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Dreamweaver MX: Design and Technique (with CD-ROM)

by Ethan Watrall
ISBN: 0782141005
Publisher: Sybex
Pub. Date: July 2002

I hack. I copy and paste, I steal and I re-use code over and over and over again. I stumble through JavaScript and get lost in Action Script, and I do it all by hand. I use Homesite® and NotePad but never an HTML WYSIWYG editor. Too often the world of these 3rd party programs adds too much code that is of no use or the results are never quite what I am looking for; pages that seemingly have the same limitations, layout and functionality. So I do it by hand to make sure I have total control over everything that goes into my sites, whether it is my code or some that I happen to be "adapting" from another site.

Dreamweaver® MX is a different story. I first got involved with MX in order to harness its powerful and easy to use PHP, JSP and ASP functionality however, with little more than a beginners' knowledge of Dreamweaver®, I quickly found myself in over my head. And along came Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique by Ethan Watrall; a lifesaver, an eye-opener and a resource beyond value. From the nuts and bolts of Dreamweaver® and the basics of web design to advanced functions such as timelines, behaviors and dynamic content Watrall covers everything you need in a manner which is easy to read, understand and follow. I have been hacking at HTML for 7 years now, constantly learning and being awed by the new technologies available. As I have tried to keep myself a purist - sticking with the hand coding and monitoring of all my sites manually - a month with this book has made me rethink my efficiency and effectiveness. Dreamweaver® keeps your code clean, deploys your sites effectively and provides access to arenas many of us do not have the time to master but want to play in. Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique, although not an introductory book to Dreamweaver®, will wet your whistle and make you want for more… make you want for everything Dreamweaver® can, and does, provide.

Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique includes a CD containing support files for the book as well as trial versions of Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX and Fireworks MX. Easy to read, easy to follow and fun to use - Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique is a must have for the Dreamweaver® wanna-be!

Now, if you are a beginner to the web world, HTML and even the Macromedia line of products I would not recommend this book. Although a good deal of "beginner material" is covered, Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique is really written with the assumption that the user is familiar with many of the fundamentals of the web and has some familiarity with Dreamweaver® or the MX interface. If you are looking for a book to learn Dreamweaver® from the ground up I would recommend Macromedia Dreamweaver MX Hands-On Training By Garo Green and Abigail Rudner, an easy to read tutorial of the application as a whole. Once you get the basics down and are ready to move to managing your site with Dreamweaver® templates a great, in-depth guide is Dreamweaver® MX Templates by Brad Halstead and Murray R. Summers. Also of immense value, to the more advanced in the crew who are looking for some detailed fun in the dynamic/database driven functionality of Dreamweaver®, is Dreamweaver® MX: Advanced PHP Web Development, an excellent in depth resource on hand coding PHP and working with PHP server behaviors.

Dreamweaver® MX Design and Technique

Part I - A Taste of Design and Embarking on Technique
Essentially an introductory chapter to the World of the Web. Watrall covers the basics here, talking about the history and functionality of the web, HTML and the joy of browser compatability. If you are a newbie to web design, Part I is a good read, laying down the key considerations and fundamentals of web design. For those of us who have been around and know the ins-and-outs of web design, Chapter 2 highlights the updates that MX brings to the screen and outlines the user interface of the program - well worth the read! If you are familiar with other Macromedia applications you will pick up on the interface in no time.

Part II - Intermediate Dreamweaver Techniques
Although Part II covers some more fundamentals of the web (Frames and Forms) it does bring to light the essential skills of creating and managing Library Items, working with templates, site-wide assets and site management and publishing within Dreamweaver®. Part II is essential, worth reading several times and keeping open next to you whenever you have Dreamweaver® running on your machine.

Part III - Working with Dynamic HTML
Part III is another essential section to keep handy when working with Dreamweaver® (or even if you are coding by hand). Valuable information and references for creating Cascading Style Sheets, working with Layers and a great chapter on working with DHTML behaviors both inside the Dreamweaver® application and out.

Part IV - Making Dreamweaver Dynamic
Although this section lays out some great groundwork and ideas for setting up a database driven application I was not given the amount of information I wanted. This is a great primer to they dynamic world - you will definitely be able to get your feet wet with the information provided, but you will want to push Dreamweaver® further and test what it can really do for you in this arena. If your focus with Dreamweaver® is on the database and dynamic content I would recommend searching for alternative resources.

Chapter 1 - Web Design: The Big Picture
Chapter 2 - Starting Up Dreamweaver
Chapter 3 - Setting Up and Managing Your Page
Chapter 4 - Adding and Manipulating Text
Chapter 5 - Working with Images
Chapter 6 - Working with Hyperlinks
Chapter 7 - Working with Tables
Chapter 8 - Framing Your Page
Chapter 9 - Reusable Elements: Library Items and Templates
Chapter 10 - Working with Forms
Chapter 11 - Inserting and Manipulating Multimedia
Chapter 12 - Managing and Publishing your Site with Dreamweaver
Chapter 13 - Working with Cascading Style Sheets
Chapter 14 - Absolute Positioning with Layers
Chapter 15 - Adding Advanced Interactivity with Behaviors
Chapter 16 - Animating with the Timeline Tool
Chapter 17 - Setting the Groundwork for your Dynamic Database-Driven Application
Chapter 18 - Displaying and Manipulating Data from Your Database
Chapter 19 - Developing Common Dynamic Applications

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