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Introduction > About This Book

About This Book

Despite the many improvements in software over the years, one feature has grown consistently worse: documentation. With the purchase of most software programs these days, you don't get a single page of printed instructions. To learn about the hundreds of features in a program, you're expected to use online electronic help.

Until version 4, in fact, Dreamweaver still came with a printed manual. With MX, however, all you get is a Getting Started booklet. You'll find the real information only in the program's online help screens.

But even if you're comfortable reading a help screen in one window as you try to work in another, something is still missing. At times, the terse electronic help screens assume you already understand the discussion at hand, and hurriedly skip over important topics that require an in-depth presentation. In addition, you don't always get an objective evaluation of the program's features. (Engineers often add technically sophisticated features to a program because they can, not because you need them.) You shouldn't have to waste your time learning features that don't help you get your work done.

The purpose of this book, then, is to serve as the manual that should have been in the box. In this book's pages, you'll find step-by-step instructions for using every Dreamweaver feature, including those you may not even have quite understood, let alone mastered, such as Libraries, Layout view, Behaviors, and Dreamweaver's dynamic Web site tools. In addition, you'll find clear evaluations of each feature that help you determine which ones are useful to you, as well as how and when to use them.

Dreamweaver MX: The Missing Manual is designed to accommodate readers at every technical level. The primary discussions are written for advanced-beginner or intermediate computer users. But if you're a first-timer, special sidebar articles called Up To Speed provide the introductory information you need to understand the topic at hand. If you're an advanced user, on the other hand, keep your eye out for similar shaded boxes called Power Users' Clinic. They offer more technical tips, tricks, and shortcuts for the experienced computer fan.

Macintosh and Windows

Dreamweaver MX works almost precisely the same in its Macintosh and Windows versions. Every button in every dialog box is exactly the same; the software response to every command is identical. In this book, the illustrations have been given even-handed treatment, rotating among the three operating systems where Dreamweaver is at home (Windows XP, Mac OS 9, and Mac OS X).

One of the biggest differences between the Mac and Windows versions is the keystrokes, because the Ctrl key in Windows is the equivalent of the Macintosh key.

Whenever this book refers to a key combination, you'll see the Windows keystroke listed first (with + symbols, as is customary in Windows documentation); the Macintosh keystroke follows in parentheses (with - symbols, in time-honored Mac fashion). In other words, you might read, "The keyboard shortcut for saving a file is Ctrl+S (-S)."

About the Outline

Dreamweaver MX: The Missing Manual is divided into six parts, each containing several chapters:

  • Part 1, Building a Web Page, explores Dreamweaver's interface and takes you through the basic steps of building a Web page. It explains how to add text and format it, how to link from one page to another, and how to spice up your designs with graphics.

  • Part 2, Building a Better Web Page, takes you deeper into Dreamweaver and explains how to gain greater control of the design of a Web page. You'll learn how to use more advanced features such as tables, layers, Cascading Style Sheets, and frames. In addition, you'll get step-by-step instruction in using Dreamweaver's Layout view, as well as how to view and work with the underlying HTML code of a page.

  • Part 3, Bringing Your Pages to Life, helps you add interactivity to your site. From using forms to collect information from your site's visitors, to easily adding complex JavaScript programs, this section guides you through adding animation, multimedia, and other interactive effects.

  • Part 4, Building a Web Site, covers the big picture: managing the pages and files in your Web site, testing links and pages, and moving your site onto a Web server connected to the Internet. And since you're not always working solo, this section also covers features that let you work with a team of Web developers.

  • Part 5, Dreamweaver Power, shows you how to take full advantage of such time-saving features as Libraries, Templates, and History panel automation. It also covers Dreamweaver's Extension Manager, a program that can add hundreds of new, free features to the program.

  • Part 6, Dynamic Dreamweaver, presents a gentle introduction to the often confusing and complex world of database-driven Web sites. You'll learn what you need to build a dynamic Web site; how to connect Dreamweaver to a database; and how to use Dreamweaver to build pages that can display database information, as well as add, edit, and delete database records.

At the end of the book, an appendix provides a list of Internet resources for additional Web-design help. At the Missing Manual Web site, you'll find a free, down-loadable bonus appendix: a menu-by-menu explanation of the Dreamweaver MX commands, in both Windows and Macintosh versions.


Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you'll find sentences like this one: "Open the System Folder→Preferences→Remote Access folder." That's shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested folders in sequence, like this: "On your hard drive, you'll find a folder called System Folder. Open that. Inside the System Folder window is a folder called Preferences; double-click it to open it. Inside that folder is yet another one called Remote Access. Double-click to open it, too."

Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify the business of choosing commands in menus, as shown in Figure I-2.

Figure I-2. When you read in a Missing Manual, "Choose Modify→Table→Insert Row," that means: "Click the Modify menu to open it. Then click Table in that menu; choose Insert Row in the resulting submenu."

Living Examples

This book is designed to get your work onto the Web faster and more professionally; it's only natural, then, that half the value of this book also lies on the Web.

As you read the book's chapters, you'll encounter a number of living examples—step-by-step tutorials that you can build yourself, using raw materials (like graphics and half-completed Web pages) that you can download from http://www.sawmac.com/dwmx/. You might not gain very much by simply reading these step-by-step lessons while relaxing in your tree hammock. But if you take the time to work through them at the computer, you'll discover that these tutorials give you an unprecedented insight into the way professional designers build Web pages.

You'll also find, in this book's lessons, the URLs of the finished pages, so that you can compare your Dreamweaver work with the final result. In other words, you won't just see pictures of Dreamweaver's output in the pages of the book; you'll find the actual, working Web pages on the Internet.

About MissingManuals.com

At the http://missingmanuals.com Web site, you'll find articles, tips, and updates to the book. In fact, you're invited and encouraged to submit such corrections and updates yourself. In an effort to keep the book as up-to-date and accurate as possible, each time we print more copies of this book, we'll make any confirmed corrections you've suggested. We'll also note such changes on the Web site, so that you can mark important corrections into your own copy of the book, if you like. (Click the book's name, and then click the Errata link, to see the changes.)

In the meantime, we'd love to hear your own suggestions for new books in the Missing Manual line. There's a place for that on the Web site, too, as well as a place to sign up for free email notification of new titles in the series.

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