Which Program to use for study?

  sharkfin 21:53 06 Oct 2005


I recently starting a course specialising in Multimedia and web design and I noticed that the main software used was Dreamwever 4. I find dreamweaver really tough and complicated compared to something like frontpage. Although we do get taught on how to use dreamweaver, its not enought and alot of the learning is done during self study time. I.e, buy a manual and learn on your own. I would rather use frontpage but I'm worried I might be limiting my job opportunities in the future if I dont learn dreamweaver 4 throughly. Is it an industry standard piece of software in web design??? Which program do you think I should use?

I guess if I get set assignments, I can use frontpage at home and no one will know but if its a group project then will the two be compatible?

  Bebee 22:27 06 Oct 2005

There are people here who can answer the 'industry standard' question, but if I was planning to make a career out of web design I would want to learn both to see what they could offer - best tools for the job - (although most of all I would want to learn about good design).

As someone who just wants a personal web site that displays my content well I stick to what works for me.

  Taran 22:48 06 Oct 2005

There isn't really an industry standard web authoring program, not as such anyway.

Dreamweaver enjoys a remarkable popularity which is mainly due to it being able to produce cleaner results than the competition could a few years ago. If we look beyond that point then it's actually trailing behind FrontPage 2003 for data-driven websites.

Some commercial web developers use FrontPage, others prefer Dreamweaver, or Adobe GoLive or NetObjects Fusion. Some even prefer to hard code their work in plain text editors for reasons best know to themselves.

Limiting yourself for future job opportunities is also a difficult one to answer. Nobody gets hired on the basis that they can use Dreamweaver and FrontPage (regardless of version) but it makes sense to learn both to a high level for your own skills to be up to par in the event that opportunities come your way.

Go to Google and use these search query strings, including the quote marks:


"dreamweaver 4"+tutorial

"dreamweaver 4"+getting started

Then do the same for FrontPage.

There are loads of online tutorials and most of them are far easier to follow and often better presented than most books/manuals. I've yet to read a Dreamweaver of FrontPage book I'd be happy to recommend in full.

My actual concern here is that you say this is related to a course you recently started. If you are on any kind of multimedia course, especially one you're paying for, you really should be using Dreamweaver MX at least, or MX 2004 if possible. Dreamweaver 8 has recently been released but the chances of finding many learning establishments with that installed are slim. You should expect Dreamweaver MX though - in fact, I'd pretty much insist on it.

Dreamweaver 4 was released around Christmas 2000 if memory serves, and its features, though still capable, are well out of date compared to the later versions (MX, MX 2004 and 8). In particular it offers no native ability to create XHTML pages without some interesting hacks to force it to do so, and even then support for XHTML code is poor compared to later versions. Similarly its JavaScript library is outdated and its ability to handle media files in web pages is shabby compared to later versions.

I worry when schools/colleges and whatnot offer courses like this using old software. Dreamweaver 4 is, in the right hands, a superb program. The more recent versions are far more capable and any learning centre offering media related courses should give students the best possible start by letting them use a recent version of the program. I appreciate licensing costs and so on, but really they do you no favours at all by letting you loose on software that is nearly five years old.

  Taran 22:49 06 Oct 2005


  Taran 22:51 06 Oct 2005

I was going to say:

could I add that due to its overwhelming popularity Dreamweaver is considered a more or less essential part of any web developers toolbox.

I still balk at terming it an industry standard though - mainly because I don't feel it deserves the title.

  sharkfin 11:33 07 Oct 2005

Hi there.

Thankyou for the responses. I went back into university this morning for an hour and had a check on the computers and indeed they are using Dreamweaver MX (Sorry). Alot of the computers are very old and I can see some software which is really old such as Photoshop 6.

I havent really got much knowledge of this industry and dont know how people get employed but I assume depending on the emplyer that they would require you to know a bit about the software they use. Be it, dreamweaver, golive or frontapge etc. So is it correct that I should dabble a bit in every software? But concentrate and specialise in one? If my university is teaching Dreamweaver then I guess it should be that and I should leave frontpage and learn that in my own time.

Yes my leacturer said that everyone and anyone can design a webpage but what we are here to do is to learn about design itself and what it is that makes a website effective. Having the techinical skills is second.

Taran, can I ask you what you use?

  Forum Editor 23:47 07 Oct 2005

but I'm fairly sure he'll be using the same software as me. I use DreamWeaver, FrontPage 2003 and NOF, but not necessarily in that order of preference. FrontPage 2003 has a great deal going for it, and in fact with data-driven sites it's far better than DreamWeaver in my opinion.

Most professional site designers/builders would probably say much the same - nobody is likely to develop sites using only one tool - and most of us will tweak code manually when required.

I would support your lecturer's comments - pretty well anyone can build a website, but designing one so that it's an effective communication/selling medium is an entirely different thing. That requires a degree of training, coupled with some experience, and preferably some innate design talent. Not everyone has a sense of how to present a product or service online to best advantage visually and textually, and some people will never produce sites which stand out from the crowd for that reason, no matter how much technical skill they acquire.

  sharkfin 19:53 08 Oct 2005

Thankyou for the replys! You have given me extremely helpful advice and I have decided that I will stick to dreamweaver and use that through my studys but will still try and explore other software avenues as well.

Thankyou again.

  sharkfin 19:53 08 Oct 2005

PS, when I create a website worthy to be viewed by all, I will post on here ;)

  Forum Editor 20:28 08 Oct 2005

whether you think it's worthy or not. Everyone had to start the same way, and I'm horrified when I think back to my first offering - back then it was hand-coding most of the way, and boy, was it a learning curve. The problem was, I did most of my practising on clients' sites. Most of them were so delighted to actually have a web site that they didn't object to the odd error or ten.

  Taran 22:13 09 Oct 2005

Since you ask, I use almost exactly the same as Forum Editor as my daily tools for web development.

Microsoft FrontPage, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive and NetObjects Fusion in about that order. I used to use Dreamweaver a bit more than I do now, but FrontPage 2003 kicks the tar out of it for data driven websites and so I've been using that as a mainstay for quite a while.

It depends what I'm doing really, since choosing the program to work with is often a result of the requirements of the job in hand.

No single program does it all and the more you learn about more than one program the better armed you'll be.

There are times when FrontPage is a far more logical choice to me than Dreamweaver and other times when Adobe GoLive gets a good workout. I sometimes even do a lot of work with one program and then open the same files into another, just to utilise certain tools they may have.

Good luck with your studies.

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