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Dreamweaver has become associated with website creation in the same way that Photoshop is identified with image editing. In becoming an all-encompassing application, appealing to designers and developers alike, it has seen off many rivals.
However, as with other behemoths, its pace of innovation slowed, and the CS3 update was disappointing. To some extent, CS4 continues this trend: despite some tantalizing treats, there are few reasons to upgrade.
The most apparent changes to Dreamweaver are interface-based. The reworked ‘stashable’ palettes are an improvement, and although the Application Bar is – in my opinion – as pointless and disagreeable as in other CS4 applications, it’s barely integrated into Dreamweaver and not missed once disabled. Usefully, Split View finally has a vertical mode, taking advantage of widescreen monitors.
Panel and dialog content has also been updated. The Properties panel offers a CSS mode, providing quick access to style-oriented code, and the New CSS Rule dialog displays a text-based indication of how and where
a rule will be applied.
Dreamweaver CS4 also adds two new views: Live View and Live Code. The former is a WebKit-based rendering of the current page, dealing with Design View’s inadequacies. More importantly, it enables you to view and interact with elements rendered via scripting without using a browser, and select elements to highlight them in Code View. Live Code provides an equivalent view for code, displaying live code generated by the browser and enabling temporary locking for debugging sessions.