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Product: Dreamweaver CS3
Company: Adobe
$399.00 Upgrade: $195
Review By: Andre Da Costa

Considered the defacto standard when it comes to web development, Dreamweaver is such a powerful design application that it succeeded in replacing Adobe’s own GoLive with the CS3 release which came as a part of the Macromedia acquisition. Dreamweaver CS3 focuses on tighter integration across popular Adobe standards such as Photoshop, Flash, Fireworks and Device Central. Lets take a further look at some of the new and improved enhancements in this release:

New Features:

  • Spry framework for Ajax
    Visually design, develop, and deploy dynamic user interfaces using the Spry framework for Ajax. Add interactivity, speed, and usability while reducing page refreshes.

  • Spry data
    Integrate data into web pages using XML from an RSS feed or a database. Integrated data can be easily sorted and filtered.

  • Spry widgets
    Easily add common interface components such as lists, tables, tabs, form validation, and repeatable regions to web pages with widgets from the Spry framework for Ajax.

  • Spry effects
    Easily add visual transitions to page elements to make them grow, shrink, fade, highlight, and more with the Spry effects for Ajax.

  • Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks integration
    Copy and paste directly from Adobe® Photoshop® CS3 or Adobe Fireworks® CS3 into Adobe Dreamweaver® CS3 to leverage assets from your prototype in your finished project.

  • Browser Compatibility Check
    Save time and ensure a more consistent experience across browsers and operating systems with the new Browser Compatibility Check. Generate reports that identify CSS-related issues in a variety of browsers, without needing to launch the browsers.

  • CSS Advisor website
    Find fast solutions to browser-specific CSS issues with the new CSS Advisor website, an online community featuring a wealth of user-contributed solutions and insight.

  • CSS layouts
    Easily incorporate CSS into your project with the new CSS layouts. Extensive comments in each template explain the layout, so beginning and intermediate designers can learn quickly. Each template can be customized for your project.

  • CSS management
    Easily move CSS code from inline to head, from head to external sheet, from document to document, or between external sheets. Cleaning up existing CSS in older pages has never been easier.

  • Adobe Device Central CS3
    Design, preview, and test mobile device content using Adobe Device Central, now integrated throughout Adobe Creative Suite® 3.

As you can see, Dreamweaver CS3 is an enticing upgrade for web developers who want to modernize their web design and development environment and processes. Supporting new technologies like Spry framework for Ajax which includes JavaScript, CSS, and HTML for building interactive user interfaces. These new features allow developers to take advantage of the power of standards like Ajax which stands for (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) which focuses on creating more dynamic, richer and responsive web pages that provide a more functional experience for the end user. The Spry framework is a JavaScript/HTML library, accessible to both developers and designers.

Some of the rich functionality of Spry Effects includes the ability to add visual transitions to page elements, effects such as grow, shrink, fade and highlight to almost any element on an HTML page. Effects don’t require any server-side logic or scripting to accomplish. When a person is viewing your web page browses an HTML page and triggers an effect, only the object to which effect is applied gets updated; the entire page doesn’t need to be refreshed.

Spry Widgets make it possible to add dynamic user interface elements to web pages with little or no manual coding. Spry widgets are pre-built components that you can customize using  CSS, and then add to your web pages. They include CML-driven list and tables, accordions, tabbed interfaces, and form elements with validation. Until now, these objects have been difficult to build and required advanced coding skills. Spry widgets make this process easy and flexible. Users new to Dreamweaver will welcome their simplicity. Professional coders will appreciate the deeper level of customizability Spry widgets offer.

integration with Flash, Photoshop and Fireworks 

Dreamweaver CS3 enhancements make using SWF files easy. Simple dialog boxes let you modify parameters such as loop, auto play, quality, and scaling, as well as pass parameters to the SWF, on an instance-by-instance basis. You can even preview the SWF without switching to a browser. When edits are required, you can open the original FLA file with click of a single button. If you are not accustomed to using Flash, you can still work with Dreamweaver by adding interactive Flash elements to your web pages.

Using the Insert menu, you can create buttons and text elements, and then configure labels, styles, and actions to suit your needs. You can even insert Flash video files and customize the look and performance of the player skin.

With the improved Photoshop integration, Dreamweaver helps simplify repetitive processes of converting design mock-ups into web ready content for the web. Now you can simply select any port of a design in Photoshop – even across multiple layers – and paste it directly into the Design or Code view in Dreamweaver, even into CSS rules. Dreamweaver will present a dialog box where you can specify optimization options for the image. Should you ever need to edit the image, simply Control double click on the image and the original layered PSD file opens in Photoshop for editing. Insert selections, slices or even entire native Photoshop files with layer selection. With Fireworks, you can prototype websites for approval quickly and easily export assets for use in Dreamweaver. You can import entire Fireworks HTML files and bring all assets, complete with JavaScript behaviours, into your web page. You can take advantage of Dreamweaver’s exceptional scripting support to create Fireworks extensions to enhance the existing power of Fireworks.

Cross-Browser Compatibility Check & Css Advisor 

Web Designers and Developers often face the unbearable task of ensuring their content looks, works and operates the same way across multiple web browser platforms. Issues often arise in areas of consistency and performance, not to mention appropriate Cascading Style Sheet Adherence. The new Cross Browser Compatibility Check and CSS Advisor in Dreamweaver CS3 are designed to make it easier to create standards-compliant pages that display and function reliably in a variety of settings.

Dreamweaver first identifies HTML and CSS features that are likely to cause browser-rendering problems. From the Results panel, you can then access the CSS Advisor, a community-created website that describes the most common browser rendering issues and suggests possible workarounds. The integration between local authoring tool and online knowledge base makes it possible to stay current with the ever-changing browser technologies.

Web developers can take advantage of the ability to at anytime during the development process to check your web pages against a configurable set of common browsers, IE 6, Mozilla Firefox, Apples Safari to name a few. A concise results panel will cite warnings and errors that you can filter for easy review. Selecting any issue will allow you to see the problem, ignore the problem for all pages, or get more information and possible workarounds. Issues are even highlighted in code view, adding warning and error icons to the page sidebar, and underlining the problem code in each line.

managing CSS 

As your pages mature and grow, your CSS rules usually evolve. During development, you may find the need to rename, move or add CSS rules. The new CSS management features in Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 make it easy for you to maintain your CSS structure and leverage your work for use in multiple pages or even multiple sites.

You can now easily move rules from document to document to external files, and even among external files. You can also easily convert inline CSS to and from external CSS documents, reorder rules within documents resolve conflicts during CSS merges, and quickly comment and uncomment CSS for easy experimentation.

mobility - Adobe Device Central CS3 

If you are targeting your content for mobile devices, Dreamweaver CS3 makes it very easy with the addition of Adobe’s Device Central which simplifies the creation of mobile content by quickly displaying HTML content and allowing you to scroll using the buttons on the device. The Small Screen Rendering (SSR) mode will shrink the text and images to show the content much as it would appear on the device. Now you use Dreamweaver and Device Central to create and preview mobile content with rich user interfaces.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 90%
Features: 93%
Ease of Use: 90%
Price/Value: 92%
Overall: 91%

Calling this a great release of Dreamweaver would be an understatement. Dreamweaver CS3 focuses on the user experience from the developer’s perspective while taking into consideration the end users’ needs and experiences. Although the interface has not changed like some of its siblings, Developers can appreciate some of the finer details of this release. Creating powerful web pages that target multiple platforms adding rich functionality, interactivity and dynamism sure make this an enticing upgrade. Dreamweaver is definitely a release that should be on every web developers list, the focus on reliability, multi-web browser support and integration with its siblings to enable powerful workflows is enough to make it the best release to date.


Specs & Package
Overall Score 91%
Version Reviewed Dreamweaver CS3
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points SpryFrame widgets with Ajax
Easier to add interactivity to websites
Strong Photoshop integration and workflow
The Bad Points Interface does not support the more efficient Dockable panels in Photoshop
Database tools long in the tooth
In The Box

3 DVDs – Applications, Content, Video Workshop
Adobe CS3 Web Premium and Standard Workflow Guide

Similar Product Microsoft Expressions Web
System Requirements

Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor

Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions)

512MB of RAM (1 GB of RAM)

2 GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation)

1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card

DVD-ROM drive

QuickTime 7 software required for multimedia features

Internet or phone connection required for product activation



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