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Religious Tolerance logo

Evaluating Adobe® Dreamweaver®

Switch to Dreamweaver? Irritants noted.
Experience with Dreamweaver CS4

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Tentative decision on whether to switch to Dreamweaver:

When evaluating software, I have always followed the principle "Better the devil you do know for the devil you don't." But problems with Expression Web are just too overwhelming. I could wait until some future upgrade of Expression Web cured its problems. But since Microsoft has taken extreme care to preserve so many previous bugs from version to version, this does not look like a likely possibility.

I would be happy to pay twice the money to get a version of Expression Web that had half the functionality and twice the stability. But that does not seem to be the direction that Microsoft is taking.

Our free test version of Expression Web 2 ran out at the end of 2008-AUG. We reverted to our original version of Expression Web and were surprised to find that it behaved much better than in the past, and much better than Expression Web 2. We are guessing that some of the Vista Home Premium updates that we were able to install may have made Expression Web more compatible with our operating system.

During 2008-JUL, we tentatively decided to stick with Expression Web, version 1. Later, we moved to version 2.

We can live with this program's three major annoyances, and some minor ones:

  1. The program fails about 3 times a day. This almost always happens when I try to open a new HTML file. The workaround is to save any modified files before opening a new one, and anticipate program failure when I try to open a file.

  2. When attempting to overwrite a previously open file with the contents of an open file, the program sometimes refuses to do the overwrite because it regards the former as still open, even though it was closed. This is a bug that has been present since the later versions of FrontPage and has never been fixed. There is no workaround; it just has to be lived with.

  3. When Expression Web loads a file containing copyright, ©, trade mark ™ or similar symbols, it replaces them with a square box symbol (�). These have to be manually changed -- a nuisance but manageable.

So I guess that my only options are:

bullet To switch to Dreamweaver. This is a difficult option to select because of the cost of the software and the condition of our finances.
bullet To revert to FrontPage 2003. It at least is reasonably stable.
bullet To follow the crowd and "upgrade" back from Vista to XP in the hopes that it might work.

It looked like reinstalling FrontPage 2003 was our least awful option. Whenever Microsoft comes up with a new version of Expression Web we will evaluate a trial copy in the hope that it is more stable.

Six months later, we had a stroke of good luck. One of the banner ads supplied to our website by another company proved to be quite popular. This resulted in a lot of clicks during part of one month that raised our revenue sufficiently to purchase a copy of Dreamweaver.

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Experience with Dreamweaver CS4:

We installed Dreamweaver CS4 uneventfully, and started to use it. Unfortunately, our main disk drive failed and had to be replaced. This necessitated downloading of Dreamweaver again. When we went on vacation, we tried to download a duplicate copy of Dreamweaver into our laptop. This presented a problem. Adobe allows users to install only two copies of Dreamweaver on a single licence -- typically on a person`s desktop and laptop computers. But according to Adobe's accounting, I had three active copies downloaded: the third was on the defunct C drive. Fortunately, their customer care folks trusted me and reset their counter so that I could have two active programs operating.

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Remaining irritants noted:

Some of the following irritants may only apply to my particular operating system or to my specific Dreamweaver setup. So other users may not have these same problems. Some of the problems may arise because I am often working with files that were created under FrontPage or Expressions Web which often create some really weird and wordy HTML coding.

  • Dreamweaver seems to have two modes of operation. In the normal mode, the keyboard operates normally. In the other mode, strange characters appear:
    • hitting the ' key generates `
    • I becomes Ì
    • etc.

I solved this problem, but then forgot the solution. Whenever it appears, I just shut down Dreamweaver and restart it.

  • One of the most irritating irritants involves deleting blank lines. Sometimes, blank lines appear in the design mode that are "virtual blank lines." That is, they don't exist in reality. "Refreshing the Design View" with the F5 function key wipes them out. However, other blank lines are real. One has to experiment to find out whether:
    • hitting the backspace key,
    • hitting the delete key, or
    • going up to the end of the previous line and hitting the delete key
    is needed to eliminate the blank line. Sometimes it is necessary to go into the Code mode and search out some crazy looking HYML code that produces no useful effect, but which generates a blank line where one is not wanted.

  • Indenting text sometimes works. But other times, the command indents not only the highlighted text that one wants to indent, but also indents text in higher lines. I normally have to go into Code mode and alter the HTML coding manually in order to fix the mess.

  • When I remove a large block of text from an essay, the program inserts an equivalent blank space either at the top of the essay, or where the deleted text once appeared. This is annoying but easily cured by "refreshing the design view" (F5). Still, it is unsettling, because the view of the essay in Dreamweaver's design mode is not what it would look like in a browser. What you see is not necessarily what you get.

  • When I try to insert a hyperlink, a "Hyperlink" window opens showing the text that will be highlighted. But the program places the cursor in this window at the start of the text. Further, hitting the down cursor arrow does not move the cursor down into the "Link" field; instead it generates a space. It would be much more convenient if the window appeared with the cursor at the start of the "Link" field.

  • Many internal hyperlinks are to a named anchor in a file rather than to the file itself. For example, the link at the bottom of this essay goes to "drmweav.htm#menu" Dreamweaver accepts such a hyperlink. However when one tries to "Open Linked Page" in the "Modify" pulldown menu in design mode, the program responds with an error message. It cannot handle the "#menu" anchor. Similarly, some hyperlinks go from one point in an essay to another point in the same essay. For no obvious reason, the "Open Linked "page" doesn't work here either.

  • When I use the "Check Spelling" option, the program often highlights a misspelled word that is just out of sight below the bottom of the screen. Thus it is impossible to know whether to accept the suggested change or not.

  • The program does not allow the insertion of hyperlinks for text that contains characters in italics. The hyperlink has to be inserted manually.

  • I really miss the Thesaurus found in other HTML editors.

  • The program does not have an option to insert a subscript simply. One has to go into the code mode and enter <sub> and </sub> commands manually,

  • I will add other minor irritants whenever I stumble across them.

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References used:

  1. "Get files from a remote server," Dreamweaver help files at:

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Copyright © 2008 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2008-JUL-20
Most recent update and review: 2010-AUG-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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