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Video Training Review: Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training with James Williamson from Lynda.com

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Dreamweaver is the Web development application from Adobe Systems and to get the most out of the program, it's important not only to master the application, but also to understand fundamental concepts of modern Web design.

Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training attempts to do just that. In this training series, James Williamson covers everything from site structure to the value of standards-compliant XHTML and CSS. He also shows how to create clean and accessible code in Dreamweaver, as well as how to publish compelling content. This course lasts 10.25 hours divided into 18 lessons.

Lynda.comLessons 1-3 cover the basics of Dreamweaver. This includes the theory of basic site structure, what is an index page, an overview of Web design practices, and explanations of XHTML, JavaScript, and CSS. You will also get an overview of the Dreamweaver interface, as well as a lesson on setting up and managing a site.

Lessons 4 and 5 gets you started with the creation of new documents, what DOCTYPE declarations are, setting up new document preferences, and how to work with starter pages. You then learn the basics of adding text and structuring content, creating lists, getting text into Dreamweaver, and importing Word documents.

Lesson 6, "CSS Foundations," now goes to the heart of the fundamentals of using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Understanding some simple rules of using CSS will help you create more efficient style sheets. Here you will explore the anatomy of a CSS rule, setting the preferences, understanding the selectors, and working with external style sheets.

Lesson 7, "Controlling Typography," is important so as to have the ability to get your point across. In this lesson you will see the units of measurement that Dreamweaver will provide for you use. These include font sizing, weight, and style as well as line height, vertical spacing, padding, and alignment of text.

Lesson 8, "Working with Images," begins with how best to manage your images. In Dreamweaver, these are called assets and it is very important for you to manage them so that you can find them when you need them. You will also see how to place them on a page, customize them via CSS, integrate with Photoshop, and even alternate Photoshop workflows.

Lesson 9, "Creating Links," explains that without links, working with the Web would be a pretty tedious task. So creating links is very important for the structure and flow of your site. In this lesson you will see how to create links, set preferences, how to use named anchors, and how to create CSS-based rollovers.

Lesson 10, "Controlling Layout with CSS," will show you that although you may be intimidated in using CSS, that it is in fact easier to control a site by using CSS than it would be otherwise. This is all accomplished by using proper site layout. You will start with the basics, and then learn about structuring and various types of positioning.

Lesson 11, "Working with Tables," examines that while tables are out of favor for creating layouts, they are still needed for the presentation of tabular data, and in fact are one of the best ways of presenting this kind of data to the user. You will begin by reviewing table structure, importing data, styling tables, and adding user interactivity to tables.

Lesson 12, "Working with Forms," starts out with how forms work. Forms are one of those things that allow a user to pass information to your site. While this does not get into processing form data, it does show you how to create assessable forms, set their properties, insert fields, lists, radio button groups, checkboxes, text, and submit buttons. It also covers some form interactivity and the use of Spry validation widgets.

Lesson 13, "Building Templates," is a two step process. First you save the file as a template, and then you save the editable regions. In this lesson you will learn how to properly build a template by proper planning, creating new pages from the template, applying templates to existing pages, and modifying a template.

Lesson 14, "Adding User Interactivity," is important in that it allows you to create engaging user experiences for those who come to your site. You must meet the enhanced user expectations for site design if you plan on retaining the user. Here you will learn about different things that you can do enhance user interactivity.

Lesson 15, "Working with Flash and Video," is very important to a Web site, and the fact that Flash and Dreamweaver have worked together for a very long time makes it very convenient. Here you will see how to insert Flash files, set the properties, and how to encode your video for best performance. Lesson 16, "Automating Efficient Workflows," is all about helping you work smarter when using Dreamweaver. Here you will learn some important tasks to accomplish your job.

Lesson 17, "Coding in Dreamweaver," show you how to edit your code by hand when you need to in Dreamweaver. Here you will learn to set code preferences, use hints, add comments, and find syntax errors. Lesson 18, "Managing Sites," examines what you need to do to run your site, to check for broken links, handle browser compatibility, and synchronize your site.

James Williamson does a very thorough job of taking you though most everything you need to work with Dreamweaver CS4. Now if you are and old hand to Dreamweaver and really only need to know about the new features, there is also a two-hour package called Dreamweaver CS4 New Features from Lynda.com as well by the same instructor.

You can get this package one of two ways. One is as a DVD training package Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training and the other is part of the online training experience at Lynda.com. The DVD Training Package is $149.95 USD and includes Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training as well as containing all of the exercise files.

The online training Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training comes in three flavors. Monthly at $25/month gets you all of the videos that are available online (approximately 21,811 videos on 318 topics at this time). Annually at $250 per year or Premium at $375 per year which get all the videos as well as all of the exercise files. Take note that the exercise files are not included with the monthly or annual subscriptions. They are included in the Premium subscriptions and the standalone DVDs.

You can use Dreamweaver CS4 Essential Training as a training program for the individual student, as well as the college or vocational teacher looking to supplement their educational materials. It is of benefit to anyone who needs help understanding Dreamweaver CS4. You can also try out a couple of the videos for free at Lynda.com.

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About T. Michael Testi

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