Macromedia Deamweaver MX

by Joe Gillespie — Sep 1, 2002

Dreamweaver faired a lot better than GoLive when it came to displaying pages laid out with CSS but it's still some way behind what modern browsers are capable of.

It uses the term 'layers' to describe CSS boxes, which is a little confusing as these elements behave quite differently from 'layers' in any drawing program or Flash. They are all on the same 'layer' unless you assign a different z-index value to them. GoLive calls them 'floating boxes' but when you put them on the page, they are labelled #layer 1, #layer2, etcetera too. In textbooks, they are sometimes called 'blocks' and in the mark-up 'divs'. I think 'box' is a more accurate description. The term 'nested layers' makes very little sense.

In its 'design view', Dreamweaver was able to display floated-left columns where they were supposed to go, side-by-side, and even got the dimensions correct. It was also able to put boxes that were absolutely positioned from the right and bottom into their correct places on the page. It was, however, unable to preview my 'layered graphics' pages correctly, as GoLive could, neither could it center elements on the page correctly in some circumstances.

Oddly, Dreamweaver fell apart completely on the four 'typography' pages and on the 'About this site' page making editing virtually impossible. I was also very concerned when it asked me if I wanted to save files that I had just opened but not edited - suggesting that it had changed my mark-up by itself on opening.

There are some extensions available to aid the laying- out of pages with CSS in Dreamweaver however, for these tests, I only used the application as it comes out of the box.

Clearly, both Macromedia and Adobe have some work to do to bring their Web page editing software up to current standards. Neither of them comes anywhere near the capabilities of the latest browsers - or even the majority of browsers, if you look at it that way.

Designers wanting to work with these advanced layout possibilities can't do so in a WYSIWYG environment at the minute and have to resort to hand coding. I suspect that the graphic designers and typographers who are most likely to produce creative layouts are the people least likely to delve into text editing.

Macromedia Dreamweaver MX
Features red bar70%
Ease of Use yellow bar85%
Value for Money green bar85%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar90%
Manufacturer Macromedia
Price Full product $399
Summary Nice Web design tool.
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