Dreamweaver excels at creating multiplatform (responsive) websites that work equally well on a phone, tablet, or computer. Any private or corporate web designer looking to replace an ancient desktop- or laptop-style website with a modern multiplatform site will find Dreamweaver the obvious first choice. I’ll describe some alternatives later in this story, but none of them comes close to Dreamweaver in terms of power and ease.
After more than 20 years of evolution, Dreamweaver still has some awkward spots where it can’t decide whether it’s a tool for advanced coders or for visually oriented designers, but these are easy for serious users to work around—and Adobe’s subscription pricing means that only serious users are likely to have it. Dreamweaver isn’t cheap, but for professional-level web design, it repays the price in power and convenience. Adobe’s subscription model means you get periodic feature updates at no extra cost.
Adobe wants you to work with Adobe tools, so it’s easy to use Photoshop and Illustrator to edit images or Premiere Pro and Audition for video and sound files. You can also use Photoshop to create a mock-up of what you want your site to look like and then use Dreamweaver’s Extract menu to drag elements from the Photoshop file into your web pages. But Dreamweaver also works with just about any third-party site-building tool that you might want to use. For example, you can use Dreamweaver to design and edit sites managed by WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal, or you can create a Git repository and use it keep track of changes in your site.
First-time users face a steep learning curve, but if you’re familiar with Photoshop or Illustrator, you should be able to climb it fairly quickly. If like me, you get bewildered searching for some obscure feature, the Help menu can guide you to exactly the menu item you need, even when it’s deep in the menu structure. Dreamweaver uses the standard Adobe interface, a main editing window surrounded by a toolbar on the left and multi-tabbed information panels on the right. Unless you’re an expert coder who won’t need all the onscreen tools and panels, don’t even think of using Dreamweaver on a small laptop. This app needs all the screen real-estate you can give it.
Fortunately, if you’re expert at coding, or if you want the most spacious possible WYSIWYG view, you can hide everything but Dreamweaver’s main editing window. And that window is a chameleon-like marvel of flexibility. The window’s viewing options include an all-code view with the typical coding-window indentation and color-coding to make the structure of your project visible.
You can choose between two kinds of WYSIWYG views. One is a Live view that approximates what you would see in a browser, except with page elements outlined for clarity and with buttons that let you modify the tags for individual elements simply by clicking on the element. The other is a Design view that shows all design elements on a page, including the ones that might be invisible in a browser until a user clicks on them. Finally, you can split the window to show code in one pane and either Live or Design view in the other—or with code in both panes so that you can view and edit two different parts of the code at the same time. Advanced options let you sync the changes you make on your desktop with the code on your remote web server.
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