Dreamweaver/Fireworks 3 Studio

Introduction

As Macworld’s online editor, I’m always awaiting the next new bit of software that will ease the strain of administering Macworld’s Web pages. Trying to keep up with strict deadlines, without screwing-up propriety tags, database front-ends, or the scripts needed to run Macworld’s adverts, can be quite a task. I’ve had great fun for the last three years, trying out and testing every so-called WYSIWYG Web-page editor available. But, from GoLive to Freeway, I have usually been disappointed. The annoying quirks, messed-up HTML, and strange disappearance of the tags I’ve carefully written by hand, is frustrating rather than straightforward. When fired up with optimism that the software will make life easier for me, finding out that the reality is a little more long-winded than the PR, is always depressing. Imagine that
Macromedia is certainly making the best progress in sparking the imagination of Web designers. It’s actively encouraging them to push their creativity to the furthest limits possible by consistently providing easier-to-use, more reliable, and more production-friendly tools. These tools are built around suggestions from its customers, and then improved upon even further. Announced on November 8, the latest upgrade to Macromedia’s HTML and Web graphics tools, Dreamweaver 3 and Fireworks 3, are again pushing up the standards in Web-development software. Loads of new features have been added to both products. This upgrade focuses on customization, and streamlined production flow of Web pages for collaborating designers. A dream to use
The advantages of using both Dreamweaver and Fireworks as an all-in-one solution for Web design are numerous. The integration between the two applications can only serve to speed up the production, and maintenance of Web sites. Make life easier on yourself, and invest in this Studio set. It’s not a lot to pay for the sheer wealth of features, and superb integration, that will allow you to produce a good-looking, professional site. Dreamweaver and Fireworks have always complimented one another, but this is the first time they have been sold as a complete solution. They are intertwined as never before, and now their interaction has become almost seamless. One of the major new changes is the use of DOM (document object model), that allows flexibility in creating customized versions of Dreamweaver, and, therefore excellent control over your working environment. This extensibility will be a great asset for Web design teams – enabling the editing of drop-down menus and commands in multiple copies of Dreamweaver. Also, using JavaScript in the menus.xml file – within the configuration folder – to do this means the changes work across platforms. The production flow can be designed around the level of skill of an individual, and the necessary limits required for a Web team’s project. You can make your copy of Dreamweaver as intuitive as you want. A new History palette allows steps to be recorded and saved as commands, automating repetitive tasks across designers and platforms – but, source-code editing is not supported by this feature. Being able to track down an error made somewhere along the production line, through the historical data, will inevitably speed up the de-bugging process. However, once you quit the application your history is lost – but, the saved commands are still there. The Macintosh version of Dreamweaver makes use of the latest Mac OS system features, such as spring-loaded folders, and improved navigation. The HTML window in Dreamweaver now supports line numbers, find-&-replace, drag-&-drop, and cut-&-paste. New and improved
When mobile phones become a more common form of Internet access, you’ll be able to design pages for them with ease. Web TV is also difficult to design, because of the limited screen space of 640-x-480 pixels. Any help in these areas will be appreciated more when it becomes a common requirement. Other new Dreamweaver features include: the introduction of a QuickTag Editor – allowing access to the HTML tags in layout format – pre-loaded framesets, support for CSV, CFM and PHP, and better integration with Microsoft Word. Also, support for WebTV and WML/WAP for mobile phones, table sorting, and embedding of Excel content, are now included. No comments
HTML styles are fully customizable, as the mark-up code is stored as XML in the libraries – for designers who prefer to use those, rather than CSS (cascading style sheets). Special characters, such as @ and ©, can be quickly added to content from the corresponding object palette. These are also customizable – you simply add the HTML code and icon into the specified folder, within the configuration folder. Design notes can now be stored as XML, separate from the page itself, getting rid of the need for comments. Fireworks 3 has greater integration with third-party applications, such as Photoshop, and the same customization features as Dreamweaver. You can ‘slave’ Fireworks to Dreamweaver, allowing swift changes to images – without even launching the Fireworks application. Designer’s favourite third-party plug-ins and filters, such as Alien Skin’s Eye Candy, can also be used with Fireworks – though why would you want to, when Fireworks itself has so many in-built effects? Size doesn’t matter
Some of the smallest features in Fireworks, are the most fun and most useful to apply, such as being able to turn H1 headers into Gifs with just a couple of clicks. Slicing is easier and more accessible. There’s a new Optimize option – allowing you to preview your JavaScript rollover effects within the work window, and also to add these scripts to the Symbol library to use again and again. The history palette introduced to Dreamweaver 3 is also applied in Fireworks 3. There is even a new Work Space command, that will snap your palettes back to tidy positions on screen, so you no longer get muddled-up in palette-hell. You can turn your animations into Flash movies instantly, or add sound and render your images as QuickTime files. You can quickly jump between viewing hot spots and slices, with the added palette options in v.3. Also, you can instantly preview your work by clicking the related tab, rather than plodding through the Export Wizard to get an idea of what your creation will eventually look like. One of the main advantages of using Fireworks, rather than any other Web graphics editor, is the always-editable format used to create the files. PNG format is fully-editable, even after importing into Dreamweaver. Designers who would rather create their initial designs in Illustrator, or Photoshop, will be glad of the extra support for paths and vectors in Fireworks 3. There is also added flexibility for designs created in Fireworks, when exporting from Fireworks into FreeHand, Illustrator, or even CorelDraw. Any text imported Photoshop is still editable, as are any Photoshop effects layers. Macromedia has maintained the focus on the creation of cross-platform Web elements in Fireworks 3, by adding the ability to check the gamma variations, across Windows and Macintosh platforms, within the applications. Options to correct the look of your digital-camera-produced images have been improved. You no longer have to alter the hue, saturation, levels, or brightness and contrast of your pictures in Photoshop, before importing into Fireworks. You can do it as you work, and, because they remain seamlessly editable as Live Effects, you can change them at any time.
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