Dreamweaver MX 2004
Microsoft ramps up the feature set
Review by urban75 for Internet Magazine, May 2004
Firmly ensconced in Macromedia's world-dominating StudioMX suite, Dreamweaver MX2004 sports all the sleek new looks of its partner applications, with a new 'start' screen offering access to recently opened files, sample templates and a wide range of document formats.
As ever, Dreamweaver serves up a comprehensive set of features, reaching beyond HTML to offer support for a huge range of data driven technologies such as ASP, PHP, JSP, .NET and ColdFusion.
This new version embraces CSS like a long lost brother - die hard coders hanging on to their outdated <font> tags will have to use the code view, as Dreamweaver defaults to style sheets for all new documents.
The new CSS Inspector Panel makes it easy to create and edit stylesheets. Double clicking on a style in the design or code view will automatically take you to the relevant CSS code, or open the external linked stylesheet. Any edits you make here will be updated instantly, so it's easy to experiment with different settings.
Cross-browser support for style sheets can be notoriously flaky, so authors will welcome the built in validation tools which can check HTML tags and CSS rules against all the main browsers and report back any errors.
Dreamweaver's build in code editor provides more than enough options for hand coders, but hairshirt, hardcore HTMLers will be pleased to see the excellent Homesite + bundled with the package.
One click, round-trip support is included for Flash and Fireworks files, with edits being automatically updated in the Dreamweaver design view. The program can also generate Flash based text and rollover buttons using an easy-peasy wizard.
If you're working in a group environment, you can create 'locked' regions of pages to stop any unwanted artistic interpretations of your navigation bar, while Dreamweaver's 'Check In/Check Out' and 'Design Notes' features will keep things running smoothly.
Dreamweaver now boasts a built in secure FTP client, which will fully encrypt all file transfers and prevent unauthorised access to your data, file contents, usernames, and passwords.
Although this latest upgrade offers no ground-breaking improvements over previous versions, Dreamweaver's sleek and powerful visual interface is still streets ahead of its competitor. Add to that a powerful suite of hand coding editing tolls and support for a hug range of technologies and it's easy to see why the program remains the Market leader.
Shame about the price though.