Join James Williamson for an in-depth discussion in this video What is Dreamweaver?, part of Dreamweaver CS4 Getting Started.
If you have ever done any type of web design or web development, chances are you have heard of Dreamweaver. If you haven't or if you are just getting started, you may be wondering what's Dreamweaver all about anyway? Well, Dreamweaver is the industry standard web design and development tool. It creates standards compliant XHTML and CSS and is integrated with almost every web technology and standard you can think of. HTML, PHP, ColdFusion, ASP, ASP.NET, XML and XSLT. Those are just a few of the file types Dreamweaver can generate. Strictly speaking, it can handle almost every web design task you throw at it.
Now, that sounds complicated, right? Well, that's the best thing about Dreamweaver. It does all this while simplifying the process for the designer or the developer. Creating a page, for example, can be done in a single click, with all the code generated for you. So here we have a welcome screen, and I am just going to click on the Create New HTML, and just like that I have a brand new page. Now, it's always a good idea to go ahead and save your page, so I am going to go ahead and save this. I will just save it as index.htm, and this will be more or less my home page. Now, I am going to switch over and take a look at the code that was generated.
Notice how the document type declaration was automatically generated based on my preferences, so that was something that I didn't have to worry about. Dreamweaver lets us switch back and forth between this Code View and a WYZYWYG view of your page. So if you are the type of individual that's really comfortable coding, you could be in this environment and code all day long. If you are not familiar with coding and you just sort of want to ease your way into it, we also have this Design View that shows you the page as it would be in the browser. We have a Split View that shows us both the Code and the Design View at the same time, and this is a really good way to learn or for more complex layout to select items on the page.
Now, once you do have content on the page, it's very easy to structure and declare. So I am going to go ahead and type in a heading, and after that I will type in a paragraph. Now, right now, they don't look any different. Here we have our heading, here we have our paragraph. But what makes them different in HTML is the structure of them. So if I click inside my heading, I can go down to my Properties inspector, click on the HTML tab and tell it, "No, I don't want a paragraph there, I would like a heading," and I do have heading. If I switch to this Split View, notice that the heading is contained with an h1 tag, the paragraph is contained with a p tag, and again, Dreamweaver did all of this for me.
Placing images on your page is as simple as dragging and dropping. So if I create a little empty space here, and I want to put an image between the two of these, I can go right over to my Assets folder, find an image that I liked and literally just drag and drop it onto the page. Notice how Dreamweaver is making sure that I meet accessibility standards for my site. It's asking for some alternative text for my image. So I am just going to type in board, and boom, there is my image on the page. Now, formatting your page will be done through cascading style sheets and that's the standard way of controlling presentation on the web. If you have never worked with CSS before, you can see how Dreamweaver's workflow is designed to step you through the process and help you create your styles.
So if I click inside my heading, and I maybe want that to look a little bit different than the default heading in a browser. I can come down to my Properties inspector and click on the CSS Properties. Now here, since I don't have any rules yet, I can click to create a brand new one, and I could choose to create a lot of different types of rules. Dreamweaver supports all manner of CSS workflow. It's a very intelligent process. It knows I am inside of heading tag, so when I tel it that I want to redefine a tag, it says "Oh, you must want to define an h1 tag." So when I click OK, I get a whole set of categories of rules that I can change.
I am just go into the Type one and let's change my font. So we will change that to Arial. Maybe change the size, 1.2 em, and maybe change the color to a burgundy or garnet color. And I click OK and it reformats. Now, to make sure your page looks the way you want it to, Dreamweaver will Preview your page in a browser. So although we can see it in this sort of WYZYWYG view, we still don't know exactly how it's going to look in a browser. Now, what's really great about this is that Dreamweaver allows you to set up any browser you have installed on your computer for previewing, making it simple to preview your site across multiple browsers.
So I am going to go ahead and preview this in one of my browsers. As soon as I do, I can see how my web design would look if it were online. Now, speaking of getting it online, at this point I can use Dreamweaver to upload my finished page to my website with a single click, making it live online. I can do that by, again, going back up to the document toolbar and using a Put command and that would upload it to my remote web server. Now, after just a little experimenting it's easy to see why Dreamweaver has become the most popular web design tool available. Regardless of the type of site you're needing to create, Dreamweaver offers you the tools to get the job done quickly, efficiently, while generating rock solid code.
- Defining and structuring new sites
- Adding and styling text, images, video, Flash, and more
- Previewing work in progress using multiple browsers
- Integrating assets from other CS4 applications
- Uploading and managing finished sites