For the newbie or existing user of Dreamweaver, there is lots to learn in this new version and the book Dreamweaver CS4: The Missing Manual is a great way to get started on learning Dreamweaver or get quick updates on the new things CS4 has to offer.
Of course this book is big (over 1000 pages) but it is going to be a complete learning reference for newbie's and well as good reference for existing users of the tool.
Compared to other Dreamweaver books I have, it makes it really easy to find exactly what you want with the clear and concise headings and subheading at the top of each page. I hate books that make you hunt around for pages trying to find what area of the book you are in.
The book is divided into 6 main sections:
1. A Guided Tour: This is for the newbie who want to learn the basics of the new CS4 interface and how to use some of the basic tools for creating web pages.
2. Building a Better Web Page: This takes in depth of advanced CSS layout and design (liquid layouts, fixed layouts, elastic layouts, positioning of elements, navigation, etc.) This section alone is more information than any Dreamweaver book I've read before on layout design.
4. Building a Web Site: This section deals with the file and site management of Dreamweaver. Not only do you have to design and code your web pages, but you need a site management tool to keep track of all you files (.html, gif, .css, etc) and track all the updates other people may make to them as well if your working in a group. Even if you working alone on a web site, it really is important to manage your files efficiently.
5. Dreamweaver CS4 Power: This section explains the unique tools that it has to offer like libraries and templates. Dreamweaver (with most previous versions) allows you to create snipets of code and store them as a code library to be used later. These pieces of code can be used anywhere on your website and are controlled and organized by Dreamweaver automatically. Templates are just what they sound like...You can create templates in Dreamweaver and reuse them for any website you create. It eliminates you having to re-write or re-copy-and-paste your code each time you have the same section on multiple pages. It have be HTML or CSS or both that can be re-used. A great feature and improved in CS4.
6. Dynamic Dreamweaver: This section is very important and explained very well from a coding/programming standpoint. Websites today are usually using some sort of database for retrieving lots of the website's content. With Dreamweaver you can link to a database (MySQL, MS Access, Cold Fusion --- not SQL Server) and use Dreamweaver's wizards to help you create dynamic web sites. It makes it easier than having you to know lots code/programming concepts. Dreamweaver can help you create sessions (tracking visitors from multiple pages) cookies (remember visitors from each visit) and much more. The author explains these more advanced techniques very nicely and without too much "techno jargon".
The last chapter is focused on another advanced topic with XSLT and XML. This is how you can style and design your web pages from data transferred from any kind of datasource and format with XML and XSLT. Many websites today are using XML/XSLT no matter what back-end they are using. A very unique and helpful addition to a Dreamweaver book.
This book should be in everybody's library no matter what the skill level. It covers all the basics for the beginner and many advanced topics for the seasoned veteran of Dreamweaver.
A great book.