For quite some time, Dreamweaver has been embraced by those working in a
small or medium-sized Web development environment, but shunned by
enterprise and large-scale development teams in favor of applications that
are designed specifically to handle very large sites with equally large
development and support teams. With version 4 of Dreamweaver, it seems as
though the issues involving large-scale development have been significantly
smoothed out, making the application an appealing choice for a Web project
of any size.
We've already taken a look at the fully customizable Assets panel, and
this feature proves to be an easy and efficient way to keep all of your
common URLs in one place. This ensures that all team members are using the
same elements on your site and that the look will be uniform across all
pages -- no matter how many you have.
A content version check-out system has been added, as well. Microsoft's Visual
SourceSafe software has been integrated with Dreamweaver as its chosen
version control tool. Visual SourceSafe allows different members of a
development team to check out files from the server's database of available
files, manipulate them at their workstation, then check them back in when
they're done. This system keeps multiple users from changing the same file
at the same time, thus creating conflicting versions of the same file.
To appeal to teams that rely on a content management or publishing
automation system, Macromedia has added WebDAV capability. The WebDAV protocol is used as a
interface between development applications such as Dreamweaver and many of
the industry-leading content management applications like Vignette and ATG, so basically any
content management system that supports the WebDAV protocol can be used
with Dreamweaver 4.
To enhance communication between members of a development team,
Dreamweaver 4 allows full customization of the Site window's fields. You
can add features to the Site window such as intra-department status reports
or task-specific check lists. To launch the Dreamweaver Site window, press
F5. You will see a map of your site's folder hierarchy. The basic Site view
window shows six initial columns, but you can add extra columns that
interface with the file's design notes. Design notes, first introduced in
Dreamweaver 3, are small XML files that are attached to a host HTML file.
They allow team members to comment on recent work they may have completed
on the file, plus comments asking other team members to complete additional
tasks such as graphics optimization or copy editing.
The design notes and file check-out system work in conjunction with your
local e-mail system to allow team members to communicate their progress or
collaborative needs to each other.
Now that we've seen all Dreamweaver 4 has to offer, let's take a moment
to re-cap the ups and downs of this big baby.