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Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 review: Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

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The Good Adobe Dreamweaver CS3's interface will be familiar to users of previous versions; improved CSS capabilities; good integration with other CS3 applications; universal binary for both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs.

The Bad Dreamweaver CS3's Spry framework features should be tested for compatibility; browser compatibility check requires an Internet connection; update is not a groundbreaking move forward; lack of intuitive design spells woe for Web design newbies.

The Bottom Line Dreamweaver CS3's universal binary alone could make the upgrade worthwhile for some users, and improved CSS plus new Spry features will be welcome to pros, but that's not a lot of advances for the steep price.

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7.8 Overall
  • Setup 7
  • Features 8
  • Support 7

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 is the first rollout of this Web design application since Adobe acquired Macromedia. In addition to universal binary support for Mac users, Dreamweaver adds more help for coding with CSS and Ajax, as well as extended Photoshop integration.

Two years ago, our installation of Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 took only several minutes. This year, however, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 took 21 minutes to install on a dual-core Power Mac G5, and closer to 15 minutes on a Windows XP machine. In addition, installation required us to quit all open browsers and, strangely, even Microsoft Word. We should note that with our G5, Dreamweaver CS3 uses Adobe's custom installer application rather than the Mac-standard method of dragging and dropping. You'll also have to deal with an activation process--designed to stop bootleggers in their tracks--before you run the application.

The overall interface should be largely familiar to longtime Dreamweaver users. This Web site layout application serves more Mac users, too.

Once installation is complete, Dreamweaver CS3 greets you with a face that looks more like the work of Adobe but will be familiar to users of previous versions. There are some new, dockable palettes to accommodate new features, but the Welcome screen, toolbars, and main window are largely unchanged.

Perhaps the most significant new feature to Dreamweaver CS3 is invisible to users. This is the first universal binary version of the program, which means that it will run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. Newer Macs won't have to rely on OS X's Rosetta emulation environment, so owners of newer Macs should see a performance boost.

Visible new features include improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), with a large array of templates and new tools that help users to manage styles. This makes it easy to reorder and rename styles, as well as to move them to other style sheets. This should be a timesaver for serious Web professionals. Also helpful is how Adobe has packed the provided CSS code with comments, such as explanations of how utilized CSS elements work or how to work around myriad ways Internet Explorer fails to properly render even well-made Web pages. And Adobe Device Central helpfully previews how your designs are likely to appear and operate on various handheld gadgets.

The New Document window offers useful choices of blank pages and templates.

Dreamweaver CS3 gets improved integration with Adobe applications such as Photoshop CS3. Instead of having to perform a complex sequence of steps, you can drag a Photoshop file directly to Dreamweaver CS3, which can handle various save-for-Web tasks; you can also select and copy any area of a Photoshop image, complete with layers, and paste that area into Dreamweaver CS3. And if you double-click on the image, Photoshop opens (faster than it did before the Adobe-Macromedia merger) so you can edit the original. As in the past, Dreamweaver plays well with Fireworks for prototypes and with Flash animation.

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