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Dreamweaver MX 2004 for Mac OS X
Pages: 1, 2, 3

Use the New CSS Style dialog box to assign a new style class for an individual page, or create a new style sheet.

The new style appears in the Property inspector's Style pull-down menu, and can be applied to any text on the page.

Dreamweaver's new features make style markup easier and more convenient. The CSS Properties panel, which shows you selector properties, appears in a Rule inspector whenever you select a style from the CSS Styles panel. You can see properties in list or category view, and you can edit properties right from the panel -- no visits to the CSS Styles dialog box.

Select any element on the page, and a new Relevant CSS panel appears as part of the Tag inspector. Relevant CSS is a two-part panel: one part highlights the element you chose on the page, while the other part reveals its properties and lets you edit them right in the panel grid. When you apply edits, you will see the change immediately on the page. The panel will indicate any CSS styles that affect the selected element.

New Browser Validation Feature

The Target Browser Check feature lets you check your site against a wide range of graphical browsers, and assures that your site is designed for its audience.. Choose which browsers you want to test by accessing the Settings command via the Target Browser Check button.

The Target Browser dialog box lets you choose which browsers to test.

Then, from the Document menu, click the Target Browser Check button pull-down menu to check errors for a page or site, or to add further settings. This utility runs through your code to identify which tags and attributes are not supported in the browsers you chose. The results are available from the Target Browser Check panel of the Results inspector.

The Target Browser Check panel gives you a line-by-line analysis of all non-compatible elements. It offers a plain-English guide containing detailed explanations about the errors. Clicking anywhere on an error report highlights the error in your page code.

An error preceded by a red stop sign indicates a serious problem. A yellow warning icon lets you know that certain code may not display correctly, but that there are no serious display issues. An informational message tells you that code may not be visible, but that it will not affect how your page displays.

Other Neat Features

Some other neat features include customizable syntax coloring, reference books, coding aids, and a customizable tag database.

Those who have used BBEdit know how convenient color codes can be. Slogging through a sea of black type is not my idea of fun. Dreamweaver, with or without BBEdit integration, lets you custom color your code.

Under Dreamweaver-->Preferences, choose the Code Coloring category. Choose any scripts and web languages that you use to set up a color scheme for your documents.

While you don't have to be an HTML wizard to use Dreamweaver, you can use its built-in reference panel to bring yourself up to speed. The O'Reilly Network (publishers of this web site) has contributed complete versions of its reference works on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET, PHP, and SQL. The reference panel also includes Macromedia's ColdFusion references, UsableNet's accessibility reference, and Wrox's ASP 3.0 and JSP references. To access them, choose Window-->Reference to bring up the Reference tab in the Code panel group.

Hand-code faster and more accurately by invoking Code Hints in code view. Generally, you can find the place where you want to add code. When you type the open bracket, clickable code hints automatically appear.

Control-clicking a selection in code view brings up a contextual menu that you can use to tweak your tags.

Tag libraries (located in an XML tag database) are an easy, visual way to manage your collection of tags. Use the tag library editor to add, edit, and delete tag libraries, tags, and attributes. You can also import custom tags into Dreamweaver to make them part of the coding environment. When a tag is part of the program, it appears with its attributes for coding and editing. A plus (+)/minus (-) interface lets you add and delete tags easily.

Use the Tag Library Editor to set properties and edit tags and attributes. Select a tag to see its properties.

Performance Issues Are Problematic

Dreamweaver MX 2004 is a different world when it comes to visually designing and coding your site. However, be aware of some issues that have arisen for OS X in the initial release of this version.

First, there are some disappointing kinks in performance in Jaguar. For example, launching the program seems slow; it seems to hang before finally launching. Then, some commands, such as opening and closing documents, switching documents, FTP, and various other common functions, initiated a spinning beach ball for varying lengths of time. Launching the application and other functions seem snappier in Panther.

There are also a few glitches in customizing the workspace via panel groupings. It is sometimes awkward to expand some panels past a certain point. A Maximize command opens a panel to its largest setting, which is not always necessary. There are limits to grouping certain panels together, too. You can't just tear off any panel and group it with any other one, as some choices are dimmed out or do not appear.

Anyone can appreciate the need to conserve paper and save on printing costs, but Macromedia should include a free, printed instruction book with the program, in addition to the 800-page (9.1 MB) PDF.

Those who installed or plan to install the program in Jaguar, and then upgrade to Panther using the "Archive and Install" or "Erase and Install" features, will need to install a patch from the Macromedia web site at http://www.macromedia.com/support/service/ts/documents/mac_archive_install.htm. Otherwise the program will not launch.

If you are looking for a change, the best way to go about it is to download a free tryout and see how it works for you.

Jackie Dove is a technology writer, editor, and software reviewer specializing in digital art, Web design, the Internet, and of course, the Mac.


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