Dreamweaver CS4: The Missing Manual Paperback – Dec 2 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The book leads you through the functionality of the software with clear descriptions, step by step tutorials,and in-depth discussions of some of the more complicated topics. It even tells you which options in Dreamweaver NOT to use, if you want to follow best practices and make your life easier.
Although the book is massive, it has an excellent index. The virtual CD has all the files necessary for the tutorials, and you download it from the web site (hey, if you want to build web sites, you've gotta have internet access, right!)
I am a volunteer webmaster for several web sites including my own, a band from Winnipeg, and a non-profit organization. I recently totally revised the look and feel of one of them, and was delighted to receive unsolicited positive feedback. The book also helped me figure out how to fix some browser problems in older versions of Internet Explorer.
I spent a lot of time browsing the bookstores and trying to find a really good tool for learning the software. This is the best of the lot.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Dreamsweaver CS4 for Dummies
Dreamweaver CS4: The Missing Manual (this book)
The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax and PHP
I started with Dreamweaver CS4 for Dummies, which I found to be a pretty good book. I was able to read it cover to cover (though it's not necessary to do so to get started). In addition to a good basic overview, it had a couple of very helpful tips in a chapter called "10 Resources You Might Need."
As my design became more detailed, I felt the need for a book that went into more depth and bought the other two books listed above. I like both books, but find I rely on The Missing Manual the most. Its writing is clear and easy to follow. The numerous tutorials give step-by-step instructions for a beginner on how to accomplish various tasks, with more advanced details included in the text.
I like The Essential Guide as well, but since I'm not using PHP, I find that there are areas where the advice they give simply doesn't work for me. For example, when I wanted to learn more about using templates, The Essential Guide gave only a very basic explanation, then went into far more detail about using PHP "includes" instead. While I agree that the PHP "includes" are probably the better choice, it's not one that is available to me since I don't have a PHP testing server (and don't want to go through the complexity of setting one up on my home computer). If you are using PHP, then this is definitely the book to get.
All in all, if I had to recommend one book to get started, it would be For Dummies, particularly if your needs are very simple and/or you're completely new to web site design. For those who want to move beyond the basics, I like The Missing Manual the best. This book could also be used by beginners as long as you're not put off by its length -- with over 1,000 pages, it's not one you'll be able to read cover to cover. I think The Essential Guide is best suited for those who want to create very complex designs, especially those that use PHP. It, too, is very clearly written, but more intimidating to a beginner.
DW is an extremely sophisticated and powerful web design/web authoring/web maintenance package with a long and steep learning curve, and this book is consequently not for the rank beginner. A pre-requisite is a working knowledge of HTML, without which the book would be very hard to follow, despite the fact that DW is billed as a WYSIWYG editor. With that caveat, the book is suitable for both the amateur and professional web designer.
Like all The Missing Manual Series volumes I have read, there are relatively frequent typos, unavoidable sequelae of rapid publication schedules, but the author provides a web site where readers can give feedback and suggest corrections.
The book lists for $45 (remarkably for the same price in Canada), but is available for under $30 at Amazon. It is also available in a Kindle version for $23.75. The Kindle version has the advantage of a more portable format, as the print version is rather heavy for a "vade mecum."
I will try to write a more complete review when I have finished the book, but in the meantime, I can recommend it as the most complete guide to Dreamweaver CS4 that one could ever hope for.
Another thing I liked about the book is that the author gave his frank opinion about different features of the software and, if he felt they were not useful, he said so! Often a book is sponsored by the software manufacturer and they will never admit there is anything wrong with the software!
I used the book for a beginner's class (32 hours) in Dreamweaver, and had hoped to cover around 800 pages, but that was too ambitious. However, the students, who were originally intimidated by the enormous book, seemed to have a good handle on Dreamweaver at the end of the session.
I would have liked to have had more video tutorials on the web site - there was only one - so be prepared to get your information from the book the old fashioned way.
Good book, lots of material
I've always been a fan of the Missing Manual series, and the Dreamweaver entry is no exception. It starts off easy, so it's good for beginners. It gets into a lot of the more powerful features, and a lot of the picky little details, so it's good for veterans. A great learning tool and reference guide, all in one.
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