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The perfect learning tool
on 14 March 2011
I am a great fan of the Adobe "Classroom In a Book" series, and this book is the star of the collection.
I have been putting websites together for years in a software program called NetObjects Fusion, but there is very little literature on how to customize it or use it in conjunction with other software packages, so I decided to convert to Dreamweaver, which has piles of online and offline literature and support. I assumed that the conversion process would be easy and bought a couple of short books to achieve that. A mistake. Dreamweaver is a massive piece of software with a full armoury of features, and there is no short-cut route into it.
The book consists of a series of step-by-step tutorials broken down into logically organized chapters, during which the reader uses Dreamweaver to build a multiple-page website, complete with interactive navigation and functionality and inserts from other programs. All the assets for the website are contained on the accompanying DVD-Rom (for Windows and Mac), which is incrediby useful. The DVD also contains helpful videos from the "Learn Dreamweaver CSS by Video" publication.
The book begins with an introduction of the basics - HTML and CSS, and how they work together. It moves in gentle steps, taking the reader from the simple tools in Dreamweaver like creating layouts and adding images through to creating templates and library items (invaluable) handling some of the more specialized features like Spry widgets and adding interactivity. There is even a section on how to create a CSS style sheet which will produce a printer-friendly version of your website pages. It concludes with chapters advising on how to work with online data building dynamic pages with ASP, ColdFusion or PHP and working with code. Finally there is a chapter on how to publish to an external web server so that the rest of the world can visit your site.
Because you build a website as you go along you get a great idea of the design process and the potential of using different features, as well as the technicalities of the build itself.
The only downside that I can find is that no matter what I did I could not get the contact form to work using the instructions from the book. Having said that, I am willing to believe that this was a problem with me rather than the book, because all other instructions were spot on.
I wanted to add a photo gallery to my site and there were no instruction in the book about how to achieve this, which is a shame as I understand that there used to be a photo gallery feature built into Dreamweaver and people accustomed to this feature might well have found it helpful to know how to achieve the same result using another program.
I would actually recommend reading a book on CSS before you begin this book if you don't have that knowledge already, because knowing how to use CSS really is a key feature of Dreamweaver. There are some excellent books around, and even short ones will make all the difference.
All in all, I wouldn't bother with another Dreamweaver CS5 book until you have read this one. This one is a fantastic place to start and will give you lots of ideas for your own work. Above all, it was great fun to use.
My book is covered in notes and I will keep it close to hand as a reference book every time that I use Dreamweaver in the future.
I have just completed a website for my local pub, and everything I needed to achieve for the site (except the web gallery) was covered in the book. A great purchase.