Price: £399 plus VAT
Since its introduction in June 2000, Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev has proven a popular environment for deploying simple database-driven Web applications. UltraDev is undeniably responsible for bridging the gap between designers and developers, being the only tool that lets you author ASP (Active Server Pages), JSP (Java Server Pages) and CFML (ColdFusion Markup Language), in one environment. It takes full advantage of Dreamweaver’s renowned HTML and table building features as well as built-in drag-&-drop server behaviours and other features aimed at team developers.
The latest release jumps straight to version 4 - since it shares the core features of Dreamweaver 4 - and adds new database and server capabilities. These include the Server Behavior Builder; which helps generate your own behaviours to match your server environment; and an extensive library of pre-built commonly used server scripts, such as record manipulation in all of the supported languages.
Dreamweaver UltraDev 4 aims towards a more robust rapid Web-development tool by adding JavaBeans support, WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) support and Microsoft Visual SourceSafe integration. These features suit Web teams of any size, and help deploy scalable applications. For instance, using WebDAV or Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, a team can use the Check In and Check Out features to temporarily lock files, to avoid overwriting each others work.
The JavaBeans support helps designers and programmers extend the JSP functions of UltraDev even further by adding drag-&-drop access to JavaBean methods in the Data Bindings Inspector. Better yet, the functionalities provided by these JavaBeans are extensively shared across the Web. And you don’t have to know how to program Java to use them, since you’re only interested in the functionalities it provides. Simply register it as a Data Source and go.
One neat and newly added feature is the ability to validate user names and passwords against a database, effectively password protecting your Web pages.
What impresses most are the interface enhancements such as the Code View, Design View and the Split View. These give you access to your code and a visual glimpse of the layout, disabling the need to use shortcuts to toggle between the previously claustrophobic HTML/layout windows.
This release also sees Macromedia tidying up some GUI ‘loose ends’ by including some common yet timesaving enhancements such as colour coding and auto indenting to the revamped built-in HTML editor, almost disabling the need for the BBedit (evaluation copy only) and Allaire HomeSite bundle.
UltraDev 4 shares all of the design features of Dreamweaver 4, and adds tons more database and server-side specific tools besides. Novice and professional users of Dreamweaver alike will find this upgrade worthwhile. The most common features for creating simple to complex database driven Web sites are there. From password protected areas, advanced content management systems using either ASP, ColdFusion or JSP, built-in SQL builder, to Live Data previewing and drag-&-drop server functionalities, UltraDev 4 proves that the three version jump is a valid one.