Playing with Dreamweaver MX 2004 | September 18, 2003
I've been playing around with DWMX 2004 today to check out it's new features. I started off by opening up a few CSS based websites to see how they rendered. The WHSmith site I just finished rendered fine. Much better than in DWMX. However the message website looked pretty much as bad as it did in DWMX. Considering they are both very similar in terms of layout, I was a little perplexed about the differences. So the CSS rendering is a little better than before, but by no means perfect.
Next I had a look at the new browser bug checking feature. This was something pushed at the recent Macromedia event in Brighton, despite this functionality having been in GoLive for some years.
Running some (validated) sites thought the browser checker came up with some interesting issues. Firstly apparently Netscape 6, Opera 6.0 and 7.0 and Safari don't support the title attribute when applied to an image, something which surprised me a little. Secondly apparently the name attribute is required for input tags in Mozilla 1.0, Safari 1.0 and Netscape 7.0. Again, I thought name was deprecated in place of ID's but I guess not.
I then had a play with the CSS code hinting feature. I've bee a longtime actionscripter, so love the code hinting in Flash MX. I was looking forward to CSS code hinting and wasn't disappointed. It's a great memory jog if you cant remember certain styles/attributes and it takes some of the grind out of typing. Generally very handy. I basically use DWMX as a glorified text editor with a built in FTP client and a really good find and replace mechanism, so this is the feature I'll get the most use out of.
The revised CSS panel is nice. Now, when you click on a style it opens up the relevant stylesheet and jumps to that particular style. It's a small thing i know, but quite handy. In DWMX I'd find myself constantly going to the site window to open up a stylesheet, making an amend and then closing it down again, so being able to do this from the design panel will hopefully speed things up a little.I quite like the fact that the body properties panel now sets styles rather than display specific html attributes. However it's a shame that all this is written into the page and not as an external style sheet. The same is true when adding text formatting. It's now all done using CSS (not font tags) but it's still all done in the document and not in an external style sheet. This could end up being a big pain, especially for people not used to CSS as they could end up with styles all over the place.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in performance. It was actually a lot slower than using DWMX. This may have been because I had the browser bug checking feature on but still there were times when it was painfully slow. However it hasn't crashed my OS once yet (touch wood) so that's a big improvement on my 1-2 daily crashes on DWMX.
However overall I liked DWMX 2004. Not a major upgrade and no real killer features. The UI has been tweaked to improve workflow. CSS support is better, but by no means perfect. A few nice little touches have been added. I especially like the fact that the file browser has been integrated into the main panel set's rather than floating around on it's own (I think this was just a Mac thing though).
I probably wouldn't advise people to rush out and buy it, but if you currently use DWMX and do a lot of CSS work, it's probably worth getting the upgrade just for the code hinting and marginally improved rendering.
I'd give it a 6/10.
Posted at September 18, 2003 6:56 PM