Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual

by Don Pasewark

For those of you who don't have any idea what Dreamweaver MX is let me start by giving you my totally unbiased opinion: Dreamweaver MX is the BEST tool out there for creating web sites (Sorry GoLive fans!). Especially when your web sites have to include Databases, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) or any of a plethora of complex add-ons that basic HTML doesn't even come close to handling. Heck, even if you just want to use HTML, Dreamweaver MX 2004 makes that task really easy.

When asked to review Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Missing Manual and I would get to keep the book. Great! Another "How To" book that will collect dust and hardly be used. I'm one of those people who regularly buys "Missing Manuals" or "Classrooms in a Book", etc. but then never reads them as I have to avoid reading manuals at ALL costs. My VCR still blinks 12:00 am. No, really it does!

Okay. What do I think of the book?

I won't make you read this whole review - its very good! But then again O'Reilly books are usually very good. Chock full of tips and tricks and does so in a very readable manner. It covers basic HTML applications and advanced operations like databases and dynamic content. It also points out the functional differences between Macs and PCs rather plainly.

Overall it's a very good reference and goes into detail on almost every subject in step by step detail. If you use Dreamweaver frequently, this book will be very helpful even if you think you really know the application.

The chapter entitled "The Dreamweaver Test Drive" does a good job explaining the basics of HTML and does a good job explaining functions like building a form.
As much as I think this book is great I do have to say that I'm a fan of CSS and I think the manual could have gone into more detail about all the cool things one can do with advanced CSS. But if you want to get started with CSS this book will give you all the info you need to use those features with Dreamweaver.

If you want to get really adventurous read Chapter 21 "Getting started with Dynamic Web Sites". The book does a great job of explaining the concepts.

I also feel the tutorials are good. What's nice about this particular book is, you can download files from the book's web site and work through the tutorials. Nice!

Dreamweaver MX is very customizable and there is a whole section devoted to customizing Dreamweaver MX. Extensions, keyboard shortcuts and lists some sources for application extensions.

I just finished a website for Photographer Herb Greene http://www.herbgreene.com I have referred to Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Missing Manual on a several occasions and found it very helpful. I've gotten used to using Dreamweaver in split mode (code on top, layout on bottom) and I manage the code as I develop the site. A real time saver - I used to create the pages in Dreamweaver and then massage them in BBEdit afterwards. Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Missing Manual has been helpful on more than one occasion.

Here is a list of features in Dreamweaver that Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Missing Manual covers:

HTML, CSS, XHTML, forms, fonts, site setup for remote servers, how to embed flash movies, and Java Applets. Snippets and Libraries Dynamic Data, and Web Database Records.

I do have to suggest that beginners might want to consider taking some basic courses in Dreamweaver and HTML. Combine that with Dreamweaver MX 2004 - The Missing Manual and you'll really get a solid grasp of web development.

Author: David Sawyer McFarland
Edited by David Pogue
Published by Pouge Press/O'Reilly