I remember the good old days when I’d jump on the computer and fire up Dreamweaver to either make a new web site or to make changes to a site already up. Those were the days when the web was new, back in the mid to late nineties. If you were around back then, you remember the days when you were cutting edge if you had a site, bonus if it actually worked. Points were lost if you just used an image map to create your site, or the worst was having some software build it for you, “save as web page” ugg!
There were a lot of problems building a site back in the day, but over time, mostly because of large corporations getting into the mix, the web design process has become more domesticated. It was a something that nearly anyone could do if they really tried hard, now it’s left to services like Squarespace or Wix and just a step above them is WordPress. This to me is just awful, not for using those services, but that there was a technical aspect to building a site. Just by having a site meant something to others, mainly that you were dedicated, and depending on what the site looked like, maybe talented too.
There were two ways to build a site back then. If you had a programming background, you could code it with something like c++. The problem was that the site built this way were awful to look at. If you were a right-brainer, then you went for a wysiwyg editor like Micorsoft’s Frontpage, Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, and lets not forget Adobe’s GoLive.
The war was on. Frontpage was basically considered your parents choice and suffered from corporate bloat everywhere. To upload a Frontpage site you had to install special files on the server to ensure that your site would work. Adobe’s Golive was the second offering from Adobe. For some reason they just didn’t get any traction or respect from designers back in the day. Then there was the much loved Macromedia Dreamweaver. Nearly everyone I knew used Dreamweaver and it usually showed in their sites. There was a sense that Macromedia was an outlier, based on the idea that they cared about helping people to build sites not about greed.
Then the black day that I’ll always remember as the beginning of the end came when I heard the announcement that Adobe had purchased Macromedia. I can’t tell you how hard it was to take the news. There was talk that during the merging process that all the up and coming young talent wanted to switch over to the Macromedia division and all the business types wanted to head to the main offices at Adobe. It seemed so appropriate at the time.
Okay, before I start on my rant, I want to make sure that I do give Adobe some respect for Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and InDesign. These programs are still very good, even if they seem to be slipping a little over the last few years. I absolutely love ‘content-aware’ and swear I can’t figure out how PS does it. I just watched a video on After Effects CC2019 that showed content-aware being used on videos. Too cool! So adobe does do some things right.
I was using Dreamweaver back in 1998 almost on a daily basis until about 2014. At that time I was pretty good at programming css and html and didn’t really use Dreamweaver expect for basic previews. I also taught web design at a university and we used Dreamweaver for the first two classes. Mid-2014 I went on a five year trip around Asia and put Dreamweaver behind me. When I needed to update a site I coded it by hand and to help with my blog, I changed from a straight CMS to a WordPress site. So for about 5 years my interaction with DW was almost nil.
Let’s jump to today, or rather about two days ago when for a week I was trying to create a new site with DW. Remember I used it for 18 years and even taught it, but the week working with it was painful. The interface is just awful, they’ve switched, in an attempt to give access to some of the most popular features, to not allowing you to create the workspaces as you want. There may be some special place that you can go to configure it perfectly, but I don’t have the commitment to jump through hoops.
Get this, I edited something in my CSS in DW, and then changed my mind hit cmd+z to undo. Nothing happened, so I did it again and still nothing, then one more time still nothing. Eventually I gave up and went to the source code side and noticed that I was missing my last entries there. I guess for some reason DW was undoing the source code edits that I made while I was in the CSS. Just imagine how hard it was for me to fix. I couldn’t remember exactly was the last three or four changes that I made were or exactly how many undos I actually did. In that instance, I was so angry and frustrated that I went to my browser and searched Duckduckgo.com for, “why does dreamweaver suck ass?” I was surprised to see a full page of people complaining about DW and how it has gone downhill.
As I’ve mentioned I generally do most of my designing using code and although I didn’t mention it before that for the most part coding is just easier in BBEdit. If you’re not familiar with BBEdit it’s just a simple code editor that gives you some help but doesn’t seem to get in your way. I mention this because another one of my pet peeves with DW is that the highlighting of code is a mess. I literally can’t see the cursor through the highlight and if I can’t see the cursor I don’t know where I am putting my edits. I went through the preferences trying to eliminate the highlighting feature but couldn’t find it. Oh, there were lots of highlighting prefs that I could change, but I couldn’t find the one that was annoying me. In the end I just tried to make due. The highlighting also has the worst tendency to highlight the entire line when I only want to add a comma, or remove a class.
Another terrible thing that I have been dealing with today is that DW will not refresh the design window. So I add an image, and it doesn’t show. Think about it, DW’s only function is a what you see is what you get (wysiwyg) editor, but you make changes and nothing happens. It so sad.
Just searching the net looking for people complaining about DW will prove that I’m not exaggerating that Adobe has dropped the ball so to speak on DW. They took a program that was much loved by designers and totally trashed it. Why? I’m not sure. I tend to think that their insatiable goal of updating their software yearly requires that they make changes just to make changes. Who knows for sure, it could be that an up and coming wysiwyg web program has a feature and Adobe adds feels that it needs to add it into DW.
I get the feeling that Adobe is getting ready to discontinue DW. I’ve seen some posts about it and it makes sense since it is almost unusable to all but the most dedicated users. I mean what can they do to fix it, start removing features? It seems logical to just create a new web building program and then discontinue the mess we know as DW. I will still probably have to use it since I need to be able to teach it, but I will not endorse it or use it for my own sites. It just has turned out to be a turd of a program.