The World of Third-Party Extensions

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If you want to move beyond customizing Dreamweaver into extending its functionality, you're ready for some new extensions. If you want to take advantage of the programming prowess of others without having to write extensions yourself, you're ready for the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver and the Extension Manager.

Finding Extensions: The Macromedia Exchange

The Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver is a huge storehouse of extensions that Macromedia has collected and put on the Web for all to use. Although Macromedia wrote some of these extensions, the majority were written by independent developers who created the extensions to help themselves and who have agreed to share them with the Dreamweaver community. These extensions have been packaged in a common format (MXP) and put on the Exchange for everyone to use. Most are free, but a few are commercially produced and might have a small cost.

The Exchange is not the only place to find extensions. Many extension-writing Dreamweaver developers have extensions and have placed them and others on various websites .

You access the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver, shown in Figure 28.15, by pointing your browser to Hundreds of different extensions are available for adding all sorts of functionality to Dreamweavereverything from enabling site searches to installing lists of country codes to adding new Flash button styles. All extensions have been tested by Macromedia to ensure that they'll install and function correctly. Those with Macromedia approval have been tested more rigorously and meet Macromedia UI guidelines, so they blend in smoothly with the Dreamweaver interface. You can browse extensions by category or search by title or author. To download extensions, you need to sign up for a free Macromedia Exchange account.

Figure 28.15. The Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver, home to hundreds of (mostly) free extensions.

You can also access the Exchange from within Dreamweaver by choosing Help > Dreamweaver Exchange or any of the Get More commands, such as Insert > Get More Objects, Commands > Get More Commands, or the Get More Behaviors command at the bottom of the Behaviors panel's Actions pop-up menu. Choosing any of these commands launches your browser and takes you to the Exchange home page.

To download an extension from the Exchange, find the extension you want and follow the links to its download page. Choose the Windows or Mac version, and download. Extensions are usually very small files (most are less than 100KB) and therefore download quickly, even on slow connections. The downloaded file is a special installer file with the .mxp extension (Macromedia eXtension Package), which can be installed into Dreamweaver using the Extension Manager utility.

Installing and Managing Extensions: The Extension Manager

The Extension Manager (EM), shown in Figure 28.16, is a utility program used to install and manage your downloaded extensions. You can launch the Extension Manager from within Dreamweaver by choosing Commands > Manage Extensions or Help > Manage Extensions. You can also launch it from the desktop by selecting Start > Programs > Macromedia > Macromedia Extensions Manager (Windows) or by finding and launching it from within the /Applications/Macromedia Extension Manager folder (Mac). From the desktop, you can also double-click any MXP file to automatically launch the Extension Manager.

Figure 28.16. The Extension Manager interface showing several Dreamweaver extensions already installed.

The Extension Manager isn't just for Dreamweaver. It also installs and manages Flash and Fireworks extensions.

To install an extension using the Extension Manager, double-click the MXP file on your hard drive, which launches the EM and starts the installation process. You also can launch the EM separately and then choose File > Install Extension or click the Install icon in the Extension Manager window. During the installation process, extension files are added to the appropriate places in the user 's Configuration folder, and the user copies of any relevant XML files (such as Insertbar.xml or menus .xml ) are updated. Some extensions require that Dreamweaver be restarted before they appear in the interface; the EM alerts you if this is the case.

After the extension is installed, you can read all about it in the EM interface (refer to Figure 28.16). You can temporarily deactivate the extension by deselecting it in the extensions list. Or you can permanently delete it by selecting it and choosing File > Remove Extension or by clicking the Uninstall icon in the Extension Manager window.

In addition to installing extensions, the Extension Manager can be used to package files that make up an extension into MXP files, and even to submit them to the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver. See the section "Packaging Your Extensions" in Chapter 29 for more on this.

Exercise 28.3. Downloading and Installing the Line Remover Extension

In this exercise, you will download and install Sascha Frinken's Line Remover extension, a simple but handy command that stops Internet Explorer from leaving those ugly highlight boxes around links after you've clicked them. The boxes are meant to show that the link has focus and are intended to enhance usability, but they are very unpopular with many web designers. They are especially distracting when used with irregular-shaped hotspots in image maps.

The Line Remover extension is available on this book's website at, in case it's not available on the Exchange by the time you read this.

  1. From within Dreamweaver, choose Commands > Get More Commands. This launches your browser and takes you to the Macromedia Exchange for Dreamweaver.

  2. If you haven't already created a Macromedia user account, take a moment to do so now. It's as simple as entering a user ID and password.

  3. Because you know the extension you want, you can search for it. In the Exchange's search field, type Frinken , and click Search.

  4. After a moment, a list of Sascha Frinken's extensions appears. Find Line Remover and download it.

  5. Find the line remover file on your hard driveit's an MXP file called MX15575_line_remover.mxp and double-click it to launch the Extension Manager. You're prompted to agree to the Macromedia license for extensions (click Agree to continue). After a second or two, you get a message telling you that the extension was successfully installed. Congratulations!

  6. Examine the EM interface to learn more about this extension (see Figure 28.17). You'll see that it's a command, accessed through the Commands menu, and that it removes the lines from selected links. What could be simpler?

    Figure 28.17. The Line Remover extension as it appears in the Extension Manager.

  7. If Dreamweaver was running when you installed this extension, you didn't get prompted to quit and relaunch. That means that the extension should work right away. If Dreamweaver isn't running, launch it now.

  8. In Dreamweaver, create a new document, unless one is already open . Type click me . Select the words and use the Property Inspector to assign a null link (type # in the Link input field). Save the page.

  9. Preview the page in Internet Explorer, and see what happens when you click the link. The browser puts a line around the linked text.

  10. Back in Dreamweaver, choose Commands > line_remover. A dialog box opens, explaining what the extension will do, as shown in Figure 28.18. Click Do it! If you take a look at the Behaviors panel, or the code for your page, you'll see that some JavaScript has been added to cause the link to lose focus as soon as it's clicked. This makes the outline disappear.

    Figure 28.18. The Line Remover command in action.

  11. Preview the page in Internet Explorer again, and click the link. The blue box appears and then almost immediately disappears. That's your extension in action!

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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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