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Welcome to Macromedia Contribute 3 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide! Contribute 3 brings a better approach to building Web sites, promising to make life easier for both Web designers and the clients who love them.

The World Wide Web has exploded from the simple sites of its humble beginnings in the mid-1990s, when building Web pages was easy, to today’s large, complex Web sites, which require skilled Web designers to create them and programmers to make the pages work together and allow visitors to interact with the site. As sites have become more complicated, they have also become more fragile; designers and programmers are reluctant to let everyday users make changes and updates to Web sites for fear that minor mistakes will cause major problems.

At the same time, the Web has become a near-ubiquitous way for companies and organizations to get their message out. The irony is that the people who most need to be able to update Web sites quickly must go through their overworked Webmasters to have changes made. In most corporations, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t complain that the Web team is taking too long to add a page, change a bit of text or an image, or make other requested changes.

And you can’t blame the Web team for serving as gatekeepers, because it’s too easy for inexperienced users to mess up the links on a page and break a site.

Macromedia Contribute 3 allows designers to get back to the job of designing sites (rather than maintaining pages) and allows clients to maintain sites (rather than trying to track down the designers to make small changes). Best of all, everyone gets to do his or her job without worrying about breaking the site. With Contribute 3, anyone can safely make changes to Web sites.

Contribute runs on machines running either Windows or Mac operating systems.

What Do You Need?

To use Contribute, your computer needs to meet the following minimum requirements:


  • PC with a 300 MHz Intel Pentium II processor or the equivalent.

  • Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, 2000, or XP (Home or Professional).

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, version 5.0 or higher.

  • At least 128 MB of RAM.

  • At least 120 MB of available disk space.

  • A color monitor capable of 800×600-pixel resolution and able to display 256 colors.

  • One of the following email clients, a requirement for the Contribute email review feature: Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Outlook Express, Qualcomm Eudora, Netscape Communicator, or Lotus Notes.


  • Power Mac G3, G4, or G5, 300 MHz or higher.

  • Mac OS X version 10.2.8 or later, or 10.3.4 or later.

  • At least 128 MB of RAM.

  • At least 120 MB of available disk space.

Both platforms:

  • A connection to the Internet (high-speed access is strongly preferred), or access to a Web server on a local area network (LAN).

As you can see, almost any PC or Macintosh manufactured since 1998 should be able to run Contribute 3 comfortably.

What I Used

The screen shots used in this book were taken on a PC running Windows XP, and a Power Mac G4 running Mac OS X 10.3.4. Screenshots from any supported version of Windows or Mac OS X should look pretty much the same as the figures in the book.

What’s in the Book

I’ve organized the different elements of building Web sites with Contribute 3 into chapters, and within each chapter are step-by-step directions that tell you exactly how to accomplish various tasks. You don’t have to work through the entire book in order, but it is structured so that the more complex material builds on the easier tasks.

Throughout the book I’ve included many tips that will help you get things done faster, better, or both. You’ll also find sidebars (with gray backgrounds) that delve deeper into subjects. Be sure to read the figure captions, too; sometimes you’ll find extra nuggets of information there.

When I’ve listed shortcut keys, I’ve listed both the Windows and Macintosh equivalents, with the Mac keys in parenthesis, like so:

Ctrl-T (Cmd-T)

My Assumptions about You

Writing this book, I made the assumption that you’re familiar with the basics of using Windows and Mac OS X. You don’t need to be a computer expert by any means, but you shouldn’t be stumped by concepts like selecting text, using menus, clicking and dragging, and using files and folders.

If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word and Excel, that will be helpful (especially when you get to Chapter 9, “Working with External Documents”), although it’s not necessary. You should also be familiar with Web surfing and how to use a Web browser to view a Web site.

Even though you’ll be using Contribute 3 to add pages and content to Web sites, you don’t need to be a Web designer, Web programmer, or Web anything. Heck, you don’t even have to be a good typist.

There’s More Help on the Web

I’ve prepared a companion Web site for this book, which you’ll find at:


On this site, you’ll find Contribute 3 news, tips, tricks, and links to other online resources that will help you use Contribute 3 better and more productively. If I discover any mistakes in the book that somehow got through the editing process, I’ll list the updates on the site, too.

Let’s Get Started

Macromedia Contribute 3 is a new kind of software, one that allows people who don’t want to have to deal with HTML, JavaScript, CSS, or any other Web technology to put their Web sites back into their own hands and get their thoughts and work onto the Web. It does this not by bypassing Web professionals but by forging partnerships with them. Contribute 3 offers exciting possibilities for everyone who wants to express themselves on the Web.

So now, on with the book!

Tom Negrino

August 2004

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