How Dreamweaver is Configured

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Dreamweaver is unlike other commercial software. Most programs are created in a programming language like C++ and then are compiled into executable programs, meaning that you cannot delve into their structure to see how they were built or to adjust their functionality. It's become increasingly popular, over the last several years , for programs to offer plugin architecture, which allows third-party developers to create independent program modulescalled plugins, or Xtras, or Xtensions, or even filters, depending on the software involved. But these modules generally must also be constructed as compiled programs built in C++ or comparable languages.

See Chapter 29, "Creating Your Own Extensions," for a discussion of how to create your own extensions.

Dreamweaver, on the other hand, was built with the express idea of allowing users to modify or add to the basic core of the program. To do this, the engineers built Dreamweaver as a combination of a compiled C core , with most of the interface and many of its functions coded into external JavaScript, XML, and HTML files. These external files are called extensions . By editing these extensions, you can customize how Dreamweaver looks and works. By adding to them, you can add to Dreamweaver functionality. Although you have to know your way around JavaScript to create your own extensions, it takes only a fundamental knowledge of HTML and XML to customize an extension's interface. And the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver has hundreds of extensions written by other developers, available free or commercially for download and installation.

Working with the Configuration Folder

The key to all these menus , commands, and functions is the Configuration folder . This folder, located in the Dreamweaver Application folder, contains all the extension files for the program. Examine the Configuration folder, shown in Figure 28.1, and you'll recognize many of the folders inside it as matching Dreamweaver elements: Objects, Behaviors, Commands, Menus, Inspectors, and so on. Within those folders are the individual files that control the appearance and functionality of the different Dreamweaver interface elements. The general breakdown of file types within the folder is as follows :

Figure 28.1. The Dreamweaver Configuration folder and its contents.

  • HTML files provide the layout and interface elements for individual dialog boxes, panels, and inspectors.

  • The JavaScript filesand any JavaScript code embedded within the HTML filesprovide the functionality for the different extensions.

  • The XML files (with various filename extensions) provide the instructions Dreamweaver follows on how the different extensions should be integrated into the main program interface.

If you feel adventurous enough to tinker with these files, you can customize and even extend your Dreamweaver program. In this chapter, you'll get a chance to explore the HTML and XML files in the Configuration folder and changes you can make within them. The next chapter covers extending program functionality using JavaScript.

Before making any changes to the Configuration folder, it is vital that you make a backup copy so that you can return Dreamweaver to its original state in case anything gets corrupted. You can store your backup wherever you want; just make sure that you copy the whole folder!

Multiuser Support: The User Configuration Folder

Like all recent operating systems, Dreamweaver assumes that you might be working in a multiuser environment. This means that more than one person might be logging on to your computer, launching programs and customizing preferences. Dreamweaver creates multiuser configuration by having multiple Configuration folders. While the program's default configuration tasks are carried out by the main Configuration folder stored within the Dreamweaver application folder, each user also has his or her own Configuration folder.

For Dreamweaver/Windows, each user's personal configuration files are stored in

 c:\documents and settings\  username  \application data\macromedia\  dreamweaver mx\configuration\ 

For username , substitute your name , or perhaps Owner or Default User (depending on how your system is set up). Note that, unless you've been tinkering with your system settings, the Application Data folder is probably invisible. You need to make it visible (in Explorer, select Tools > Folder Options > View) before you can see, access, and possibly tweak any configuration files.

For Dreamweaver/Mac, each user's personal configuration files are stored in

 /users/  username  /library/application support/dreamweaver mx/ configuration 

None of this applies to Windows 98, which is the only operating system still supported by Dreamweaver that doesn't use a multiuser setup. Windows 98 Dreamweaver users have only one Configuration folderthe main folder in the Programs folder.

Substitute your login name for username. The folder is visible and not locked.

Examine one of these extra folders, and you'll see that it isn't a complete duplicate of the main Configuration folder. It contains only certain files, representing interface elements that need to be customized differently for each user. (In fact, if you've never launched Dreamweaver, the folder doesn't exist yet. It's only created as needed.) Preferences such as code coloring, menus that can be customized with keyboard shortcuts, commands that can be recorded using the History panel, and even objects that save their dialog box settings from one work session to another are all represented in the individual user's Configuration folder.

How important is this to you? If you're interested in being just a general Dreamweaver user, all you need to know about multiuser configuration is that it's happening. If you're a tinkerer, however, working with configuration files to customize your program, you need to know which Configuration folder contains the files you want to work with for any given task. The general rule is this: When looking for extension files, Dreamweaver always looks in the user's Configuration folder first. This means that if a file exists in that folder, Dreamweaver uses it (and doesn't use the duplicate file that exists in the main folder). Only if a particular extension file has no counterpart in the user's folder does Dreamweaver use the file in the main Configuration folder.

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Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 Demystified
Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 Demystified
ISBN: 0735713847
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 188
Authors: Laura Gutman © 2008-2017.
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