3.07.2009

The Relevance of Dreamweaver in the Web 2.0 Era

Out with the Old, In with the New?

For over three years now, I have been developing websites. In those three years I have gradually begun working less and less with the Adobe Creative Suite software Adobe Dreamweaver. This may come as a surprise to some people, as Dreamweaver has become the widely acknowledged website creation software. In fact it is one of the few softwares out there for developers to use for accurate HTML code creation and coding supplementation. Yet certain aspects of the software do seem to have been trumped by other more efficient software programs.

After reading a recent article posted on PC Pro's blog, I'm Sorry, but Dreamweaver is Dying, I decided to evaluate for myself, as unbiased as possible, the relevance of Adobe Dreamweaver in the Web 2.0 era. Feel free to let me know your own opinions on the issue by posting a comment or contacting me.

Adobe Dreamweaver - the Webutante - graphic design & web development resource blog

Problems with the Adobe Dreamweaver Software:

  • CSS Management. CSS Edit handles Cascading Style Sheets substantially better than Dreamweaver is able to. Although CSS Edit is only available to Mac users, a majority of web developers are Mac users, thus it does not usually present a problem. CSS Edit is efficiently organized, offers more prompts, better legibility, and ease of use. CSS Edit simply offers better CSS control than Adobe Dreamweaver is capable of at this point.
  • Computer Space and Functioning. Pretty much any Creative Suite software tends to take up quite a bit of space on a computer, and Dreamweaver is no exception. If you don't have a computer with abundant memory and ram, well...you probably don't have the Adobe Creative Suite on there.
  • Lowers Web Standards. Dreamweaver is often abused by what I like to call "semi-professionals" - people who know Dreamweaver and nothing else (mention 'W3C standards' to these people and you will get a blank stare). This is because Dreamweaver allows these "semi-professionals" to utilize, essentially, web cheats. I'm referring to all of those Dreamweaver functions that don't abide by standards or don't allow for cross-browser functionality - using tables for design elements, an overabundance of inline styling, a formidable use of JavaScript for rollover navigations, not to mention the dreadful 'Change all Tables to AP Divs' button (or the 'Change all AP Divs to Tables' Button).... shutter.
  • Updating Constraints. As mentioned in PC Pro's article, Dreamweaver does not offer a means to produce editability, excluding Adobe Contribute, a software (which would have to be bought separately for an additional $200.00) that offers a means of editing the website....and also a means of severely f***ing up a website!
  • Static Functionality. Along the same lines as the previous issue, Dreamweaver really only provides for static functionality. And let's face it, the web is transforming somewhat into an ever dynamic, omni-functional universe where people update their Twitter status twice an hour, and upload their pictures from the party last night the minute they get shake the hangover... dynamic functionality is pretty important in regards to the Internet. Static websites still have a role on the web, although it's pretty much limited to companies in need of an online 'brochure presence.'

HOWEVER!!
PC Pro severely confines the direction of the web by declaring the 'Death of Dreamweaver.' I agree with PC Pro that PHP is an excellent tool to know and learn, and I do build my websites using the basics of PHP functionality. I also agree that Drupal and Joomla are, too, excellent tools to understand as well as know how to set up and use. But there are two main issues with the 'programming takeover' argument suggested by PC Pro that I have:

  • The notion that the web developer's role diminishes with the onset of Web 2.0 (and the 'Death of Dreamweaver') and that all developers need to rush out and learn programming is, in my opinion, fairly naive as it completely ignores the fundamental basis of web development. Behind every Facebook and Twitter, there was a talented designer constructing a clean website to entertain its functionality, and there was also a few brilliant web developers carefully constructing the website (probably in Dreamweaver) using proper coding and W3C compliant HTML and CSS. This all occured before the website was handed to the pear shaped guys drinking 3 Jolts a day who came up with the programming. To minimize the role of the web developer in a website projects is as misguided as curtailing the role of Steve Jobs in regards to Apple. Not smart. Not accurate.
  • There are many other ways to achieve client editability or dynamic functionality on the web other than programming. Dreamweaver allows one, Adobe Contribute (whether you like it or not, it is still an option; even I have used it several times). Another example is Cushy CMS (which can be implemented by using styles in Dreamweaver). In fact, for more examples, just visit my recent post: 10 Client-Side Editability Options. I discuss the most efficient methods to achieve dynamism, including (and expanding upon) Contribute, Drupal and Joomla.

Along with those issues I have with PC Pro's 'Death of Dreamweaver' declaration, I also have another, very powerful, problem: Dreamweaver is the most useful and all-around efficient web development tool that exists on the market right now. Dreamweaver can still be appreciated for its expediency in coding and noteworthy tag prompts. Automatic tag finishes - for instance: you start with the p (for paragraph) tag, when you are done with your tag, dreamweaver you put your bracket and a slash (to indicate closing) and dreamweaver will automatically place the p after the slash and close the bracket for you- save a substantial amount of time for web developers. I actually have built entire websites in notepad (or Text Edit for Mac users) before. But I have to say, it is NO FUN and an unrewarding experience all in all. It can be tedious and frustrating and downright time consuming. Not to mention, if you do build a website in PHP, the automatic echo and array button are pretty convenient compared to finding another file with similar functioning and copying and pasting or simply memorizing the PHP format and typing it all out by hand (What do we look like, programmers?).

Maybe PC Pro is trying to tell Adobe to kick it up a notch with the Dreamweaver software..? It wasn't but a few years ago that Adobe valiantly bought out Macromedia and quickly bundled both Flash and Dreamweaver into their Creative Suite with CS2.3. I don't really believe anyone should underestimate Adobe's potential plans. That is not to say that Dreamweaver's role in the web world has not and will not be in the future much smaller than it once was; but, in my opinion, PC Pro should not have been nearly so quick to mock the importance of a once worshiped software and announce the 'Death of Dreamweaver.' To do so seems almost misguided and ignorant. I tend to believe that Dreamweaver will not be null and void in the web community until the day comes when it is replaced with a lighter, more concentrated version of itself.

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