• Price: £399 plus VAT

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Since its launch in 1997, Dreamweaver has flirted with integrating more advanced server-side technologies, through the use of extensions, to increase the level of functionality. This flirting has finally evolved to a full-blown relationship with the launch of Dreamweaver UltraDev – a development environment which includes Drumbeat 2000’s robust ASP and JSP, Cold Fusion and SQL visual development features – successfully combining the creative with technological, and providing a ‘best of both worlds’ feel. Drumbeat 2000 will, however, be discontinued. UltraDev is a cross-platform solution – Macintosh users can now get involved in scripting dynamic data-driven sites alongside Windows developers – for developing Microsoft’s Active Server Pages (ASP), Allaire’s Cold Fusion Markup Language (CFML) and Sun’s JavaServer Pages (JSP). All this on top of the ‘traditional’ Dreamweaver features we’ve come to know and love – including powerful HTML design, table editing, CSS Styles, CSS Layers and JavaScript Behaviours – and by any definition that adds up to an impressive Web development environment. The user interface of UltraDev sees no major changes from Dreamweaver 3 apart from the Data Bindings and Live Data panels, giving you drag-&-drop Server Behaviours and a Query Editor for adding Recordsets to your dynamic pages. This means that you can quickly and easily connect your sites to any ODBC, JDBC or ADO data source – such as Microsoft SQL Server or Access. You can also construct SQL commands to query these databases without any real knowledge of SQL – though as always, to get the most out of the product you could do with knowing the basics. This process can be made even easier if you use the built-in behaviours that enable you to add server interactivity to your sites without any hand coding. These behaviours are fairly basic, for example adding the ability to navigate between records or perform simple functions such as adding, editing and deleting records from the database – nothing earth shattering, but it will speed up the development time for non-technical developers. Dreamweaver UltraDev also provides the tools for creating your own SQL statements and several tools for testing and previewing the results before you commit them to your pages – a really useful addition to the package. So why would you want to move to UltraDev? The move to a single development environment could see clear advantages for some developers, but in larger or established teams there are probably already clear divisions between the coders and the designers that work perfectly well. For those just getting into developing data-driven sites, then this isn’t a bad choice, since you will be working in a familiar environment and the several drag-&-drop behaviours can simplify development. If you’re a Drumbeat 2000 user, upgrading will give you the benefits of Dreamweaver’s excellent HTML-editing features plus pretty much all the functions you’re used to (coding ASP or JSP depending on the version) plus ColdFusion authoring capabilities.