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Welcome to Inside Dreamweaver MX! It’s an exciting place to be. Your authors have combined all their knowledge and diverse experience to provide you with a rich resource for learning all about the new Dreamweaver and learning how to apply your knowledge to deal with real-world web-authoring issues.

What (and Whom) This Book Is For

Our goal in writing this book was to give you a more in-depth experience of Dreamweaver, and of web page creation, than you’ll find in the program manual or beginner-level books. If you’ve never fired up a copy of Dreamweaver before, you’ll find plenty of good fundamental information about where things are and how they work. If you’re already a Dreamweaver user, but aren’t satisfied that you’re taking full advantage of the software, or want to take your knowledge to the next level, there’s plenty here for you as well. If you’re a web developer just itching to wrap your brain around database-driven web sites, XHTML, DHTML, and other cutting-edge technologies, we have sections on each of those topics to help you play technology catch-up.

Dreamweaver in the Larger Scheme of Things

Working with web development software isn’t like working with any other kind of program. Before you can use Dreamweaver effectively, you need to know how browsers work, and how HTML, JavaScript, and other web technologies function within the browser to create web experiences. One of our goals in this book is to help you look beyond the software, to start thinking about what’s possible on the web and how Dreamweaver can help you accomplish that.

To that end, this book examines every topic as it relates to browsers and HTML standards, as well as how it’s implemented in Dreamweaver. Instead of just learning how to format type in Dreamweaver, you want to know what all the possibilities are for type formatting in HTML, how they work, and what their relative advantages are. Then you want to know how to use Dreamweaver to make that formatting happen. That’s the emphasis throughout this book.

Dreamweaver in the Real World

We also know that no one becomes a pro by memorizing program features. To really master any software, you have to know not only what the program can do, but also how to use its capabilities creatively to solve real problems and build real projects. This book teaches you how to use various program features. However, it also explains why to use them—and how to use them well. Each chapter includes our own professional tips and strategies, as well as exercises showing you how to apply program features. We’ve also included several interviews with web professionals so you can see how Dreamweaver works in the trenches.

Dreamweaver and Live Data

The most dramatic change in Dreamweaver MX is the incorporation of UltraDev’s dynamic data features into the main Dreamweaver program. If you’re not yet versed in this aspect of web development but want to learn, we have some special features for you. In addition to a section of the book devoted to creating data-driven web sites (Part V, “Dreamweaver and Dynamic Data”), we’ve placed relevant dynamic data topics throughout the book’s other chapters. They’re marked with a special icon, so they’ll be easy to identify. And for those of you who aren’t interested in this aspect of web development, Dreamweaver hasn’t abandoned you and we haven’t either. You can ignore Part V and skip right past the dynamic data topics—there’s plenty of other information to absorb.

Other New Features

There’s more new to Dreamweaver MX than just database connectivity. The program sports a new, streamlined interface, organized around dockable panel groups. Dreamweaver now offers XML and XHTML support, including DocType declarations and validation. Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) support has been beefed up. Dreamweaver now makes it easier to write accessible code. And for the hand-coders among you, many HomeSite features have been integrated into Dreamweaver. Integration with Flash MX is a joy to behold. And that’s just the highlights! Throughout the book, keep your eye out for the special “new features” icon. Wherever we show off a new feature, you’ll see that icon in the margin.

How This Book Is Organized

Each of the book’s 36 chapters contains explanatory text, lots of pictures, and several hands-on exercises. The chapters are grouped into six sections:

Part I: Web Page Construction with Dreamweaver

These chapters cover the nuts and bolts of creating web pages with Dreamweaver, including setting up the workspace, creating documents, working with text and images, setting up links and navigation systems, and adding head content. Just because these are fundamentals doesn’t mean this section is only for beginners! There’s a lot to learn here about good, solid work skills for creating good foundation documents.

Part II: Design with Dreamweaver

This section looks at Dreamweaver as a design tool. This includes creating good page layout with tables and layers, using CSS, creating frame-based layouts, and designing forms. The focus is on creating attractive, functional and communicative page designs, and on developing good coding skills to create well-structured pages that will display well across browsers and platforms.

Part III: Interactivity, DHTML, and Multimedia

Web pages don’t have to be static. An important part of the web experience is interactivity, whether it’s for user engagement, efficient presentation of information, or entertainment value. The chapters in this section examine all the tools for making things hop and pop, turning the static web experience into something interactive. This includes JavaScript behaviors, DHTML (what it is and how you can use it), as well as working beyond HTML with Flash and other rich media content.

Part IV: Site Management with Dreamweaver

No web page is an island. This section covers Dreamweaver as an organizational tool for working with the dozens or hundreds of files that comprise a web site. This section covers creating a local site and taking advantage of Dreamweaver file management resources, working with remote sites, and using Dreamweaver tools for team-based or large-scale web development.

Part V: Dreamweaver and Dynamic Data

Dynamic data is the future of web development. Read this section of the book to start using Dreamweaver to work with ASP and ASP.NET, ColdFusion, PHP, and JSP. These chapters get you going from the ground up, explaining how dynamic web pages work and how to set up a workstation for dynamic development. One chapter is devoted to each of the major development environments Dreamweaver supports.

Part VI: Dreamweaver Under the Hood

Think of this section as Dreamweaver for geeks. Starting with an overview of the web from a coder’s point of view, these chapters cover Dreamweaver as a coding tool; customizing the Dreamweaver workspace; working with extensions and the Extension Manager; and finally, using a bit of scripting to write your own extensions.

How to Use This Book

How you use this book depends on who you are and how you want to use it.

  • Reading front to back. You could read this book from front to back, like a good novel—the topics are generally arranged from simpler to more challenging, and from small-scale (working with individual pages) to large-scale (working with sites and servers). Or you could pick any section or chapter you like, and start reading there. Each chapter contains enough cross-references that you should be able to pick up the story anywhere you like, and still be oriented.

  • Doing the exercises or not. The exercises are provided to give you practice with various Dreamweaver topics and examples of how to put different Dreamweaver functions to use. You’ll gain a lot by doing them. Sometimes, however, you just don’t have time to do exercises—you need answers now. All topics are fully covered outside the exercises; so if you want to use the book as a reference only, you can find everything you’re looking for in the text.

  • Getting started with dynamic data. If you’re ready to enter the brave new world of live data, you should start by reading Part V. Then go through the book’s other chapters. Look out for the “dynamic data” icons; they’ll point out aspects of each chapter’s subject matter that relates to dynamic data web sites.

What to Take Away from This Book

We hope you enjoy learning about Dreamweaver as much as we have enjoyed writing about it. We want you to close the covers of this book with a greater understanding of how web development works, and how to use Dreamweaver to work with it, than when you started. But remember, no one ever became a better web designer just by reading books. Read the book. Then go create some web sites. Then come back and read more of the book. Then go make more web sites. And just about the time you think you’ve got everything mastered, it’ll be time for a new book!

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