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The intuitive, clean, and powerful Dreamweaver document-editing environment has always been one of the program's strengths, of course. Although the look and feel of the Document window hasn't changed with Dreamweaver MX 2004, various features have been toned up to create a more tightly integrated working experience.
For many web designers, tables represent a large part of every day's work activities; yet they're also inherently complex and difficult to handle, even in a graphic environment. Dreamweaver has always had a good set of table-editing tools. Dreamweaver MX 2004 adds two new design aids for building tables.
The Table Widths bar (available from the Document toolbar in the View Options > Visual Aids submenu) displays a horizontal ribbon of width information about any selected table, similar to the information display that accompanies tables in Layout Mode. The bar not only displays dimension information, but it also gives users access to a drop-down menu of selection and editing commands (see Figure 1.8).
Another viewing aid, Expanded Tables mode (View > Table Mode > Expanded Tables Mode), is a lifesaver for those using borderless tables for page layout. In Expanded Tables mode, Dreamweaver displays all tables with a border, cell padding, and cell spacing so that the table structure is visually obvious, and even tiny cells are easy to see and select (see Figure 1.9). The code behind the table isn't changed, so the table still behaves and displays as normal in the browser; for designing, though, Expanded Tables mode might be an eye-opening experience.
For those of you who like working with Layout mode, it's still there, and a few coding tweaks have improved its reliability. Tables created in Layout mode no longer require a height attribute, although layout cells still do, and the Layout Table Property Inspector now sports a button for deleting row heights. Layout cells are now created with nonbreaking spaces, eliminating the display problems that empty cells once caused in browsers. And it's more difficult to accidentally draw a layout table in midair, creating a table that's accidentally nested inside another table.
Finally, as a very subtle change, deferred table update in Standard mode is a thing of the past. Tables now automatically shrink back to size as soon as large content is deleted, eliminating the need to click outside the table to display the Design view display.
Creating documents that work well in target browsers is crucial to web authoring. So it only makes sense that Dreamweaver's document-validation features should occupy a more prominent place in the interface. And so it is! Dreamweaver can now automatically check documents' browser compatibility on opening, and the Document toolbar sports either a handy OK icon to tell you all is well or a warning icon to let you know there are problems. Clicking the icon gives you access to settings and controls, including a much-improved interface for choosing browser versions to test against (see Figure 1.10). The main Validate and Check Target Browser commands are still at home in the File menu as well, for those of you who are accustomed to finding them there.
You've inserted an image into your page. Now you realize that it looks awful . You want to resize it, resample it, and fix the color correction and the cropping. Guess what? You can do it all from within Dreamweaver, using the new improved Image Property Inspector (see Figure 1.11). For those of you using Fireworks, the Optimize in Fireworks command (formerly hidden away in the Commands menu) now has its very own button here as well.
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