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Evaluation of Macromedia: Dreamweaver

The following is my evaluation of Macromedia's Dreamweaver as it would pertain to a non-developer audience. First, I've listed some of the Pros and Cons that I noticed throughout my 30 day evaluation period. Next, I've included the buying guide from the Dreamweaver web site (www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/). Finally, I've ranked this product as it pertains to the intended audience.

Below are some of the Pros and Cons I felt most strongly about when reviewing this product. This list is in no way complete, and the items are not listed in any particular order. Macromedia publishes a more complete list of features at www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/productinfo/newfeatures/.

Pros   Cons
  • WYSIWYG editing with layers/tables/frames
  • Doesn't change code of imported material
  • Can fix a couple tag/coding errors like nested tag errors or removing closing tags
  • FTP ability
  • CSS editor
  • Some support for DHTML and XML
  • Optional SSI translation capability
  • Pretty good documentation
  • Very good site mapping ability
  • Tag highlighting for unpaired tags
  • Can edit HTML through external editors
  • Check In/Out feature for server files
  • Nice template feature allows application of templates after pages have been created (it's a disadvantages for complex pages)
  • Can save site maps as BMP/PNG files
  • Powerful replace function
  • Able to customize tags
 
  • Defaults are not easy to change (i.e. <P> tags instead of <BR>)
  • There is a fairly long, sloping learning curve
  • Pasting text makes line breaks in odd places
  • Cleanup function doesn't clean tabs
  • Creates extra files on both hard drive and server for every file edited
  • Very few Java/JavaScript add-ins
  • Has problem with simple text to table conversion
  • Keeps loosing connection with remote hosts
  • Adds Dreamweaver comments into code
 
How to Buy Dreamweaver 2.0
The following was taken from Macromedia's web site:
The Macromedia Education Volume License Program (EVLP) offers schools and universities the opportunity to realize substantial, cumulative savings on software over a two-year license period and beyond. Upgrades count toward establishing volume discount levels and subscription is available to ensure that schools have the most current versions of Macromedia software.

Program details
  • The EVLP has the following four volume discount levels: 25-49 units, 50-99 units, 100-300 units, and 300+ units.
  • Leverage current 10-pack licenses with new EVLP purchases to determine your discount level.
  • Upgrades are included with full units to establish a school's total volume discount level. For example, 30 new licenses plus 20 upgrades qualify for the 50-unit discount level initially.
  • 90-day free technical support per purchase (US and Canada only). International customers will receive free technical support from Macromedia authorized distributors.
Benefits
  • Discounts starting with a volume purchase of only25 units.
  • Mix and match Macromedia products to reachdiscount levels.
  • The EVLP is a cumulative program. As youpurchase additional products during a two-yearlicense, you reach higher discount levels.
  • The EVLP offers a subscription option for all currentproducts which provides upgrades for up to twoyears from your initial volume purchase.
One of local resellers is listed below. I received a quote from Shane Davenport for 25-50 academic licenses at $64 each ($1600-$3200).

Contact Info
Shane Davenport
Account Executive
713.789.6300 x 1221
Fax: 713.789.6390
shane.davenport@pcpeople.com
PC People, Inc.
2900 Rodgerdale
Houston, Tx 77042
713.789.6300
800.877.9761
 
Intended Audience
I would rank the usability of Dreamweaver for the non-developer audience as fairly high. There is somewhat of a learning curve associated with it. It does lend itself to readily available help screens and on-line help. It is graphically oriented with HTML on the side for the authors who desire to look at it. It does allow for seamless use of files on the server with its 'Check Out/Check In' feature. Templates allow designers and content providers to separate job functions.

About the only major disadvantage I found was that it did not cleanup imported code like I had hoped; this is a minor inconvenience at best. Other tricky details that may fall out during the course of learning its quirks include the insertion of paragraph tags compared to line break tags, having to go through the code to fix Java and JavaScript applications, tweaking program defaults and option windows for things such as spell checking and search/replace functions.

In summary, Dreamweaver, with its multitude of functions could be a powerful tool for designing, editing, and managing web pages. Some of its limitations might not bode well with more advanced users, but it does produce code that is manageable for the majority of CIS users.