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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Do I really need Dreamweaver?

So there I was, in college learning to hand code using Dreamweaver. The prompts Dreamweaver gave were very comforting when starting off. It really does reassure you to see you're in the right ballpark with what you're typing. Therefore, I assumed I needed Dreamweaver for when I left college as I had not coded with any other software. This was an unpleasant thought due to the sheer expense of Adobe's products.

Frankly, it's quite difficult to decipher just exactly how much Dreamweaver will set you back. Creative Cloud; Adobe's answer to providing the Creative Suites of the future, does not necessarily help matters as there are more deals and packages to choose from. Here is some of what Adobe is offering in terms of price.

For the full Creative Suite on Creative Cloud (CC)
€61.49 per month
amounting to: €737.88 a year.

One application 
€22.13 per month
amounting to: €265.56 per year.

Personally, I believe that you really need Photoshop as well when developing websites, but as far as I can see, there is no discount when purchasing two products. 

Dreamweaver and inaccurate code

Another con I found with Dreamweaver was it's unreliability when producing code through it's interface. I attempted to built a form using the menu and was appalled when my teacher said it had conjured inaccurate code. From the outset, our tutor deterred us from using Dreamweaver in this way and I was totally converted when I saw just how incorrect it could be. 

I find that Notepad++ which is free to download here (if not already on your device), is an adequate substitute for my needs. My websites would be basic with a HTML, CSS, JavaScript setup.
Notepad++ compared to Notepad is particularly impressive as it colour co-ordinates your code for you when you create .html files making it easier to navigate.

So if you're venturing off without Dreamweaver, here are a few tips to get you started.

Tips for Coding Without Dreamweaver


1. File structure is incredibly important!

Remember to setup your files with your pages at the root and have sub folders for images, css and jscript. Putting these in lowercase is good practice.

2. Doctype


Before you start, decide which language you're going to code in, whether it be XHTML or HTML5. I'd recommend HTML5 as this is the future of Web Design. You can find the different doctypes online. I recommend W3Schools but beware, they don't always get everything right!

3. Know how to add an image off by heart


This code is one you'll be using a lot.
<img src="images/image.jpg" width="300" height="400" alt="This is an image of a woman in a hat" />

*Remember to always include an alt tag in your images. This is alternative text that shows when a picture cannot be rendered and is also used by screen readers for the visually impaired.

*Remember to optimise your pictures for the web in Photoshop by going File, Save for Web & Devices to decrease file size.

4. Open links in a new window 


This allows the user to keep your website open whilst they explore other links.
<a href="http://www.whoismelaniesimpson.com" target="_blank">Melanie's Site </a>

Check out the website I made exclusively using Notepad++ and PhotoshopCS3.

What do you think? Am I completely missing the point of Dreamweaver? Let me know in the comments. 

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