My Wish List For Dreamweaver CS5 – Reviewed

In my last post, I briefly made some suggestions as to some of the features I would like to see incorporated into Dreamweaver CS5 in order to make it an even more killer application than it is right now. I have now managed to throughly use Dreamweaver CS4 and would like to post my reviewed wish list for CS5.

PHP Support.

Dreamweaver CS4’s PHP Support has always been good, but far below expectations. Currently, Dreamweaver has some good code generation for PHP when it come to developing applications. It generates appreciable code for SQL SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE with appreciable PHP code for accessing the recordset generated. It supports dynamically generated tables and lists using the generated recordset which makes it very useful for building simple applications.

However, here are the problems I have identified:

  1. OOP Support: Dreamweaver can be a pain when developing larger scale applications. Since it does not support object oriented php concepts, coding an OOP application can be a bit tedious.  Several other IDEs such Netbeans, Eclipse, Apatana Studio and more are working hard to make OOP PHP a breeze, and if Dreamweaver does not step up, its going to be hard to compete in the future when Java based IDEs such as Netbeans and Ecllipse finally get HTML UI Designers due to the introduction of components such as XHTMLRenderer, JWebPane and such.
  2. Code Completion: Dreamweaver’s code completion is still below par for all its major languages aside HTML and CSS. This is seriously required to improve developer performance when building large scale OOP PHP applications.
  3. Framework Support: Some people have advocated that Dreamweaver support such popular frameworks such CakePHP, WordPress and Drupal. That is all fine and dandy, but I guess I would prefer that Adobe come up with a simple framework of their own. Nothing that solves everything (like these other Frameworks want to do) but something simple to get applications started.This would probably consist of probably a more OOP way of handling and generating recordsets, queries and database connections. The current method is good and all, but some novice coders can almost immediately come up with a mess of code scattered in multiple files, included in all sorts of places. I’ve seen coders who would just prefer to write code that pulls records from the database just above the point where  they want to display a dynamic table. This also leads to non standard ways of coding that can make any team very confused.
  4. Updated Data Objects: I would much appreciate it if the Dreamweaver team would review and update some of their Data Objects, especially the User Authentication objects. Some these objects are so prone to SQL injection attacks that it is funny. But all said and done, they are a useful starting point, however developers must know what they are doing else they could end up building very security lax sites.

Javascript Support

Up until Dreamweaver CS4, Javascript support had been quite poor. However, with CS4 this support has been greatly improved, although from a development point of view, it still tends to be poor. Code completion has been added, which to a great extent is very useful. Some developers have even added extensions for libraries such JQuery. Currently, this extension has some incompatibilties with Dreamweaver CS4’s own code completion.

The problems I have identified in this area:

  1. Code completion needs to be improved in terms of user gestures when using the keyboard. IE when the desire option is shown in the code completion list, hitting “.” for instance will not select the item. You must hit ENTER first before you hit “.” again to continue.

    e.g.”document.” -> POPUPs up code completion list
    “document.getEle” -> selects item in the list
    Hitting “(” results in “document.getEle(” instead of “document.getElementById(”
    However, hitting ENTER results in “document.getElementById(” which is what one wants. However, having to make a trip to the ENTER key between every popup result can slow down coding slightly.

  2. Again, when coding Javascript in different files that have not yet been joined together in some sort HTML document via the “<script>” tag, it is also not possible to get code completion. Hence, you can’t easily work with multiple JS files and get code completion when required.

My suggestion for the code completion problem would be for dreamweaver to be able to have a site wide SCRIPTs folder so as to be able to pick scripts for code completion. This however, can result in a performance hit for the application especially if multiple javascript libraries such TinyMCE, JQuery and Mootools are involved. So probably it would be better if one can define the scripts for which code completion should be constructed from.

Conclusion

I believe, currently after using Dreamweaver CS4, these are the major areas it fall short for me. Aside these, the application is stellar and kick ass. Currently, I see no other application on the horizon the compares with Dreamweaver in terms of its ability to design websites / web application user interfaces with ease and dynamism. Its CSS and general HTML support is stellar. Its Live View option is neatly done and more over, its site administration and team collaboration tools are more than adequate.

I believe Adobe stands at the verge of making a great impact in 2010, so they should take the opportunity and put themselves far ahead of the pack and provide some of these basic missing features so as to make the developers life that much easier.

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30 thoughts on “My Wish List For Dreamweaver CS5 – Reviewed

  1. hi

    i agree with everything. i do my php in zend and all the other in DW (css xhtml).
    i guess it depends what you need to do. if you are just a php coder then zend but if you do much more then DW is great.

    oop is horrible in DW and code complition (with completion to my variables and methods). if these 2 issue will be fixed then DW is the best.

  2. Howdy – ive been poring over the website for a while. Decided to articulate how tremendous this site is.

  3. As a “designer” rather than a programmer I would like to see tighter integration of 3rd party javascript libraries in the same way that Spry is integrated. Adobe may be opposed to this if they are trying to promote Spry above the others, but until Spry is more complete it seems only fair to give their customers what they are looking for.

    1. Well personally, I doubt Adobe may take that road. I personally do not even use spry that much, so adding more JS libraries which may not be used, is just gonna bloat the DW Installation, which in my opinion is already seriously bloated!

  4. Am I the only one whom pages a rendered differently in DW preview than in FF or IE. It’s like having another incompatible browser! First i need that DW will use exactly the same render engine (IE or FF set by switch] that is installed on my computer, or better, version that I could chose.

    1. It is sad to say but I doubt you are ever gonna get IE or FF embedded in DW, since it has its own legal and financial implications. At least Adobe have done well to provide an embedded browser for testing purposes. I personally do not use it much aside from the once in a while glance to see what my page looks like in DW’s preview. I usually use Opera for all my development work, and then later test and debug in IE, FF and Safari. I do not bother to test Chrome, since it and Safari virtually the same, and also, I really do not like the browser that much.

  5. I’d like to see Adobe include the ability to deploy the software through Group Policy. I’ve read some promising things on the Adobe blog that this will be included in CS5, but it’s definitely top on my wishlist as an IT Pro.

  6. OOP Support would mean for ColdFusion/PHP/Ruby/J2EE/etc etc… there’s many open source languages that are popular (meaning hundreds of thousands of programmers)…

    PHP may be popular in smaller shops, but it’s use in most larger shops is limited, and most open source programmers pirate or get their IDE for free, so why would Adobe target that demographic more than the large shops where people pay for their copy? PHP isn’t the leading language anyway, .Net is (don’t worry I’m not a .net programmer, it’s an unfortunate fact.)

    Adobe has put it’s programming efforts into Eclipse for developer IDE’s, so expect nothing here. Grab a copy of ColdFusion Builder and plugin a framework plugin! After all it’s just Aptana (which is eclipse) under the hood.

    As for ajax frameworks the leading two are jQuery and ExtJS by far (stats seem to show it depends ‘how’ you learnt programming to which you choose – interesting really), but the following is massive for both.

    CKEditor (formally FCKEditor) is the most used editor by far, TinyMCE is also popular, but not by far as popular due to integration issues in the past.

    1. I personally do not have the statistics to show which language is more popular, but personally I was/am of the notion that PHP is quite popular especially since enterprises such as Facebook run on it. I guess other larger applications which are not necessarily public would be running on .NET or J2EE because of the usual management perception that they are most robust and scalable.

      I guess I’ll be sticking to Netbeans then, since with upcoming 6.8 release, the PHP support has been bumped up to 5.3, and I still have the awesome support for J2EE and Ruby available for when ever I decide to pick them up. But I seriously hope Adobe do make the right decisions, especially with Javascript improvements, else it might seriously hamper its adoption in certain circles.

  7. I kind of wish they would fix the features they have, Adobe seems far more fond of implementing new features than they are of supporting existing features.

    The entire product falls apart in sometimes hilarious ways when you try to use it on larger scale projects.

    For example I’m glad they implemented subversion but hard coding which version of subversion they support was a total clown shoes move. I especially like what happens if you use ldap authentication with your SVN server and have intrusion detection/lockout implemented on your network. Having to disconnect from your network before you can go into DW to change your SVN password is right up there with explaining to all the non DW using devs on your team how they can’t upgrade to a newer version of SVN because DW can’t handle it.

    Many of the neat little tools such as Check Accessibility and Live View simply do not work when you try to use them on pages that need authentication to get to or simply can’t handle something like a variable doc_root in an include path.

    I was pretty excited about the split code view as well but that quickly became useless when I realized it only seems to support a top and bottom window (you would think in this day of widescreens there would be a side by side option).

    Then there is the whole O’Reilly quick reference manual. PHP has an amazing online manual that they will let you download (with comments), the O’Reilly quick reference guide for php is useless. Can we get the ability import the php manual w/o building an extension? Oh yeah I have that extension but is on the right click menu and I can’t assign a hotkey to it!

    How about we get that server debug panel working with php, so we can check syntax if php is installed on the local machine?

    And for those of us who actually use the test server can we get a hotkey way to put files to it? Updating an external css file to the test server is clunky at best and NO having DW update all associated files is not an option.

    Speaking of hotkeys can we get some love here? Hotkey to Select Parent Tag? Balance Braces? Can they open it up so I can assign my own hotkeys to anything on a menu or menubar?

    Speaking of tags and braces, you already have that nifty feature where you auto indent the closing brace in php, can you port some of that niceness over to html tags too?

    I could go on and on. I think DW has the richest feature set of any editor out there, unfortunately it doesn’t scale up beyond the mom and pop web designer level too well. It is in need of an actionscript 2.0->3.0 type of overhaul but I seriously doubt Adobe will risk pissing off their “designer” customer base and do what needs to be done to make this a product the code monkeys will ever love.

    1. @ Eric – regarding this line “I was pretty excited about the split code view as well but that quickly became useless when I realized it only seems to support a top and bottom window (you would think in this day of widescreens there would be a side by side option).”

      – If you are talking about split of code view and design view then – check the option : View -> Split Vertically in DW CS4.

      1. @Chandra: Awesome!. I didn’t even notice that option was available. Okay so Eric, you ain’t got a case. lol!

  8. Oh and I forgot one of my biggest pet peeves, can they just get rid of the WinFileCache-xxxxx.dat file. It regularly corrupts (causing the weirdest side effects) and when deleted it doesn’t seem to have any detrimental effects. Whatever invisible benefits it is granting seem to not be noticeable enough to offset the detriments. Usually when this thing goes haywire for us it results in files not updating on the server (even though all the DW logs say they are updated).

  9. When I started out, I used almost every features that DW has to offer. Later on, I began to know that, all of them are crap.

    Today, I use DW because its a text editor that supports HTML and CSS well and some js and PHP. It has clean user interface. Its a FTP tranferer. It shows related files (only available in CS4). It has project management. Thats it!

    My wish list for DW is, DW should focus on programming languages support, perfect its code completion, make faster FTP tranfer. Thats it!

    1. “My wish list for DW is, DW should focus on programming languages support, perfect its code completion, make faster FTP tranfer. Thats it!”

      My sentiments exactly. However, I do not think DW is crap, it has its flaws, but all in all it is a great product. I’ve even built a whole Content Management System around its general code base. Depends on how you use it though!

  10. What I WANT in Dreamweaver is a real XSL support, which could at least support multiple xsl:template tags in one file.
    Until Dreamweaver support that, it’ll be a crap and way too expensive software.
    Adobe don’t understand they need to fix their bad implementations before adding new features. And as always, this new features will also be bad implemented. But commercialy, it’s better to say “we have a new version with 10 new features” instead of saying “we have a new version without any new feature, but we fixed all the previous crap”.

    1. And one more time, adobe has failed because CS5 doesn’t support XSL correctly. Even the notepad is more useful to edit my templates… 😦

  11. It would be cool if the SVN support/functionality gets extended en the version gets updated.

    Further I would really apreciate it if multiple FTP connections were allowed. You now have to stop editing because there is a connection opened.

  12. I was using homesite since Allaire times and had to switch to DW since they discotinued homesite development.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love DW but I am missing some important features and there are still bugs in there.

    1. Own snippets. Homesite (and all other IDE’s) do give you an option to write your own snippets and then simply recall them.. for example:
    pecho ->
    so if I wrote in editor “pecho” and hit a shortcut key I would get the code above with cursor positioned in place of the pipe.
    or
    th -> $this->|
    etc… in time my productivity jumped a lot… but when I switched from HS to DW I was really disappointed and astonished there are is no such functionality!

    2. Ability to create favorite shortcuts in the files panel (windows 7 style)+MS office menu style… I am using complex frameworks and it is a pain open so many sub-folders in the project… and in each there are a lot of files (scripts) I use hardly ever. I should be able to create shortcuts and the list would also learn what files/folders I am using often/frequently and display on the top and hide those I rarely use (like menus in ms office)…. This ability should be very powerful and should give me a absolute power of customization!

    3. Better PHP and OOP support. NetBeans is great. At least I should have a panel with listed all classes’ methods. Maybe even an option to collapse/expand all methods in the class (you know code inside the methods)… for better organization and readability.

    4. Support for jQuery (code completition).

    5. Support for css3 and html5

    6. faster FTP support and maybe option to connect offline and online sites – maybe using commands like upload changes, diff changes, etc…or better support for svn

  13. A great feature that would help speed up editing css and color schemes would be to add a highlighter color on hex values that correspond with that particular color, the color picker tool is very limited in its usefulness. Having all hex values highlighted in their display color would help a ton with on the fly editing

  14. Definitely CSS3 (rgba!) and HTML5 plus JQuery support and even the -moz and -webkit browser-specific CSS directives.

    I think a lot of features people want are there but buried amongst all the other unwanted bloat. A bit of streamlining wouldn’t go amiss.

    Better handling of templates too with the ability to publish a copy of the site with all of the template statements stripped out. And what about some basic SEO tools built in (Google sitemaps for starters)?

  15. Layout tables are a taboo subject at Adobe. They were removed from Dreamweaver CS4, because I guess there was no way to make them work right. Without them, designers do not have a nice time changing their mind in Dreamweaver. Tables are no fun and the handling of DIV based design is less than fun. However, I had an idea. What if your web design tool actually behaved like a design tool? What if it made one file to hold all the extra information required to do sophisticated design and then published out at the end. Well, it turns out that Freeway Pro does ALL that. I have a new name for Dreamweaver-Sleepstealer. That’s what it did for me. I just built a 60 page site in less than three days in Freeway. When the client through navigation changes at me, they were dealt with on a master page and not through includes. Oh well, I guess Adobe could always buy the company and destroy the product, like they did for GoLive and Grain Surgery.

    1. A 60 page website? Why the heck would you want to do that using actual files, when you could set up a CMS such as Joomla, Drupal or even my current in the works CMS “KANCMS” (http://www.kancms.org) and just develop a theme for the site and you should be half way in business. All your content is kept in the database so there are fewer files to manipulate. Unless you are developing an application, and even in that case “includes” are a far better option.

      Even more, Dreamweaver already supports the “MasterPages” idea by providing “Templates”, even KAN is built using this template system, hence you can change one link on the template and instantly all the hard coded files are updated and ready to be published. I use includes as well in the template however, so that fewer files need to be updated and replublished.

      I would not want to imagine that you are new to web development but I would suggest you learn the tool fully before overstating your opinion.

  16. Eu tambem ficaria muito grato se a equipe desse mais atenção a JSP/ServLet (Java).

  17. So very true about DW junk code.

    I will be soon making the leap from XP Pro/SP3 to W7; Dreamweaver is not coming along on that trip. The editors I have been testing and like so far is CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor, Amaya by W3C.org & VWD – Visual Web Developer Express by Microsoft.

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