The new version of the program by Macromedia is a very good all-round site management tool. While it does take a while to get used to, it is extraordinarily powerful and allows even fairly naive users to create very sophisticated web pages.

There are a number of features in this package which are outstanding and makes writing web pages a joy.

One of the best features is that it is possible to open sites which have been created using another package, edit the pages in Dreamweaver and then return it to the original package without totally destroying the HTML coding in the process. Anyone who has opened an HTML document using Microsoft Front Page or Netscape Composer will know how much extra coding these packages add to an otherwise simple document. Dreamweaver does none of this, making it a good adjunct to other tools a site creator might wish to use.

Dreamweaver also makes use of some of the recommendations of W3C regarding style sheets, dynamic HTML and layers. This package allows the creator to layer text and images (in a manner similar to what is possible in Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro) and also to animate them. This means that a piece of text or a cartoon or photo can be made to move around the viewer's screen either automatically or when a particular button is pushed. This sort of feature only works if the viewer is using one of the newer browsers, generally version 4 or above of either Netscape Communicator or Internet Explorer.

The package does allow for "graceful degradation", which means that if the a viewer comes to the page with an older browser, the page will still display but not all of the features will work. An animated layer can be told to show up as a static image on older browsers. The most useful tool for me inside this package was a style sheet creator. This allows me to specify how different HTML tags will look when displayed. As an example I could make a Heading One tag now appear to be in Garamond font, bold, size 18, red, and underlined. I can make similar specifications for other HTML tags and put all of these specifications together in a style sheet document which exists on its own in my website. From then on I can point to this style sheet from my HTML documents and it will render all tags in the manner I have specified in the style sheet. This means that with minimal coding I can adjust the look and feel of a website simply by making changes to the style sheet. As this is stored separately I only need to make the alterations once and they will be automatically reflected in all documents within the site.

There is an option to have a style sheet for individual documents but I don't find this to be anywhere near as useful. Blocks of text can also be formatted using a style sheet "class" tag inside a document. This is the one place where I would use a style sheet inside a web page. A handy way for learning more about HTML is Dreamweaver's ability to edit the code either simply by writing in the display window, which looks just like a word processor, or by editing the source. Both windows can be open simultaneously and an operation in one automatically and immediately effects the other window also, allowing new users to see exactly what particular changes in code or layout does to the HTML.