Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2015 review: A return to form

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Code faster

Designers primarily interested in Code view receive some decent updates, too. There’s support for linting code, to weed out errors in real-time, and also Emmet. The latter is a system that enables you to type something like “#menu>ul>li*5”, hit Tab and then have your abbreviation expand into the full code (in this case, a five-item unordered list within a div that has an id value of “menu”). There is a learning curve, but once mastered Emmet is extremely powerful, and it’s great to see baked-in support.

code_editor_improvements

Two additional Code view updates especially caught my eye. The first is one of Adobe’s “technology previews” (or “unfinished bits”), which highlights all instances of a double-clicked term. Although useful for quickly spotting specific elements or class values, it’s most handy for rapidly finding terms within a page’s copy. New previewing capabilities also prove useful, displaying a popup when you hover the cursor over an image or colour reference. The pop-ups are a bit small, however, and I did end up wishing this feature worked with a bunch of other things, such as links. Perhaps in 2016.

More of the same

Elsewhere, changes are more subtle and variable. The Extract pane will now automatically save out multiples from PSDs, to cater for various screen resolutions, but the process requires uploading your PSD to Creative Cloud. That isn’t much help when you’re on the move or don’t have insanely fast broadband. There’s also the integration of Adobe Stock, marketplace, and some minor fiddling with the interface.

extract

The most notable change to the UI is a new DOM panel, which resembles equivalent features in the vein of Coda. You can use it to quickly scan the structure of your document and shift things around. It could really do with a means to expand and contract all nested items within an element via a single click, though. It also feels cramped and cluttered, which is a criticism that can be levelled at Dreamweaver as a whole. Although many of the new features are pretty great, it doesn’t feel all that pleasant to use. Its “Adobe OS” stylings still feel alien to both OS X and Windows.

Verdict

In many ways, Dreamweaver remains the most ambitious web design application around, aiming to appeal to all-comers. It has tools for ardent hand-coders and also designers who prefer working in a more visual manner. Although legacy cruft remains stubbornly welded to the application – Design view still lurks behind Live like a bad smell, reminding you of the bad old days of web design – there’s a clear effort here to bring Dreamweaver kicking and screaming into the present.

In a sense, Dreamweaver’s broad remit may continue to be its undoing, and plenty of designers continue to ditch Adobe’s giant in favour of smaller and more efficient alternatives. However, with the bad bits primarily being the interface and the good bits plentiful and genuinely useful, Dreamweaver is at least worth another look if you’ve long abandoned it, especially if you want to speed up design and testing workflow across multiple devices.

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