Dreamweaver 4 Overview

Introduction to Dreamweaver 4



1  Dreamweaver 4 Overview
2 The Interface: Same, but Different
3 Handling Code
4  How Buggy Are Your Scripts?
5 Inserting Flash Objects in a Flash
6 Handling Images
7 Site Management: All Together Now
8 Hits and Misses
Home Tired and Want to go HOME

Dreamweaver 4 Overview

Page 4 — How Buggy Are Your Scripts?

The JavaScript development environment of Dreamweaver gets a substantial boost in version 4 with the introduction of the integrated JavaScript debugger. Working within the code view window, you can click on the debug icon which in turn launches a separate debugger window. Dreamweaver allows you to set break-points at sensitive steps in your script so that you can watch how your code manipulates browser events step-by-step. When you preview your JavaScript and watch it run, you can select either Netscape or Internet Explorer as your debugging environment. This is especially helpful since we all know how quirky JavaScript becomes when cross-browser compatibility comes into play.

The last new feature in Dreamweaver 4's code view worth mentioning here is the ability to read and edit non-HTML files. You can drag and drop XML, Perl, JavaScript or even a plain old text file into the code view window and edit it like you would in a normal text editor. Dreamweaver won't overwrite or try to parse tags or phrases that it can't understand -- including third-party tags -- so you can use the code view to manipulate those files that used to send you running to another, more code-friendly application.

Wow, what an improvement, right? Well, I'll wager that you're probably still going to use a different application to edit your Perl files anyway. The text editor functions of Dreamweaver 4 are still your standard, basic fare, so if you're looking for any super-stylish, multi-file handling functions, you're out of luck. Also, curiously, the History, Properties and Styles panels become inactive when you're working in the code view. It's a shame, because I really would have liked to use the style commands to clear all styles within a paragraph and such with a click of the mouse without leaving the code window.

Macromedia's excuse for the pared-down nature of its text editing capabilities is that Dreamweaver 4 was not -- and should not be -- designed with advanced text-handling functionality. Rather HomeSite 4.5 and an evaluation version of BBEdit, which comes conveniently bundled with Dreamweaver, have been provided for the nitty-gritty of large-scale coding projects. If you want to take your code to a place where you feel more comfortable, simply hit Ctrl+E and your file will launch in the external text editor of your choice.

While launching an external editor is something I'm reluctantly growing used to, it seems as though Macromedia missed an opportunity with this release to step up and include a more robust and feature-rich code handler, thus becoming the first full-featured Web publishing tool on the market. As a stubborn and recalcitrant hand-coder, I would have much rather seen better editing functionality built in. Bah, humbug.

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