I have been a fond user of Macromedia Dreamweaver for a long time now, since version 1.2 wasavailable. It was the first accurate WYSIWYG editor and more importantly for an emerging designer at the time, it was the industry tool of choice. As I've grown in experience however, the said toolis fast becoming my worst enemy for a number of reasons.
Now, no-one can argue that Dreamweaver in Layout Mode is fantastic for designing the overalltable template for your site. Drawing tables and cells is far easier than calculating which onesto merge, where a colspan and rowspan should go, etc...
I recently started to notice when cross browser testing with Opera that EVEN the bloody tablecode it produces in Layout Mode is flawed, failing to add crucial WIDTH tags to cells which totally ruins the column structure in Opera. So annoying is this problem that even when I try to add all of the widths manually in a trusty HTML editor, the lovely Dreamweaver REMOVES them for me when I reload the page.
If you ask Macromedia about this "feature" of Dreamweaver, they simply blurb on about it removing superfluous,unnecessary tags. So why don't these pages work correctly in the most compliant browser, Opera?
Next complaint is even bigger than the first one. The Dreamweaver support for style sheets was at one time fairly revolutionary... that is, until they forgot to update it in the last 2 versions. So bad is the support that you can't even add a :hover pseudo to the Anchor tag without employing an external stylesheet editor.
So you'd think that Macromedia would at least accept these shortcomings and make integration with an externalstylesheet editor simple. Well NO, the sheets never reload automatically after updating - you have to painstakingly relink them, then preview the page again to proof your changes. This gets very annoying when all you are trying to do is change an element's position or a similarly menial task.
Now the final insult. Macromedia would have you believe that Dreamweaver is the last word in multistage development, design the template > define it > pass it to the content editors > publish
Sounds wonderful but it doesnt work. Frequently simple templates that I have produced for people who wishto content edit fail to work correctly. For example: add a table into an editable area and watch the uneditable regions start dancing about the page like a man possessed.
Dreamweaver always tries too hard. If I have defined a template then I want Dreamweaver to assume that itis correct and to leave MY code alone. Just allow editing of editable regions - BUT no, it plays about with my tables, removing WIDTH tags here and there...
In Internet Works magazine I read about the process of web production at BBC.co.uk - They citethe beloved DW as a crucial part of their workflow, using the template features just as I want to. I'm not sure how much I believe them! Why doesn't it work in any project I ever publish?
Now you would think that an accomplished company like MM could get it right after 4 incarnations of theweb's most popular design package. In the next incarnation, all I want is a package that can design layouts that are standards compliant. Don't bother with Flash Text and Flash Buttons, we don't want it!
In the meantime I will keep using it for drawing tables visually... but nothing else!
Rant over - Dan...