How long have you been using Dreamweaver, and what were your first impressions?
I have used Macromedia Dreamweaver since its first version was released around the beginning of 1998. At the time, other software packages like HoTMetaL Pro, Microsoft Frontpage and other packages were extremely popular but poorly organized and did not openly support new techniques like DHTML (at the time). I remember seeing Dreamweaver demonstrations at Internet World where all sorts of fun DHTML animations were being created and shown. Those features immediately caught my attention and I ran home with my demo CD to install it and try it out. Once I started using it I realized that some of the other features like the find and replace tool were something that other packages surprisingly did not have at the time. I also really liked how easy the creation and modification of tables were compared to other products. It immediately became the only tool I used when handling the HTML and construction of a site.
What is your favourite feature of Dreamweaver?
I would have to say that my favourite feature is templates. Dreamweaver’s template features are appealing because it is very simple to integrate and no specific programming language or specific server type is needed to have all pages or groups of pages in a site follow the exact same layout and structure. The process is simple enough that designers, developers and even people with very little web experience can easily change the entire look of a site at the click of a button. I recently updated a personal site containing 1,500 unique pages that had been built in Dreamweaver using templates. Maintaining the same content structure but a completely different layout I had the entire site designed, graphics cut up, HTML changed, a new look and feel in place, and live on the site in under 8 hours. The other appealing aspect of templates is the locking of non-editable areas of a site making it ideal for situations where clients of varied experience might be working on pages of a site. Knowing that the structure is in tact and only the content is editable, lets me sleep a little easier when handing off a complete project to a client.
What is your least favourite feature of Dreamweaver?
Currently Dreamweaver CSS rendering does not reflect some of the cutting-edge techniques people in the industry are using. When developing CSS and XHTML structured sites, pages viewed inside of Dreamweaver often look nothing close to what the code specifies and what is represented in the actual browsers. It is unlikely to ever completely mimic every browser’s CSS and XHTML interpretation of a website (in one preview pane) but a closer representation would reduce the amount of back and forth which is currently, a painstaking slow part of the development process.
What feature above all others would you like to see in the next version?
The biggest feature I would like to see is the inclusion of a multi-threaded background FTP processing option which would allow me to work, FTP and also view the status of all of the files being uploaded at the same time. There is a lot of valuable time lost with the inability to work on any files within a site while Uploading/Downloading files that could be completely unrelated to what I am working on. I also think that the "Auto-Complete" Code should be made optional to the developer while typing (not just through a universally controlled preference). It would be useful (possibly with the use of a quick key) to either auto insert a closing tag or not insert the closing tag while typing depending upon the situation.
How do you incorporate Dreamweaver into your approach to website design?
Dreamweaver is rarely involved in my approach to site “design” (from an artistic standpoint in Adobe Photoshop) simply because I know that I can build out any design using it. From an architectural/development/buildout standpoint, Dreamweaver is heart and soul of my process of bringing together all of the data, Flash, graphics, programming languages, ideas, resources and emotion that go into any site visually and functionally. I consider Dreamweaver to be the Project Manager or the architect of any site I am a part of. The design phase is a small part of building a website and the majority of my time and resources are often spent in Dreamweaver rather than Photoshop or Flash.