What s New in Dreamweaver 8

What's New in Dreamweaver 8

If you've used Dreamweaver before, you'll notice that while some things look very similar, some things also look very different. A comprehensive description of all the new features in Dreamweaver 8 would take up an entire chapter or possibly an entire book, so here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Background file transfer: Tired of twiddling your thumbs while Dreamweaver is uploading files? Now you can keep working while files transfer in the background. See Chapter 2 for more details.

  • Zoom: You can now zoom in on a page to inspect images or work with a complex table layout, or zoom out to preview how a page looks. There's more about the Zoom tool in Chapter 6.

  • Guides: If you're used to guides in other graphical applications, you'll be thrilled that they're now in Dreamweaver. They're great for making sure that images and divs are placed exactly where you want them to be. Chapter 6 gives the details about laying out your pages.

  • Workspace layouts: As mentioned earlier in this chapter, you can use one of the included default layouts, or customize and save your own.

  • Tabbed documents for Mac: Mac users are no longer second-class citizens having to do without tabs. With Dreamweaver 8, tabbed document windows make it simple to move between open documents.

  • Compare files: You can now use your own preferred file comparison tool when you want to compare files to find out what's changed. You can compare two local files, a local file to a remote file, or two remote files.

  • Paste Special: Dreamweaver has new pasting options: you can retain any Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel source formatting or just paste the text. Chapters 4 and 14 cover making Dreamweaver work with other applications.

  • A new approach to CSS: There are a multitude of new CSS- related enhancements in Dreamweaver 8, from the new CSS panel to CSS rendering improvements. These will all be covered in detail in Chapter 5.

  • The Style Rendering toolbar: Mentioned briefly above, you can use the Style Rendering toolbar to view content based on CSS media types.

  • And many, many more ...

Chapter 2. Starting Your First Site

Dreamweaver is all about building sites. Sure, it has all of the tools you need to create great Web pages. But the basic building block is the site, not the page. You need to define a site in Dreamweaver, which will then be the container for all of the files and folders that will make up your Web site.

When you build sites, you will start by creating and testing the site on your local machine. Then, when the site is ready, you will send it over the Internet to your Web server, where it will go live for all the world to see. Dreamweaver has all the tools you'll need to create the site, work with its files and folders, and then transfer it to the Web server. That's what we'll be covering in this chapter. So let's get started!

Understanding Local and Remote Sites

Dreamweaver 8 can do a great job of helping you manage all the files and folders that make up your Web site, but for the best results, you'll need to use the program's site management tools to set up and maintain the site. First, you need to understand some of the terminology Dreamweaver uses for sites. You'll want to build and test your Web site within a single folder on your hard disk, which Dreamweaver calls the local root folder . This folder contains all of the files and folders that make up the site. For example, let's say that you're building a company site that has two sections in it, one for product information (called products ), and the other for information about the company (called companyinfo ). Each of the two sections gets its own folder. These folders are located inside the local root folder (which in this example I'm calling MyCompany ). Because each section shares some of the same graphic images, there is also an images folder in the local root folder. The site structure would look something like Figure 2.1 . With one exception, each of the Web pages that you build for the site will go into either the products or companyinfo folder. The exception is the main site page (the one that people see when they load your site in their browsers). That's called the index page , and it usually goes in the local root folder (which is also called the local site ).

Figure 2.1. The top folder here is the local root folder, which contains all of the files and folders that make up the Web site.

Static versus Dynamic Sites

There are two main kinds of Web sites that you can create in Dreamweaver: static sites, where you build all of the pages of the site on your local machine, then upload them to the Web server; and dynamic sites, in which all the pages are created from information drawn from a database. The content from a dynamic page is created when the user loads the page. Many e-commerce sites are dynamic sites; for example, when you go to Amazon.com and see pages that greet you by name and offer personalized recommendations, those pages are created and served just for you, based on the programming of Amazon's database.

We're covering how to build static sites with Dreamweaver in this book. When we run into options that Dreamweaver offers to work with dynamic sites, we'll mention that, but we generally will not cover those options in detail in this book. If you're interested in using Dreamweaver to create dynamic pages, check out Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Advanced for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickPro Guide , by Lucinda Dykes.

After you build the pages for your site, you will use Dreamweaver to copy all of the files and folders (usually over the Internet) to the Web server. Dreamweaver replicates the folder structure from your hard disk on the Web server, so the site's structure and all of the links between the pages are preserved. Dreamweaver refers to the copy of the site on the Web server as the remote site . The remote site should always be a mirror image of your local site, and Dreamweaver has tools that can synchronize the two sites (you'll learn more about that later in this chapter and in Chapter 16).


  • Strictly speaking, you don't have to create all of your site's files within the local root folder. But if you do not, Dreamweaver will often put up dialogs complaining that files aren't in a local site, and you'll lose access to very useful Dreamweaver features, such as the ability to automatically update all links to a file that has been moved to another location in the site. We strongly recommend that you always build your pages in a local site, and keep all of the elements that make up those pages in the local root folder.

  • If you were using Dreamweaver's ability to work with sites built using a database, you could have a third copy of your site on a testing or staging server .