Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3

Dreamweaver CS3's new time-saving Browser Compatibility Check lets you check your site on different Web browsers without having to fire up each one.


Now that Dreamweaver has officially ousted GoLive as the favored app among Adobe's WYSIWYG Web tools, the question shifts from which app will earn its place in CS3 to whether the company will foul up Dreamweaver's traditional interface with the familiar Photoshop-style dressing that never really worked for GoLive. Happily, the answer to that second question is no - or not much, anyway. Native support for Intel-powered Macs is CS3's main draw, along with a new form of drag-and-drop eye candy, a slick image importer, and thankfully, no drastic interface makeover or other humiliating Adobe initiation. Dreamweaver looks more like its old self than it does the other CS3 apps.


Dreamweaver veterans will feel right at home in the new version, which retains key interface elements that we've grown to know and love: the Inspector and Insert palettes; a choice of Code, Design, or Split screen view; and thankfully savable Workspace Layouts so we can work in a kit that's streamlined for the task at hand. Dreamweaver's traditional respect for HTML and other coding remains, and the CSS support is better than ever, with a rejiggered CSS Styles palette that includes the CSS Properties, which used to live in a separate palette.


Photoshop has always been a click away from Dreamweaver's Inspector palette via the Edit In Photoshop button, and CS3 brings a slick new way of getting your roughs and comps shaped up and in place quickly. For example, you can select part of an image in Photoshop - in any format, even one with multiple layers - and then copy (Edit > Copy Merged to get multiple layers) and paste it into a Dreamweaver document. The smart new inline optimizer helps you turn it into a GIF or JPEG. Otherwise, the Properties inspector sports the same basic tools (Optimize, Crop, Resample, Brightness and Contrast, and Sharpen) that it's had for years. We expected more, but the paste importer is undeniably awesome.


The other marquee feature is Adobe's new Spry framework. If you've been waiting for an easy way to learn and use Ajax, Spry is it. Ajax (aka Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is the DHTML of Web 2.0. More of a technique of mixing Web technologies than a standard unto itself, Ajax combines the power of databased information with the immediacy of client-side script action. If reading that sentence made your head hurt, don't worry: Dreamweaver includes prefab Spry modules that you can customize via visual sliders in the Properties inspector - then you can peruse the underlying code to start learning how to create your own Ajax and Spry elements. Of course, serious developers will bypass the prefabs and create their own (if they don't bypass Dreamweaver altogether). As the Web and its tools mature, the divide between Joe Sixpack's paintball homepage and useful, data-driven sites is getting wider, and new apps like iWeb are taking over the low end, while high-end developers hack Ajax by hand.


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are just a few clicks away in Dreamweaver CS3. The software comes with customizable CSS templates.


Buying Dreamweaver solo for $399 is a tough sell for most consumers, but the app is more stable than ever - which is to say it only crashed on us a couple of times in heavy, nonstandard use. Plus, Dreamweaver remains an excellent way to learn the technology behind the Web's pretty fluff. If you're not down with paying the piper for this easy education, there are cheaper ways to learn, but none are easier.


The bottom line. If your Mac has Intel inside and you make your bacon with Dreamweaver, CS3 will pay for itself. But if you're reasonably happy using one of the previous two versions of Dreamweaver (MX or MX 2004, aka version 8), hold off until you get a new Mac or Adobe adds fancier shizzle to Dreamweaver's WYSIWYizzle.


PRICE: $399 à la carte, $199 upgrade, available in four CS3 bundles ($999 to $2,499)
REQUIREMENTS: G4, G5, or multicore Intel processor; Mac OS 10.4.8 or later; 512MB RAM; 1.4GB disk space
More Photoshop integration. Spry, which is drag-and-drop Ajax bling. Universal binary.
Not many new features for the money. GoLive's dead - if that counts as a bad thing.



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BONUS TIP (obituary, actually...): Whither GoLive?


Macromedia (Dreamweaver's original developer) may have lost the war when Adobe bought the company in 2005, but Dreamweaver won its epic battle with Adobe's GoLive for King of WYSIWYG Web tools. CS2 was GoLive's last stand, but Dreamweaver CS3 comes with a GoLive extension for exporting old sites into a Dreamweaver-compatible format.






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Having just downloaded GoLive 9.0


John King

Having just downloaded GoLive 9.0, now updated as a UB, given the same look and feel as the other CS3 apps with lots of new features, and making me as happy as clam in a steakhouse, I have one question for the reviewer: Did he even bother to contact Adobe before going to press to find out the status of GoLive? Or did he just assume "CS2 was GoLive's last stand"? I'm not even a journalist, but even I know a thing or two about verifying one's sources and statements. Niko "Libby" Coucouvanis needs a quick refresher course on fact checking - unless that counts as a bad thing.

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