Desktop and here I can find the Chapter 03 folder that I have copied over to the Desktop, so that was copied from my Exercise Files. So, I'm going to double-click to select that. On the Mac, you'll highlight that folder and you'll hit the Choose button, on the PC, open the folder up and then choose Select. Okay now, from here on everything else is optional. Default images folder, optional, whether I want to make Links relative to Document or Site root, the default is Document, I'm going to leave it that way. HTTP address, I don't know, so I'm not going to enter it. Caching, I'm going to make sure Caching is enabled. Now what that does for you is it will run through all the files that are already in that folder. So if it's a totally empty folder, this won't matter but if your folder already has some files then like ours does, it will cache them up and make everything available for use right now.
Believe it or not, that's it. All those of the Categories on the left hand side like Remote Info, where you're choosing exactly how you're going to access your remote site, and upload those files, Testing Server, in case you're using ColdFusion or ASP and you want to specify Testing Server so that you can test those pages, all those things, they are optional, and since we don't have that information right now, we are not going to put anything. We are just going to leave them alone. Sticking with the Local Info, I have named my site Groundswell and I have chosen where my Local root folder is on my Hard drive. That is really all I have to do, I'm going ahead and click OK. Dreamweaver is going to take a moment to cache everything up for me and then over in the Files panel now I can see here's my Groundswell site and I have access to all those files and folders.
As you can see, defining a site in Dreamweaver an easy but necessary step required for the start of any new project. You can give Dreamweaver all the site information at the very beginning of the project, or as we have done here, you can wait and define things like Remote Information at a later date. That's certainly helpful if you don't have those settings when you're first starting out.
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