The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS3 with CSS, Ajax, and PHP . . . Wow, the title’s almost as long as the book! And what’s that “essential” doing in there? “Essential” suggests that it’sa book you can’t do without. So, who’s it for and why should you be reading it? Dreamweaver isn’t a difficult program to use, but it’s difficult to use well. It’s packed with features, and more have been added with each new version. The user interface has barely changed in the last few versions, so it’s easy to overlook some great productivity boosters if you don’t know where to find them. I have been using Dreamweaver on a daily basis for about seven years, pushing it to the limit and finding out its good points—and its bad ones, too. So, the idea of this book is to help you get the best out of Dreamweaver CS3, with particular emphasis on building dynamic web pages using the improved CSS management features, Spry—the Adobe implementation of Ajax—and the PHP server behaviors. But how can you get the best out of this book?
If you’re at home with the basics of (X)HTML and CSS, then this book is for you. If you have
never built a website before and don’t know the difference between an <a> tag and your Aunt Jemima, you’ll probably find this book a bit of a struggle. You don’t need to know every tag and attribute by heart, but I frequently dive into Code view and expect you to roll up your sleeves and get to grips with the code. It’s not coding for coding’s sake; the idea is to adapt the code generated by Dreamweaver to create websites that really work. I explain everything as I go along and steer clear of impenetrable jargon. As for CSS, you don’t need to be a candidate for inclusion in the CSS Zen Garden but you should understand the basic principles behind creating a style sheet.
What about Ajax and PHP? I don’t assume any prior knowledge in these fields. Ajax comes in many different guises; the flavor used in this book is Spry, the Adobe Ajax framework (code library) that is integrated into Dreamweaver CS3. Although you do some hand-coding with Spry, most features are accessed through intuitive dialog boxes. Dreamweaver also takes care of a lot of the PHP coding, but it can’t do everything, so I show you how to customize the code it generates. Chapter 10 serves as a crash course in PHP, and
Chapter 11 puts that knowledge to immediate use by showing you how to send an email from an online form—one of the things that Dreamweaver doesn’t automate. This book doesn’t attempt to teach you how to become a PHP programmer, but by the time you reach the final chapter, you should have sufficient confidence to look a script in the eye without flinching.