In Dreamweaver’s defense

Rants, Tools, Work Method | July 9th, 2009
In Dreamweaver’s defense Photo by Bondseye

One of the things that causes me great frustration being a web designer is how my coding tool of choice is constantly looked down on. That tool is Dreamweaver. Tired of all the nasty comments that are constantly thrown at it, I’d like to explain, to those who don’t mind reading a quick rant, why I like it. Bear with me.

Attention, rant alert!

First things first: not everybody that uses Dreamweaver is using it in the Design mode, or even Split mode. Or uses the automatic CSS creator/editor tool.

My intentions with this post are not to convince anyone to move from whatever tool they’re using to Dreamweaver—just to make people understand that Dreamweaver is not that little evil tool everyone seems to think it is—a tool for people who can’t code.

One of the reasons I wanted to get a Mac was because then I would be able to use Coda. It looked so clean, intuitive and without all the clutter that Dreamweaver brings with it! Then I finally got my hands on to a Mac, and actually tried Coda: it didn’t last a day.

I’d like to be able to use a cooler or prettier tool, and, believe me when I say that I’ve tried a lot of them: Coda, Espresso, BBedit, Notepad, etc. I end up frustrated because simple things I’d like them to accomplish just aren’t there or, when they are, they’re not clear.

But don’t get me wrong: Dreamweaver is far from being perfect! It’s just that I’m more prepared to miss out on the great new features that keep popping from the new apps, than from the simple ones that Dreamweaver provides me with and that help me code faster.

I’m sorry I won’t be adding any screenshots to this post, I just have to let this out of my system as quickly as I can. :)

The details that matter to me

This list focuses on the way I use Dreamweaver, and that is mainly to code HTML and CSS. I’m aware that I don’t use it to its full potential, so this list could be so much longer, right?

So why do I like it so much then?

  • It adds links to the external files your HTML is linking to at the top
  • The list of colours, assets, links used in a Site
  • It doesn’t close HTML tags as soon as I open then
  • It closes HTML tags if I type “</
  • You get a list of all available CSS classes and ids when you're typing "class=" or "id="
  • It auto-completes the properties in CSS files (yes, all the others probably do that as well)
  • You can add strong, em, or headings, for example, with just Cmd+B, Cmd+I, or Cmd+1
  • If you type "&" in your HTML code, you get a list of glyphs available
  • It doesn't add annoying project files to my folders
  • Search and replace across an entire site
  • The inbuilt FTP: it's not great, but it's OK for quick uploads
  • I can use the tab key to indent several lines of code without the need of a plug-in
  • Update: If you set up a Site, and then change the name of a file (html, image file, etc.), it updates the links to that file within the Site
  • Update: When inserting an img tag, after inserting the source file code, Dreamweaver adds the correct height and width automatically when you type in height and width

People keep trying to convince me to move from Dreamweaver (and sometimes I try to convince myself), but save your words if none of the above mentioned features is present in the tool you’re about to recommend.

I’d also like to add that I don't use Dreamweaver's live preview—I never got used to it because it used to suck (I've heard it's a lot better now though), so I use a combination of Firefox and Firebug to do the live editing.

The details that I don’t love, but that I can live with (or without)

  • The price tag. At almost £400 (or $399), it’s quite expensive and sometimes prohibitive
  • It can be slow
  • It’s not as pretty
  • It doesn’t know which properties have already been used for a particular tag
  • Search and replace could be nicer (like Espresso’s)
  • I’d like to have a more visual navigator (like Espresso, for example), but it has one that serves its purpose well
  • Spelling checker: if there is one, I don’t know where it is (Espresso has it)

Dreamweaver is sad

So please, next time you say mean things about Dreamweaver, think twice, look at how sad it is:

sad dog
Photo by protographer23

What would you like to add? Are you a Dreamweaver hater? Do you secretly use it when no one is looking?
Let me know in the comments section!

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