Macromedia Dreamweaver 8

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Brilliant and dreadful in one paradoxical..."

    January 16, 2006  |   By Martin Turner--2008


    This review was originally posted on
    Dreamweaver is dreadful, unintuitive, not wysiwig at all, confusing, inconsistent, inefficient.

    Oh, hang on. That's HTML and web-browsers.

    Dreamweaver is brilliant, practical, useful, a work of art in wrestling the wild-animals of HTML into a unified creation.

    Orâ?¦ maybeâ?¦

    The truth is that Dreamweaver is the best there is, and it's been the best there is through the last three versions I've owned. But even the best is annoying and at times almost unuseable.

    Comparing web-development packages with almost any other kind of software is an unfair comparison. I don't expect QuarkXpress or InDesign to offer me a fundamentally different layout if I choose to print on a different kind of paper, and I don't expect PowerPoint to parse my document differently depending on whether I project it with a Sanyo or a Sony.

    But this is exactly the environment in which web-development software moves. Essentially it's a free-lance interface for a rag-bag of code which has grown up over four generations and is implemented differently in different browsers. Now Dreamweaver has to cope with CSS, which is even less conistently implemented.

    Of course, you can chicken out and write your entire site in Flash and in Slices, but then you're really asking users to give you a miss.

    Ultimately, Dreamweaver is a toolkit. Some of the tools are mature and verging on perfection. Its support for layers and layout tables is excellent. Other tools - like adding HTML tags - are a bit variable. Some tools, like CSS support, are decidedly flakey. Do something clever, like CSS drop-down menus, and Dreamweaver looks at you blankly like it doesn't get the joke.

    I thought long and hard about upgrading. I'm glad I did. The background FTP support is enough to make this version worth it on its own. But the enhanced Contribute support is amazing, and beats some very expensive CMS solutions hands down.

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