Since 1997, Dreamweaver has been a major player in the web design field with continuous positive reviews. It has a variety of powerful features for designers and developers yet has a user interface that can be easily accessed by people with limited coding knowledge. It also has its pros and cons depending on how you like to design and code.
Multiple Language Support
Coding and Creation
Dreamweaver has many options built in to simplify and expedite your web design and coding projects. The Find and Replace feature makes looking for and replacing items in your code a breeze. Several coding languages have auto completion, which is a nice feature to make coding quicker.
Like many other IDE (Integrated Development Environment) programs, Dreamweaver uses colors to highlight different parts of the code to make viewing and debugging easier. Dreamweaver also has a code checker for web standards and accessibility. If you use GitHub for your projects, pushing and editing files to your repository is hassle-free.
For users do not know any programming languages and want a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) environment, you can create and edit web pages with the "Live View" feature. If you create HTML/CSS emails for marketing or newsletters, you can do these as well in Dreamweaver without touching any code. You can view a split screen that shows both the source code and the front end view while working on a site's pages too.
On the downside, many users find the interface to be too cluttered for an experienced developer. Complete beginners may find the interface overwhelming and, depending on their needs, may also find they need to learn at least some basic HTML and CSS.
Integration With Multiple Design Products
If you need to use other products while designing, such as a photo/graphics editor, video editor or illustration program, Dreamweaver works seamlessly with other Adobe Creative Cloud products such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro and Illustrator. If you use these other products frequently, you can purchase them as a bundle.
Dreamweaver is also integrated with the Adobe Stock and Adobe Web Fonts which allow you find images and fonts for your site without having to leave the Adobe ecosystem to other websites. You receive a credit for 10 free Adobe Stock images when you purchase a Dreamweaver subscription. If you prefer more affordable options than the Adobe Creative Cloud products, you can still use other similar software like Gimp and Canva, as well as stock sites like Getty and Pixabay.
An issue of contention with Adobe product users is the fact that you can only purchase the latest versions of their software via online subscription. The benefit is that you regularly receive updates to the software in a fairly quick and easy manner, and you can have access to many programs at once; download as many or as few as you need.
However, you also are locked into paying continuously for the product or products you use, whereas with a traditional CD or one-time download, you can purchase with a set price which may end up being cheaper in the end. Adobe does alleviate some of this pricing burden for students and schools, but for the hobbyist or professional designer, this can be a considerable cost.
Features for Beginners
If you're a complete beginner and do not know code, or don't feel that you know enough code to make a site, Adobe offers many options to make creating a site easier. It also has an interface that can help you to learn more about coding and web design.
- Adobe is in tune with the need for mobile-friendly sites and this is built into their design environment so you don't need to create code specifically for multiple devices.
- Templates are available for web sites and emails that you can use as offered, or you can tweak them as you feel comfortable making more advanced changes. You can also find many templates on other websites specifically made for Dreamweaver.
- The interface for viewing your website's files and directories is simple to use and makes updates extremely easy. Dreamweaver will automatically update links and pages based on any updates you make to a file so it's not necessary for you to go into multiple pages or templates to update them.
- Although Dreamweaver claims to have a WYSIWYG interface, you may find as a beginner that this is not necessarily the case for your needs. This could also be seen as a plus though, since this encourages you to learn more about simple coding. This can also be seen as a con if you really don't want to learn code or simply find it too confusing.
- If you want to create effects such as rollover buttons and jump menus or usable forms, Adobe makes these relatively easy for new users. On the downside, many experienced coders find the code for these items bloated.
- Adobe also has a strong tutorial section and their forums for support are helpful for both beginners and more experienced users. Because it's so widely used, you can also many non-Adobe resources to learn more such as on YouTube and paid learning sites like Lynda and Udemy.
Purchasing Adobe Dreamweaver
The program comes as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software which requires a monthly subscription fee. To subscribe to just Dreamweaver is $19.99 per month. This also includes access to Adobe Spark for graphics and video editing, plus your own website with 100 GB of cloud storage.
If you'd like to have access to more Adobe programs, you can purchase an All Apps subscription for $49.99 per month. Over 20 Adobe design programs are included, like Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere Pro. Adobe also offers special discounts for students, teachers and educational institutions.
Free Trial Version
If you're not sure if you'll like using Dreamweaver, Adobe offers a free trial you can download and use for seven days starting on the day you install it on your computer. If you decide to purchase a subscription, you don't need to do so right away. You won't be able to use the software once the trial has expired, but you still will have all the files you created, and you can upgrade to use the software again when you're ready.
Adobe offers many options for support for all of their software. There is an extensive library with "how to" instructions and troubleshooting tips. The Community Forum lets you post questions to the very active and helpful Adobe community made up of Adobe staff and expert users. The community also has several tutorial videos and a section where you can find a "training partner" in your area to help you locally.
You can also access Adobe's support team directly via chat or phone although these options are not available for all subscription plans. If you aren't covered on your plan, you can use the support team option for an additional fee which some users may find prohibitive. Another excellent way to get help with Dreamweaver and other Adobe products is by joining a local meetup group of which Adobe has many active chapters.
A Powerful Web Design Tool
There are certainly many advantages to using Dreamweaver, a program with a wide set of features that experienced and beginner website designers and developers will enjoy. The options Adobe has put together make coding and interfacing with their other programs easy. Of course, like every software program on the market, it has its benefits and drawbacks.
The cost can be an issue compared to cheaper and open source IDE, code editor, WYSIWYG and web design programs. Its expansive set of features may also be overwhelming for beginners and even for experienced people who may find it overloaded and inefficient to navigate. If you aren't sure how you will like the program, be sure to take advantage of the free trial and research other options based on your own unique needs.