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Welcome To Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 Demystified! It’s An Exciting Place to be. We’ve squeezed as much information, tips, techniques, strategies, and advice as we could fit between its covers. Each new release of Dreamweaver adds more features and improves on existing ones. And this release is no different. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let’s get started demystifying Dreamweaver.

What (and Whom) This Book Is For

According to the blurb on the back cover, this book is for the intermediate Dreamweaver user. What does that mean? That’s a good question. We assume you’ve opened up Dreamweaver at least a few times already. You’ve gone through the beginning tutorials, or you just plowed right in and started using it when you got that new assignment at work. But beyond that? Every intermediate user is a beginner at some things and is advanced at others. Consequently, for every topic, we begin with a quick trip through the basics before exploring more advanced issues and techniques.

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 W3C 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 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 professional tips and strategies, as well as exercises showing you how to apply the program features covered in that chapter.

New Features

Dreamweaver is always evolving. The new Dreamweaver X offers the Selection Inspector; a revised Insert bar; improved CSS handling; more powerful tools for working with PHP, ASP.NET, and ColdFusion; and more. 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 29 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: Designing with Dreamweaver

This section looks at Dreamweaver as a design tool. This includes creating good page layouts with tables and divs, 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), and how to work 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 website. 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 Live Data

Dynamic data (referred to as live data in Dreamweaver) is the future of web development. Read this section of the book to improve the way you work with ASP.NET, ColdFusion, and PHP. We cover the basics—setting up sites, using live data objects, and understanding server behaviors—and then move on to pushing the envelope with the different server technologies.

Part VI: Dreamweaver Under the Hood

Think of this section as Dreamweaver for geeks. These chapters cover using 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; 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, your 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. You can find all the exercise files at www.peachpit.com. 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.

Book Conventions

All computer books need to establish certain conventions to simplify presentation of the material. And this book is no different!

Menu commands are separated by > indicators between menu name and command name, or between menu name and submenu name, like this: File > Save. This convention is also used to indicate particular categories or tabs within dialog boxes and windows, like this: the Preferences > General dialog box or the Results > Site FTP Log panel.

Important new terms are italicized the first time they appear in the text, but not after that. Filenames (for the exercises) are in bold.

Code samples are printed in a monospace font when separated from their surrounding text. If a line of code is too long to print on the book page, it’s indicated by a arrow where it wraps to the next line. This indicates that no actual hard return should be inserted here. Any code word or phrase in the text (such as the name of an HTML tag or attribute) is also set in a monospace font.

Keyboard shortcuts for menu commands are not generally mentioned along with their menu counterparts because they’re always listed next to the menu item and because you may have customized your keyboard shortcuts, so the information would be irrelevant to you, anyway. This book is for intermediate users, and I assume that you know how to read a shortcut indicator. Your reward for not having every keyboard shortcut explicitly mentioned in the text is that it makes room in the book for lots of extra content—a great trade-off!

Mac/Windows differences for keyboard and other procedures are indicated as concisely as possible. Ctrl/Cmd refers to the Control key on Windows and the Command key on Mac. So Ctrl/Cmd+S means that Windows users press Ctrl+S and Mac users press Cmd+S. Alt/Opt similarly refers to the Alt key on Windows and the Opt key on Mac. Whenever the book refers to right-clicking anything, Mac users with a single-button mouse should Ctrl-click. If you’re on a Mac, you probably already know that Ctrl-clicking is the standard alternative to right-clicking, so it’s not explicitly stated in the text.

What to Take Away from This Book

We hope you enjoy learning about Dreamweaver as much as we enjoyed putting this book together for you. 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 websites. Then come back and read more of the book. Then go make more websites. And just about the time you think you’ve got everything mastered, it’ll be time for a new book!

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