Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 review

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

  • Price When Reviewed: £357 plus VAT . upgrade £159 plus VAT

  • Pros: Great support for PHP programming; Improved CSS inspection; Simplified site setup; Simplified CSS layouts.

  • Cons: Limited support for new Web technologies; No new server behaviors.

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While Dreamweaver CS5 adds many new features for PHP programmers, other tools are beginning to show their age. The program’s visual, “what you see is almost what you get” editing mode fails to display some complex CSS layouts correctly, and doesn’t display the effects of commonly used CSS properties and techniques such as Web fonts (using the CSS @font-face method), generated content, word spacing, opacity, RGBa color, or many of the CSS3 selectors.

This means that designers are more and more dependent upon Dreamweaver’s Live View to accurately see their designs—unfortunately, since you can’t edit the Live View, your workflow is interrupted by having to turn Live View on and off as you work on a page.

Dreamweaver CS5 has added little support for newer Web technologies like CSS3 or HTML 5. While you can now choose an HTML 5 doctype for a page, there aren’t tools for adding HTML 5 tags (not even code hints). In addition, the program has spotty or no support for new (and some not-so-new) CSS properties.

For example the rule definition window -- the designer-friendly dialog used to create styles -- remains unchanged from last version and still doesn’t provide access to some widely supported CSS 2.1 properties like min-width, max-width, border-space, border-collapse, or RGB colors. Nor, will you find any tools to work with increasingly commonly used CSS3 properties like opacity, RGBa color, or the @font-face directive.

Although neither HTML 5 nor CSS3 are finalized standards, support among many Web browsers for some CSS3 properties is strong and some aspects of HTML 5 continue to make their way onto Web sites. Given that Dreamweaver has historically offered features that were ahead of the curve, even offering workarounds to support all browsers, this timid approach to emerging Web techniques in CS5 is disappointing.

Dreamweaver CS5 is an excellent Web page building and Website management tool that handles all the major site building tasks, from creating HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to managing files and links, and uploading completed pages to the Web.

If you own Dreamweaver CS4 the question of whether to upgrade depends on what kind of sites you build. If you’re a PHP programmer, the new code hint features and Live View enhancements will improve your productivity. In addition, for designers responsible for crafting the CSS designs of JavaScript-heavy sites or PHP-driven sites, the new Inspect Mode is a valuable addition. It provides the best tool yet for identifying and editing the CSS that formats dynamically generated page content.

However, if you build Web pages that don’t take advantage of PHP or aren’t heavily JavaScript driven, the additions in CS5 may not be that compelling. You won’t find any new tools for working with HTML, and most of the benefits of the Inspect Mode for examining CSS are already available for basic Web pages using the Current View of the CSS Styles panel.

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