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ATPM 7.05
May 2001

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Review: Dreamweaver 4 Fireworks 4 Studio

by Jamal Ghandour, jghandour@atpm.com

excellent

Developer: Macromedia (product page)

Price: $449; $199 (upgrade)

Requirements: PowerPC-based Mac with Mac OS 8.6, 32 MB available RAM, 800x600 display

Recommended: G3-based Mac with 64 MB of RAM

It is a well-known fact that the Internet sector is important for software companies. Anyone who controls it can nearly have world dominance. If you only imagine what Microsoft was able to do by merely dominating the OS market then, imagine the power that someone will acquire by controlling the Internet technology.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise, that blue-chip companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Macromedia throw out their best artillery to control it. As a result, we have such a large number of Internet tools. Making the right choice of tools has become a difficult and tricky business for anyone. Good luck.

Sometimes, however, software is born with a golden spoon, destined to make an industry standard. Apple’s QuickTime, Macromedia’s Flash, and Adobe’s Photoshop come to mind. Welcome Macromedia’s Dreamweaver to the club; it is a WYSIWYG editor like no other.

Despite the ease with which WYSIWYG editors generate Web pages, they tend to generate sloppy code that makes a large Web site’s maintenance difficult, if not impossible. This is, in fact, the most frequent criticism that WYSIWYG editors have been subject to.

Developers who are not impressed by these editors will have second thoughts with the introduction of Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. This release is aimed at professionals who want to add high-end features to their sites and capitalize on the advancements which new browsers offer. Dreamweaver may well be the first visual authoring tool that successfully combines the flexibility of WYSIWYG with the simultaneous ability to generate a clear and easy-to-edit source code. Dreamweaver also offers high-end features such as Dynamic HTML (DHTML), Cascading Style Sheets, and Layers.

dwfw-workspace

Some of the new Dreamweaver 4.0 features include:

Code View
Use the Code View to access the new integrated Text Editor, or use the new Split View to see both Code and Design views simultaneously. The Code View has new live syntax coloring, tag balancing, and auto indenting.
JavaScript Debugger
Debug client-side JavaScript directly in your browser. The JavaScript Debugger lets you watch JavaScript execute in Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer, helping you understand how each browser implements JavaScript. Debug your code by setting breakpoints and then watching your variables update as you step through the code.
Asset Panel
Track all site media in a central location. Use the new Asset Panel to preview and manage images, colors, external URLs, scripts, Macromedia Flash content, Shockwave content, QuickTime content, templates, and library items.
Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver
Download powerful extensions. The Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver is a centralized location offering everything from Macromedia Flash and Fireworks extensions to search engine extensions. You can also use the exchange to share objects, behaviors, and commands with your team.

Furthermore, Dreamweaver4 Fireworks4 Studio comes with Fireworks (Macromedia’s response to Adobe’s ImageReady). Fireworks basically creates, edits, and animates Web graphics using a complete set of bitmap and vector tools. You can also use export controls to optimize images, give them advanced interactivity, and export them into Macromedia Dreamweaver and other HTML editors.

Some of the new Fireworks 4.0 features include:

Pop-up Menu Creator
Give your site a step-by-step visual environment including sophisticated navigation effects with multilevel pop-up menus.
Drag-and-Drop Rollovers
Create complex rollovers quickly by simply dragging and dropping from one slice to another.
Masking and Layers Panel Enhancements
Navigate and edit files easily using the new Layers panel, which offers both expanded thumbnails of each layer’s objects and advanced masking capabilities.
Refined Photoshop Import and Export
Share Photoshop files freely among teams with improved fidelity, better layer mask handling, and the new Photoshop export feature.
Live Animation
Use accessible controls to reposition, redirect, and reanimate simple animations across multiple frames from within the Fireworks workspace.
Batch Process
Quickly set up and execute batch processes, including commands, with the step-by-step Batch Processing Wizard.
Roundtrip Table Editing with Dreamweaver
Edit and update HTML and JavaScript code and graphics from Dreamweaver while maintaining edits to your table.
Export Controls
Use enhanced setup and export of HTML/JavaScript and images to customize automatic file naming, table handling, and other output options.
dwfw-palettes

The DW4/FW4 Studio is probably the best solution when it comes to Web development. It is rapidly becoming the industry standard.

The whole product is top-notch and I’m having a really hard time finding a downside to the product (well, maybe the fact that the huge amount of features can become overwhelming sometimes). Even the manuals are outstanding and comprehensive. The only reason not to go for DW4 FW4 Studio is if you need it for personal use, then maybe the price is not justified. However, if like me you’re stuck on a 150-page Web site that needs to be finished in a week then don’t blink—just buy it.

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