Dreamweaver MX 2004 is great for Web developers at the cutting edge of CSS design. Unfortunately, the same kind of innovation isn’t demonstrated in other areas of the program. If you’re already a Dreamweaver MX user and don’t need the new Cascading Style Sheet improvements, this upgrade might not be for you.
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Dreamweaver MX 2004
Dreamweaver MX 2004 is the latest incarnation of Macromedia’s powerful Web-site development tool. The use of style sheets as a way to create sophisticated, user-accessible Web pages is Dreamweaver MX 2004’s newest cause – and it succeeds admirably at displaying, creating and editing Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) designs. It also sports many enhancements, but unfortunately fails to significantly update one of its biggest selling points – its powerful server-side programming tools. Dreamweaver MX 2004 is all about Cascading Style Sheets. Almost every aspect of how the program creates, displays and understands CSS has been improved. It now lets you create complete CSS-based (i.e. table-less) layouts. Designs that looked like a complete mess in previous versions, display well in MX 2004 – in most cases, replicating the display of Internet Explorer or Safari. This makes the design process less frustrating, and makes editing easier. Creating and editing styles has also undergone a transformation, with many additions aimed at seasoned CSS users. While you can still use the simple, dialog-driven method of creating a style, power-users can now use the Tag Inspector for editing CSS styles. This grid lists CSS properties in either one long list or grouped into categories. For hand-coders, new CSS “code hints” can help avoid excess typing by providing pop-up lists of CSS properties and values; just type the first few letters, press return, and let Dreamweaver fill out the rest. Dreamweaver MX 2004 also includes CSS-enhancements aimed at less-experienced Web developers. The program ships with several CSS-based designs to get users started with table-less layout. To help make sure Web pages work with the browsers you’re designing for, the “Check Browser Support” tool identifies HTML tags and CSS code that aren’t supported by the browsers you specify – the program includes profiles for various versions of Safari, Mozilla, Opera, Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. The program includes simple image-editing tools, so if you need to crop, sharpen, shrink or adjust the brightness and contrast of an image on a page, you needn’t jump to another program. It also adds support for SFTP and faster performance of its basic FTP tool. A new Favorites tab gathers all of your most commonly used tools into a single space on the Insert bar.