Attended our monthly local Dreamweaver Meet-up and again, a great event. We had a great turnout with a good group of newcomers. The topic this month was productivity tips using Dreamweaver. The presenter was Patrick Elward, operator of Chicago Web Management, and a certified Dreamweaver MX Professional Developer. Additionally, he leads the Chicago Webmasters Meetup Group. Thanks Patrick for a great presentation!
I wanted to share the productivity tips for Dreamweaver provided, as well as provide my personal commentary. Enjoy!
Productivity Tips using Dreamweaver
- Library items
- “includes” are used DW-side (on local server)
- Bad, because it updates only local files and those all need to be re-uploaded
- Can be buggy to change/modify
Comment: As Patrick stated, Library items can be effective, however, their value is diminished once you understand the power of server-side includes (see below).
- Saved code or text values for reuse
- Insert type ‘drops in’ a block of code
- Wrap type ‘drops code’ around a block selection (tags, for example)
Comments: I’m fairly new to snippets but have become a big fan of their use over the past couple of months. A great time saver.
- Unique to DW (but concept used in other programs)
- Defines ‘editable’ regions — such as headlines or body copy
- Bad: Adds extra ‘DW code’ that may be problematic if ‘detached’ from the template
- 3Com example: many divisions using one template is good!
Comments: I’ve been using templates for some time now. I believe in their use, especially if a site is to be handed off to a client to maintain (using Contribute to manage content).
- Find and Replace
- Handy device for switching out text or code values
- Can be used in selection, document, folder or sitewide
- Can use ‘tag only’ or ‘regular expressions’ for complex replacements
- Save common examples as ‘snippets’ in folder called ‘Find and Replace’
Comments: Always a fan of Find & Replaced, I learned quite a bit about some additional capabilities. Anyone know of a Dummies guide to regular expressions?
- Used service side, requires asp, php, or cf type of technology
- Can be used in place of frames for common ‘header, navigation or footer’ usage
- Can be commented out for on/off switching
Comment: Another feature/technique that I have leveraged. Very powerful in site management.
- File Names
- Six month rule: Can you look at any file name on your server and know what it is six months from now?
- Logical naming convention, very handy when adding new files or using server-side technology (for instance, ‘titles’ can be derived from file names, images can be dynamically generated along with ‘alt tags’ based on file names.
Comment: Here’s where I got lost. Yes, I agree that file names should be intuitive. However, some of the naming schemes that were suggested just didn’t make sense to me (starting file names with date info (yyyy-mm-dd-rest-of-filename)). I’d also like to chime in that in naming filenames, that meaning should be incorporated, which will aid in both usability and search engine optimization.
A final note on Meet-ups: If you’ve never heard of these events, they are typically organized by theme, so everyone that attends is interested, if not passionate about the topic. There is an online system called Meet-up that allows you to search for Meet-ups of interest in your area. Once you sign-up for one, you’ll be notified of upcoming meet-ups. There’s even a listserv and discussion forum (though quality is based on participation … come on Dreamweaver group!). I encourage you to check it out.