The Macromedia Exchange is the one-stop shop for all your Dreamweaver MX extension needs. Macromedia has set up the Macromedia Exchange to act as the one source for obtaining, learning about, creating, and sharing extensions. Macromedia tests the extensions that are on their site, so you can rest assured that you're getting something that is functional and meets a set of criteria. Now Macromedia doesn't guarantee the quality of that functionality, but they do give their approval to many of the extensions posted. Let's dig in and explore this site a bit.
Figure 24.10 shows the home page of the Macromedia Exchange. As you can see, there are extensions, tags, and other goodies for just about every product Macromedia offers, and it's all accessible from this page.
Figure 24.10: The Macromedia Exchange is the best source for extensions for all your Macromedia products.
Notice that Dreamweaver also contains Fireworks extensions and that Dreamweaver UltraDev still has its own category. At the time of this writing, Macromedia had only recently added Dream- weaver MX extensions to the Macromedia Exchange, so you can really get to the Dreamweaver MX extensions from either Dreamweaver link. Click the Dreamweaver link to open a screen similar to that in Figures 24.11, 24.12, and 24.13.
Figure 24.11: You'll have to log in to use the Macromedia Exchange.
Figure 24.12: More of the Macromedia Exchange main page
Figure 24.13: The rest of the Exchange main page
Before you can download extensions from the Macromedia Exchange, you'll have to log in. Most of the extensions are free, so registering wasn't a problem for us. There are several items of interest on this page as well.
The Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver home page lists news about Dreamweaver MX, as well as categories showing the top five downloaded extensions, the five newest extensions added to the Macromedia Exchange, and a link to the newest version of Macromedia Extension Manager.
To find extensions, you can search by extension type by clicking the Browse Extensions drop- down list box at the top of the page. You'll see a list of extensions that fall into the category you chose. For example, we chose "Learning" from the drop-down list, which yielded the results shown in Figure 24.14.
Figure 24.14: Quickly find extensions by choosing a category from the Browse Extensions drop-down list box.
Most of the extensions on Macromedia Exchange are free. They're added to the site by nice, community-minded developers who are giving back to the Dreamweaver MX community. You must pay for some extensions listed on the site. Developers who make their living by bringing you excellent, commercial-grade code to make your development life easier provide these extensions. Whatever your needs, you're sure to find an extension or two to add to your copy of Dreamweaver MX..
You can also search for extensions by keyword or phrase by entering text in the Search Extensions text box at the top of the page. Again, you'll be presented with a list of extensions that match your criteria. But the best way to find confirmed Dreamweaver MX extensions is through the Advanced Search, shown in Figure 24.15
Figure 24.15: The Advanced Search page lets you find Dreamweaver MX-specific extensions.
Select Dreamweaver MX from the Your Product drop-down list box, and then select any other criteria you'd like to use to filter your search. As you can see, you can narrow your search to be as specific as you could possibly get with extensions. Now why, you may ask, would you want to look for Dreamweaver MX-specific extensions? Read on.
Using the Macromedia Exchange is basically just like using any web-based search engine-you enter the criteria that match what you're looking for and wait for the results. But, at this time, Macromedia hasn't completed its testing of the prior extensions with Dreamweaver MX; therefore, it can't guarantee that every extension you find on the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver works with Dreamweaver MX. Many Dreamweaver 4 and Dreamweaver UltraDev extensions have yet to be tested. They will probably work fine in Dreamweaver MX, but until Macromedia has a chance to test them all (more than 600 at this writing), they recommend that you search for Dreamweaver MX-specific extensions- unless, of course, you don't mind possibly encountering errors with those untested extensions.
So how do you know which are Dreamweaver MX-specific and have been tested? Aside from searching for Dreamweaver MX specifically, you can check the specific extension's page for a variety of information, including whether it works specifically with Dreamweaver MX. Figure 24.16 shows you an example of an extension page.
Figure 24.16: The extension information page for the Abbreviation and Acronym extension
This page, which extends for several screens beyond the area illustrated, contains tons of information about the particular extension, which will help you select the correct one for your needs. Let's explore this information:
Category Identifies the category of the extension and also links back to the Category page or the main Exchange page.
Name The extension's complete name
Features A description of what the extension does
Developer URL The web page of the developer of the extension
Support Info Any special information needed to use the extension or get it working
Discuss You can discuss the extension with other Macromedia Exchange users by clicking the Discussion Forum link.
Review You can read reviews-if any-and post your own about the extension.
Sample URL Generally, the developer will include a URL link to a web page where the extension is in use or will include a link to more information about the extension.
Download Extension You can download the extension in either Macintosh or Windows version. Notice the installation instruction information? This is just generic information about how to download and use Macromedia Extension Manager.
Author The author's name
Date The date the extension was added to the Macromedia Exchange.
Version The version of the particular extension
Type What type of extension this is (the extensions category)
Environment Lists whether the extension works only for a particular server or development environment, such as PHP.
Downloads Tells you how many times the extension has been downloaded (which could be a gauge to its popularity).
Rating Gives you information about its user rating-what score it has out of 5-if the extension has been rated. Macromedia Exchange encourages the user community to rate the extensions it uses.
Approval Lets you know whether the extension passes basic testing or whether it passes the more rigorous testing to receive the Macromedia Approved rating. Extensions that have Macromedia Approved rating status will have the Macromedia "M" logo in this entry.
Browsers Lists any browser restrictions for this extension
Platforms Lists the platforms on which the extension works
Required Products Lists the minimum requirements for using the extension
Supported Products Lists the products for which the extension has been tested and confirmed to work
Read the reviews of the extension before you download it! The reviews will help you decide if an extension is right for your needs. They frequently point out pitfalls or praises, which can save you time in the long run. Also, once you use an extension, give back a little to the Dreamweaver MX community by writing a review about it. It'll help everyone and give you a warm fuzzy about yourself.
On the CD-Rom Once you've confirmed that this is the extension you want, download it and install it using Macromedia Extension Manager. That's all there is to it. You've mastered extensions. Now, let's take a look at some of the many extensions that we've found to be particularly useful. You'll also find many of them on the CD, so you don't necessarily have to download them from the web.