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When designing pages it's sometimes extremely helpful to note what you're looking at, or what the properties of an element are without having to resort to using one of the panels that we've been using up 'till now. Dreamweaver has several visual aids that you can use to assist you, when designing your pages with CSS. So with the programs.htm file open from the 06_09 directory, and we're just going to show off some of the visual aids here. Now, I of course had the foresight, because I'm the one writing the tutorial, right? But I'd the foresight to go in and turn all of them off.
So your preview screen may look a little different than mine. I just want show a couple of these visual aids off to you. So in doing that I turned them all off and I'm going to turn them on at a time. So you can see kind of what those things are. Now you'll also notice that I'm in Design view and I'm not in Live view. So I've got Live view turned off and I'm in Design view, so that I can sort of see the visual rendering on the page. Alright, so our visual aids are accessible through a couple different places. You can go upto the menu and go to View. But probably the easiest place to grab them is right here in the Document toolbar. You can see this little pull-down menu with the eye.
I'm going to grab that and I'm just going to start kind of in the bottom and work my way up. Now we have a lot of different Visual Aids, but in terms of CSS Visual Aids, we have pretty much stuff for these guys. Although, I guess you could select AP Elements Outline as being one of those as well. If you do any absolutely positioned element, it'll give you a nice outline around it. So as a matter of fact, you can see that right here, that is an absolute positioned element and that's the outline around it. Okay, I'm going to turn on the CSS Layout Outlines. Now the first thing that that does for you, you are probably used to this view by now. It gives you some dashed (-) lines around the different elements on the page.
So it's very easy for me to tell, when I'm looking at one container element versus another, and as I hover over those lines you'll see that it'll turn red indicating I can select that particular element. So a lot of times when you're dealing with more complex layouts where you have a lot of nested elements inside of elements, this is a really handy thing to turn on, because it makes it very easy to tell kind of who you're hovering over and who you're looking at. The next tool, I want to show you is a Layout Box Model, and it sort of goes hand-in-hand with these layout outlines. You'll notice now, that if I hover over one of these elements, and let's say I selected like this main article.
As soon as I select it, instead of just selecting the element now, I get this sort of these little diagonal lines inside of it. And these diagonal lines are indicating to me, the amount of padding and margins that an element has. If I hover over that area you can see, as a matter of fact, it says Padding: 16 pixels. So the more I go over an element, when I hover over an element, I'm getting some of the box model properties of that specific element. When I go over the contents of that article, I get more information about the article itself, what type of tag it is, what type of box model positioning. In this case, it's Floating to the left. The width of that applied to as well. So that's a, extremely useful feature. The next thing I am going to do, I'm going to go upto my Visual Aid menu again, and I'm going to choose the CSS Layout Backgrounds.
Now, you may find this useful or not, when you turn this on all of your background images and all of your background colors that you've assigned through CSS are going to go away, and what you're going to see, is you're going to see a semi-opaque background that's applied to the elements itself, and it's just kind of letting you know where those regions are. So you can very quickly and easily scan through the page, and tell that these headlines and these two columns are inside of an element. We can also tell that these links are inside their own regions as well.
We can also tell how these regions are being positioned, and the amount of space between them, which is really hard to do when this is turned off. If I turn these back off for example you can see that other then the outlines, I really don't have anything visually letting me know, that info. So it's a very nice quick and easy way to scan it. Now one thing you need to know about that, is as soon as I turn it on, I get a different set of colors every time. So there's a random algorithm that determines what these colors are going to be. So it would be lovely if you're like, hey, every single time you find the element named Info it would give this background color.
But they don't quite work that way. They're really for just sort of a quick visual survey if you will. I'm going to turn those off, and I'm not going to turn this on, but this option Fluid Grid Layout Guides, if you use the new Fluid Grid feature inside Dreamweaver, it's going to give you basically an overlay of columns on your page. When you resize your layout elements, it's going to help you snap to those particular column. So this is very useful if you're using Fluid Grids. Now there's one more feature that I want to show you guys, that's not really one of these contained within the menu. If I go up to View and I turn my Rulers on.
So I'm going to go down towards bottom here to Rulers, and I'm going to tell it to Show. You can see that I get rulers above this. Now this is quite common for anybody that's ever used Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, programs like that. You're used to having those rulers, and if you're used to having those rulers my guess is that you're used to being able to drag guides out from those rulers as I'm doing here, and place them on the page. Now I absolutely love the guides in Dreamweaver. I wish other programs had guides as powerful as Dreamweaver. That sounds like a ridiculous statement to make, but it's true. Notice that as I mouse over these areas, it's snapping right to the edge of those elements, and notice that as I'm dragging out the guide it tells me where I'm at, position-wise, on the page.
So as I drag these guides out, it's telling me exactly where I am and what I'm lining up with. So as I continue to drag these out, you'll notice that I'm getting really precise measurements. Now above and beyond that, check this out. This blows my mind. I love this. If I mouse over an area where I have some guides on the page, and I hold down the Ctrl Key on a PC or the Cmd Key on the Mac, look at that. I get measurements between the guides. Let's say I mouse inside this and turn this on, I can see that the height of these undergraduate degrees, all these links is 24 pixels, and I can see the width of the box, there inside of is 318 pixels.
That is really cool. Again I wish other programs will allow us to do that. Now the one really big downer to using these really cool CSS Visual Aids is that as soon as I go up and turn Live view on, they all go away. So while those ruler guides are amazing, and they're very powerful. Since the Design view does such a poor job of showing you what the layout's actually looking like of the large part, unless you're using extremely simple CSS you probably won't find a whole lot of usage in them. You will find usage out of things like these CSS Layout Elements though in the box model properties.
That's really useful, but unfortunately for the most part I don't use the guides a whole lot, because well, it's not an accurate representation of what my layout's going to be. So while the CSS Visual Aids in Dreamweaver are powerful, that lack of support for them in Live View means they're not as effective as you'd want to them to be when planning and testing your layouts. Thankfully Dreamweaver does have a few more tricks up its sleeve when dealing with Live view and we're going to explore that in our next movie, as we use the CSS Inspect feature.
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