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Dreamweaver beta launched

Macromedia rolls out a private beta of version 2.0 of its Web-authoring tool, for registered users of the prior version only.

Macromedia tomorrow will launch a private beta of its Dreamweaver Web-authoring tool, version 2.0, for registered users of the prior version only.

The upgrade, which will ship in December for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms, features enhancements in four categories, according to Macromedia:

Page production
In order to speed the Web-authoring process for those working from a graphic mock-up of the page, Dreamweaver 2 lets users put a graphic in the background of the authoring tool and design the page on top of it.

Dreamweaver 2 also offers authors live playback of Macromedia's Flash and Shockwave animation technology, as well as of any Netscape plug-in.

Site-management tools
Dreamweaver's SiteMap presents a visual overview of the site under construction. With version 2.0, users can use SiteMap to move elements around, add new pages, and reorganize the site.

Dreamweaver 2.0 introduces new global search and replace functions. Users can search text, HTML, or text within specified tags, and can perform HTML-aware operations, such as changing background colors.

Version 2.0 also lets users create templates that separate content from design. This feature lets a designer mark certain regions of the site--such as content areas--as editable, while other parts of the site remain fixed.

Dynamic publishing
The new Dreamweaver lets authors view and test the site as they design it, whereas with current Web-authoring tools, it is necessary to view changes in a browser. Macromedia calls the new functionality "What You See is What You Serve," or WYSIWYS (after the more common acronym WYSISYG.

Aiming at the lucrative e-commerce market, Macromedia has introduced support in Dreamweaver 2.0 for a number of database products that let Web stores update information automatically. These include Microsoft's ActiveServer Pages, Oracle's 8i database, and Allaire's ColdFusion.

Version 2.0 also will include support for Hewlett-Packard's OpenPix image server for zoomable images, IBM's Hotmedia series of technologies for e-commerce media, and Real's technology for streaming audio and video to e-commerce sites.

Editing, rendering, and browser support
For Web authors that like to get under the hood, Dreamweaver 2.0 lets users edit and apply source formatting to code created by and imported from another authoring tool.

Dreamweaver 2.0 supports XML.

Macromedia also has improved cross-browser support. The tool will write separately to serve the various versions of Netscape's Navigator browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, including IE 5, which was released in beta this week.

Dreamweaver 2.0 will cost $299 for Windows 95 or 98, Windows NT 4.0 or later, and MacOS 7.5.5 or later. Upgrades from prior versions cost $129. Macromedia will throw in Fireworks, a Web graphics production tool, for $99 through February 28.