Floating panels, or floaters, are what Dreamweaver calls all of its panels other than the Property inspectorthe Layers panel, the Behaviors panel, the CSS Styles panel, the Code inspector, and so on. They're all floaters. Floaters don't have the layout restrictions of Property inspectors, because they don't have to fit in the Property inspector panel framework. They can be any shape and do anything. Do you remember the "Welcome!" message window that popped up, the first time you launched Dreamweaver 4? A floater. The helpful window that comes up to tell you about using Layout view? Yep, that's a floater , too. Floaters can be tabbed and docked together, or not; they can contain text, form elements, graphics; they can interact with the document and reflect user edits or not. They're pretty flexible and potent little guys. Macromedia recommends using Property inspectors when possible, instead of clogging up the interface with more floating panels than the program already has; but when you need one, there they are. Figure 7.1 shows a selection of diverse floaters in action. In this chapter, we'll learn how the floater API works and how to strategize, create, and use floaters for various purposes.
Figure 7.1. A selection of Dreamweaver floaters, showing the variety of size , shape, layout, and purpose they're capable of.