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SRG Sites > NewTechReview > Reviews > Dreamweaver/Ultradev 4

Dreamweaver/Ultradev 4

Manufacturer: Macromedia, Inc.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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Ever since its introduction to the market, developers have been praising Macromedia Dreamweaver. It was the first web development product to successfully provide simultaneous visual- and code-based editing. In addition, it obeyed the cardinal rule: never change a user's code without permission. Since then, Dreamweaver has grown to become even more powerful and user-friendly. Beyond Web content authoring, Dreamweaver Ultradev 4 provides all the features of Dreamweaver while adding support web application development. It allows you to create full-fledged web applications using ASP, JSP, and CFML server technologies without the need for any hand-coding (although hand-coding is fully supported).

And with its new incarnation, called Dreamweaver Ultradev 4, not only does the product provide all the tools you need for web site development, it allows you to create full-fledged web applications without the need for any hand-coding (although hand-coding is fully supported).

All of the features in the latest version of Dreamweaver can’t be covered here. There are just too many. But some of the highlights include the Code View, the JavaScript Debugger, the Code Reference, the Layout Mode, Flash Text and Buttons, the Asset Panel, and the Site Reporting feature. If you’re a code-junkie, you’ll love the new Code View, JavaScript Debugger, and Code Reference features. The Code View allows you to edit your non-HTML files (such as JavaScript and XML) and provides code-centric features including auto-indenting, live syntax coloring, and punctuation balancing. In Ultradev 4, these features are also provided for ASP, JSP, and CFML code. The JavaScript Debugger lets you find errors in your code by setting break points, stepping through the code, watching variable values, and executing the code in different browsers for comparison. And the Code Reference provides you with online reference material for HTML, JavaScript, CSS and browser DOMs. The reference material is based on the Definitive DHTML Reference book, published by O’Reilly Publications. I’d like to see the Debugger and Code Reference features expanded to include other code types such as ASP.

The Layout View is one of my favorite new features in Dreamweaver. Using the Layout View, you can create tables by “drawing” the cells on a page. Cells can be resized and repositioned with a simple drag and drop of the mouse. When you’re done, Dreamweaver creates all the nested-table code necessary to keep the layout that you “drew”. In addition, you can set up specific columns to be static or to change when a user resizes their browser window. Excellent. I also like the new Flash Text and Flash Buttons features. These features allow you to automatically create Flash-based text and buttons without any coding whatsoever. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need to own Macromedia Flash in order to take advantage of these features. One thing I’d like to see added, however, is for Dreamweaver to create the code for alternate text or graphics in case visitors don’t happen to have the Flash Player installed.

The Asset Panel and Site Reporting features give you greater control over your site content. With the Asset Panel, you can keep track of all the media files needed for your site – images, colors, external URLs, scripts, Flash, Shockwave, QuickTime, templates and library items. Items can be categorized and you can even set up a Favorites list for the items you need to access the most. Site Reporting lets you test the pages in your site for errors such as broken links, missing alt text, untitled documents, redundant tags, and more. And Reporting options can be added using the Macromedia Extensions Manager.

When it comes to developing database-driven web sites, Ultradev 4 can’t be beat. You can design sites without having to hand-code (unless you want to) because Ultradev automatically creates all the ASP, JSP, and CFML logic for you. Master/Detail, Database Editing, Recordset Navigation Bar and Recordset Statistics Live Objects are just a few mouse clicks away. And as with Site Reporting (mentioned earlier), you can easily extend Ultradev’s coding capabilities by importing new server behaviors and live objects using the Macromedia Extensions Manager. You can even create your own reusable libraries of server-side scripts using the new Server Behavior Builder.

Even though Dreamweaver started as a great web development tool, it has now become indispensable. And with the advent of Ultradev 4, I can’t imagine any web master wanting to be without either product. As a matter of fact, during my tests I came to enjoy using Dreamweaver so much, that the entire NewTechReview web site is being designed and maintained with this product. Dreamweaver is a dream come true (no pun intended) for all professional web developers.
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