Macromedia Dreamweaver 8.0 review: Macromedia Dreamweaver 8.0

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MSRP: $199.00

The Good Easier XML and CSS integration; rollovers and collapsible code views; background file transfers; better preview rendering.

The Bad Web-design novices might find this tool hard to use without first getting schooled on its features; some small interface quirks haven't been fixed.

The Bottom Line Faster, easier to use, and more powerful than the previous version, Dreamweaver 8 is a worthy upgrade for professionals, but amateurs should stick with a less complicated app, such as HomeSite.

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7.7 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Support 7

Dreamweaver 8

Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 is a sophisticated Web design app that best serves professionals incorporating multimedia elements and database-driven content into their sites. The interface of this compelling update is complex yet well organized, alleviating most of our complaints about its predecessor. For example, interface enhancements allow you to zoom in for detailed page views, ruler guides make it easier to measure elements within a page, sections of code are now collapsible, and nesting and color-coding make CSS elements simpler to identify. Dreamweaver 8 also allows you to drag and drop syndicated XML feeds. But not everyone will need everything that's in Dreamweaver; amateur site designers should stick with simpler software, such as HomeSite or Microsoft FrontPage. Adobe pros should consider GoLive CS2, which integrates well with the Adobe Creative Suite 2. Still, the low $199 upgrade fee of Dreamweaver 8 makes the decision a no-brainer for current professional users of Dreamweaver MX 2004 or earlier editions. You can also buy Dreamweaver 8 bundled with the $999 Macromedia Studio 8, a $399 upgrade for existing Studio owners.

Even though it's a large program, Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 took only minutes to install. Once installed, Macromedia Dreamweaver 8's interface resembles that of MX 2004. On hand are the same familiar design and code layouts in the right-hand work space, as well as the left-side tool palettes and the bottom Properties box. However, subtle but welcome changes begin to surface once you dig into this program. To start, unlike with previous versions of Dreamweaver, you're not stuck with the default layout. Within the interface, it's possible to drag and arrange windows or save and load customized layouts through the Window menu. Dreamweaver 8 also introduces tabbed file browsing to its Mac edition.

Dreamweaver's start-up screen provides extensive choices for creating and opening Web pages.

Don't know where to start? Wizards within Dreamweaver walk you through starting either a Basic or an Advanced Web site from scratch. While the Web savvy will find this process breezy, design newbies might get confused even by the Basic queries, starting with a question about server technology.

After using Dreamweaver 8, we noticed numerous work flow improvements. If you're a coder, the new formatting toolbar and the collapsible code are a real boon, allowing you to show and hide select sections of HTML and other code. This tweak allows for much faster navigation than in Dreamweaver MX 2004, and it allows you to get an overview of a large project. The collapsible function isn't intuitive, however; you must select the code you want to collapse instead of just highlighting the head of the section.

Dreamweaver 8 lets you zoom in to magnify a page up to 6,400 percent.

Design View now allows you to zoom into a page for a close-up view. And alignment guides from the rulers at the edge of the screen let you position elements with precision. A new hand tool lets you rearrange objects without having to grab their thin borders. Dreamweaver 8 now groups Cascading Style Sheet functions on their own panel for easier access, with color-coded and nested views of divs.

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