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Book Review: Visual Quickstart Guide – Dreamweaver CS3 by Tom Negrino and Dori Smith

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As many of you may know, Dreamweaver CS3 (version 9) is the first version of the web development tool, originally created by Macromedia, to be published by Adobe Systems. Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005 shortly after the version 8 release. Some of the new features added to Dreamweaver include Spry framework for Ajax, Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks integration, easier CSS integration, and device central for mobile content.

Visual Quickstart Guide: Dreamweaver CS3 is the new version of the Quickstart Guide for Dreamweaver from Peachpit Press. At 559 pages contained in 18 chapters, three appendixes and an index, it addresses the Windows and Mac platforms and presumes that you are using Dreamweaver CS3. There are version specific copies for prior versions of Dreamweaver.

Breaking down the chapters into logical sections, Visual Quickstart Guide starts off with appropriate introductory information.

    Chapter 1, "Introducing Dreamweaver"
    Chapter 2, "Starting Your First Site"
    Chapter 3, "Building Your First Page"

These first three chapters gives you a quick tour of the Dreamweaver interface, how to set up your workspace and what is new to Dreamweaver CS3. It explains what local and remote sites are, how to work with views and files, how to synchronize the sites, and how to build your first page.

Chapters 4-7 go into more detail on adding information to your pages such as dragging and dropping text, applying character formats, as well as working with fonts and alignments.

    Chapter 4, "Adding Text to Your Pages"
    Chapter 5, "Styling Page Content"
    Chapter 6, "Positioning Page Content"
    Chapter 7, "Managing Styles"

You will also learn how use CSS to stylize your content, as well as how to use it to set your layouts. Once you have gotten a handle on the styles, you will learn how to manage them, and keep them under control.

In chapter 8 and 9 you will learn how to create text, graphics, and email links on your pages, as well as how to use the assets panel to insert images. You will also learn how to insert favicon's, Flash buttons, Flash Video as well as Quicktime and other media.

    Chapter 8, "Working with Links"
    Chapter 9, "Including Images and Media"
     

The focus in chapters 10-12 is the layout of data on the pages. At one time is was acceptable to use tables for layout, but this is no longer an accepted practice with the advent of CSS. Using forms and fields will show you how to present data and accept input from the user. By using frames, you will see how to define areas of content on the screen.

    Chapter 10, "Inserting Tables"
    Chapter 11, "Using Forms and Fields"
    Chapter 12, "Adding Frames"

Chapters 13 and 14 handle the interactivity within the site. Behaviors, the Dreamweaver packaging of JavaScript into easy-to-use actions, allow you to handle interaction between your site, and your users. Spry allows you to build Web 2.0 compatibility into your website by using widgets. These will effectively allow you to add AJAX to your web pages.

    Chapter 13, "Using Behaviors and Navigational Objects"
    Chapter 14, "Building Dynamic Pages with Spry"

Chapters 15-18 finish up the book with tools — such as building assets to work with in an easy and logical manner — that will make your life easier. You will learn how to work with other applications such as Photoshop and Excel, as well as tricks to make code editing easier. You will also find ways to manage your site, and make sure that everything is working properly and that there are no broken links.

    Chapter 15, "Making Life Easier: Using Templates, Libraries and Snippets"
    Chapter 16, "Working with Other Applications"
    Chapter 17, "Editing Code"
    Chapter 18, "Managing Your Site"

The appendixes show you were to find more information on Dreamweaver, how to customize and extend the product as well a providing a reference for Cascading style sheets.

Visual Quickstart Guide: Dreamweaver CS3 has its usefulness, but it's not without some problems. It is listed as being for beginning and intermediate users, but I think that someone who has never used Dreamweaver before would find themselves befuddled and confused at times. There are a number of spots where a topic is taken up with some assumptions made that would be apparent to a more experienced user, but not to a novice. There probably should be a glossary of terms to define items that may not be familiar to new users as well.

On the other hand, Visual Quickstart Guide: Dreamweaver CS3 would be of benefit to the advanced beginner, intermediate, and perhaps the more advanced user who is wanting to get up to speed with some of the new topics, has experience with a prior version, and does not want a lot of explanations of the more basic techniques.

Visual Quickstart Guide: Dreamweaver CS3 covers all the topics in good detail and is pretty comprehensive. It is especially useful when you need to figure out how to accomplish a task; you find the applicable page or two, and you are on your way. Visual Quickstart Guide: Dreamweaver CS3 is also a good book if you are wanting to get familiar with the newest version of Dreamweaver CS3.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.