Chicago Dreamweaver Meet-up Wrap-up

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

  1. 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).

  2. Snippets
    • 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.

  3. Templates
    • 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).

  4. 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?

  5. Includes
    • 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.

  6. 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.

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1 Comment

Filed under Dreamweaver, Misc. Observations

One response to “Chicago Dreamweaver Meet-up Wrap-up

  1. Dennis, thanks for the writeup. To clarify the ‘file naming’ issue, I recommend using ‘date-stamping’ for time-sensitive files (newsletters, bulletins, etc) for pdfs and docs, but ‘normal English words’ for web pages themselves.

    Generally speaking, a good ‘folder and file’ naming system will make future maintenance and updates easier when new staff gets involved, or when the developer isn’t involved with the site for weeks at a time.

    Hope that helps clear things up.

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