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Wherever I talk to Web developers, I hear the same stories. The work is there, but the budgets are tight and resources are laughable—if they exist at all. Bosses and clients need to squeeze out more productivity at a lower cost; their jobs—and the developer’s future job opportunities—are at stake. Do more with less is the order of the day, and do it now. Traditional boundaries between designer and coder are being blurred, if not dissipated altogether, by the work pressure. Web site creation has moved well past vanilla HTML. New standards and technologies break like waves, and developers must master them on-the-fly or go under. I hear the same stories wherever I go.

Beyond Dreamweaver is my reply. The title is not meant to lessen Dreamweaver—I’m certainly not suggesting that the program should be left behind. Far from it; it’s latest incarnation, Dreamweaver MX, has more reach and power than ever before. Rather, my goal with this book is to demonstrate how the professional web developer can go further with Dreamweaver than ever before.

In one sense, Dreamweaver is a roadmap into the uncharted territories of web development. You know there must be a way to integrate your content management system with Dreamweaver, but how exactly is it done? You’re sure there is a faster, more efficient way to bring your site into Section 508 compliance, but what are the techniques? You’ve seen Dreamweaver extensions boost productivity generally, but what’s the key to dissolving your specific production roadblocks? I wrote Beyond Dreamweaver to answer these questions, and more.

Beyond Dreamweaver is also a celebration: I love this program. I love how the Dreamweaver engineers anticipate user needs with entire open architectures rather than locked-down single features. I love pushing Dreamweaver to the absolute limit and then finding a way to work past the limitations. I love Dreamweaver because the program constantly surprises me with its flexibility, grace, and brute strength.

Beyond Dreamweaver’s Content

Beyond Dreamweaver is a need-driven book. I’ve seen more and more companies moving toward content management systems and looking for ways to integrate their authoring tools. I’ve received numerous emails from web developers looking for guidance and techniques on Section 508 compliance. I’ve been approached at conferences with questions about all sorts of multimedia technology, including SMIL. The initial section of the book is devoted to these particular cries for help.

As you look over the book’s table of contents, you might notice a pattern. There is a progression from the more specific—CMS and accessibility—to the more general—cross-product integration and broad-spectrum extensibility. I wanted to cover Dreamweaver as I see it: a multilayered tool that grows in scope the deeper you dig. In the middle layer, you’ll find an emphasis on Dreamweaver power features, including templates and XML connectivity. Armed with in-depth knowledge of capabilities such as these, your efficiency and production level can soar.

The last part of the book reflects a deep love of mine: extensibility. It’s true that I derive great personal enjoyment from building extensions—it’s a left brain/right brain kind of thing—but I don’t expect everyone to begin building Dreamweaver extensions. No, I’m more interested in exposing the possibilities of Dreamweaver extensibility to a wider audience. Think of it as a paradigm shift: Once you know something can be done—whether it is cross-communicating with Flash and Dreamweaver or adding whole new layers of authoring functionality with C-level extensions—you can make it happen.

Beyond Dreamweaver’s Audience

To get the most out of this book, you need to have some web and some Dreamweaver experience under your belt. I don’t spend any time explaining the history of the web or what a library item is; there are a tremendous number of books out there for that. If you’re looking for a general reference— and Dreamweaver MX is such a big program that I think you really need one to really get the most out of the software—try my Dreamweaver MX Bible or New Rider’s Inside Dreamweaver MX.

Beyond Dreamweaver is really for working web developers and designers who need to overcome challenges in their work and push their designs further. If you’re working on a corporate web site and are looking for techniques to facilitate your workflow, you’ll find a lot of material here. If your workgroup just got hit with an increase in production responsibility without an increase in resources, Beyond Dreamweaver can help automate your efforts. If you’re working on your own and need to blow the competition out of the water—but stay under budget—Beyond Dreamweaver will give you the edge you need.

Beyond Dreamweaver’s Code

Beyond Dreamweaver is a solution-oriented detailed book. In many cases, I dig deep through code to explain how a function or extension really works so that you can gather the maximum benefit. To smooth the learning curve, this book has a number of special, code-related features.

First, you’ll notice that the code is commented from within and without. In addition to standard HTML and JavaScript comments, you’ll find pointers or callouts to specific sections of the code to help emphasize key points easily overlooked in a block of code.

When code is discussed in a chapter, I typically break it down into meaningful chunks. Because I also wanted readers to be able to grasp the code as a whole, you’ll find the complete listings for all the code being discussed. At the beginning of each discussion, you’ll find a Note that contains a reference to the listing that reproduces the code, and that code listing will appear at the end of the discussion. These listings, along with a few Bonus Listings, will also appear on this book’s web site at www.idest.com/beyond.

You’ll find all manner of code here—HTML, JavaScript, XML, ASP, ColdFusion, Fireworks, JavaScript, and Flash .FLA—because the world of the web developer is a multilingual one.

Beyond Dreamweaver’s Web Site

Numerous extensions and other files are referenced throughout the book. You’ll find them all posted on the Beyond Dreamweaver web site: www.idest.com/beyond. I’ll also post links to resources and new examples as they become available.

As always, if you have a comment, question, or complaint, let me hear about it: jlowery@idest.com.

I remember this quote from a bio of Isaac Newton I read in the 5th grade: “If I’ve seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” For me, Dreamweaver is a true giant with lots of room on those shoulders for all of us. Time for you to see what you can see—here, let me give you a hand…

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