Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 review

Price when reviewed

Dreamweaver largely created the web as we know it, through its ability to create custom web pages and custom web applications. However, the nature of the web is always changing and, with the rise of server-based content management systems (CMS), there’s a real possibility that the desktop-based Dreamweaver may have had its day.

To stay relevant, the first thing Dreamweaver CS5 had to do was make it simpler to start designing websites, and it makes a good start. Previously, you had to jump through a number of hoops to define a site; now, you need only set a name and directory to begin work. When you’re ready to move on to the next stage – say, setting up a test server – Dreamweaver will prompt you for the additional information.

Dreamweaver CS5 has also overhauled its New Document command and it now includes a radically reworked range of CSS layouts. These not only follow modern best practice by including simplified selectors and starter code for menus, but are also full of helpful comments.

Dreamweaver’s choice of CSS layouts is available whether you’re creating static HTML-based pages or dynamic pages based on ASP, ColdFusion, JSP or PHP, but in this version there’s a distinct emphasis on PHP. Core PHP code hinting has been dramatically improved, with on-the-fly parsing and filtering, support for objects, as well as functions and greater information in the Description pane. The latter comes complete with a direct link to the manual page.

Take the hint

More impressive is Dreamweaver CS5’s new support for site-specific code hints, in particular for the big three open-source PHP-based content management systems: WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. All you need to do is point Dreamweaver to the folders containing your framework and hinting is set up accordingly. Base a site on WordPress, for example, type followed by “wp” and the relevant hints for WordPress methods appear, narrowing as you type.

The biggest changes in Dreamweaver CS5 are apparent when you switch to the program’s Live View mode (see video above), which lets you see your page as rendered in the open-source WebKit browser engine. Turn on Split view and Live Code, and you’ll also see the code the browser is using to render the page. Dreamweaver CS5 highlights any changes in code as you move your mouse over the page, making inspection and debugging much easier than before.


Software subcategoryWeb development

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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