EW3 - Editor Wars v.3 EDITOR WARS

Comparative HTML Editor Reviews, v.3


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  Dreamweaver 1.2    

Category: WYSIWYG Editors
Manufacturer: Macromedia , www.macromedia.com
Download: 12 MB, no longer available

  What it does.    



Macromedia, the maker of the multimedia authoring tool "Director", has discovered the Internet. After Shockwave and Flash, in January they released their DHTML editor Dreamweaver and in May, the Internet graphics application "Fireworks".

Given Dreamweaver's pricing (300 US-$), this is obviously not an editor for the casual user. The intended audience is one of seasoned web masters and people who wish to keep control of their code, even in a WYSIWYG environment. To keep all bases covered, Dreamweaver includes a copy of the text-based Allaire HomeSite web editor.

The version reviewed here is Dreamweaver 1.2, mainly presented for its historical value ; the current version is Dreamweaver 3.0 (as of December 1999).
NOTE: This review was originally written in Mid-1998.



  The Light Side.    



Dreamweaver bills itself as the editor which will not change your code and it actually delivers, being the only editor of its kind to achieve this without sacrificing WYSIWYG. When opening a file, all other editors in this category will parse the code and reassemble the tags into what they consider proper HTML.

Dreamweaver will leave your code untouched, but it can also be set to try and fix tags it finds in error. There is an intermediate setting to make the editor list all proposed modifications for your confirmation before making any changes.

The main strength of Dreamweaver is DHTML: Animations and other events are scheduled across timelines (a concept obviously borrowed from Director); this is relatively painless and the results are compatible with both Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape Communicator 4.

Given its "object-oriented" approach, Dreamweaver can actually be expanded in its functionality. Users can create objects in HTML and JavaScript which can easily be incorporated into DreamWeaver. The Dreamweaver support section on the Macromedia site offers numerous user-generated Dreamweaver objects for download.



  The Dark Side.    



Most of the initial problems with Dreamweaver have been addressed by the recent 1.2 update. It is now possible to let Dreamweaver transform pages with layered DHTML layouts into tables for 3.0 browsers. The initial release didn't include a link checker, version 1.2 has verification both on a page- and sitewide level.

Still not fixed is International keyboard support. It is impossible to enter extended characters which cannot be reached with regular and shift keys. German users will wring their hands seeing they can't even enter an "at" character in Dreamweaver, unless they enter it in ASCII (ALT-064).

An usability issue is the fact that Dreamweaver and Homesite, in some areas, use identical keyboard shortcuts - but not everywhere, causing confusion in the process. More minor gripes:

  • The timeline metaphor for setting DHTML events may be intuitive for Director users; for web authors, it is not.
  • When editing pages with complex table structures or large forms, response times begin to lag.
  • There is no way of forcing Dreamweaver to use <strong> and <em> instead of <b> and <i> for emphasis.





From the pool of WYSIWYG editors, Dreamweaver stands out as the most in tune with the realities of web design. Even so, the question remains whether it is worth the price. Experienced web designers will end up using HomeSite for the main bulk of their work and Dreamweaver to add "fancy" effects such as JavaScript and DHTML.

Clearly, Dreamweaver has not been designed for the HTML beginner. If you know what you are doingTM and are conscious of the severe limitations normally associated with WYSIWYG HTML editing, you will have to acknowledge that Dreamweaver manages to accomplish the near-impossible, marrying the best of both worlds. Now if the price would drop into an affordable area, this would be a ten out of ten product.

Available for MacOS and Windows 95/98/NT; Cost: 299 US-Dollars (online)






(NOTE: No comparisons since this product is no longer sold. The current version is Dreamweaver 3.0.)



  Related Materials.    



Official Web Page: www.dreamweaver.com

Dreamweaver Behaviors: www.yaromat.com




//Hell On Earth/Editor Wars 3/WYSIWYG Editors/Dreamweaver


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