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Dr. Hain's various/sundry has helpful information about things that Dr. Hain has discovered by trial and error.

Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is a "WYSIWYG" type of content editor for web sites. It was invented by Macromedia and bought by Adobe. It is now part of the "Dreamweaver creative cloud", which is an Adobe subscription software platform. Dr. Hain has been using Dreamweaver for at least a decade.

The "model" that Dreamweaver uses is a "local" and "remote" version, with an optional "testing server". The local/remote is absolutely necessary. One should always have a local copy of whatever you are editing out there on the public internet. Who knows what might happen to that server out there ?

Regarding the testing server, the Dreamweaver "WSIWYG" model might make you think that you can just test your content locally in the editor. This is often OK if all you have is content, such as a blog, but doesn't work if you have something that is active (such as a little php program that tells you the date). This is because Dreamweaver doesn't have a "web environment" built in -- practically this would be impossible, so it can't show you the effect of putting in PHP code. To truly have a "live" environment, you need a testing server. This is a web server, perhaps a local "LAMP" stack, that executes your code. For security reasons (see below), having a testing server is a very good idea. Regarding the testing server, see below.

There are lots of good things about Dreamweaver. The WSIWYG feature speeds up content editing. One can throw a web page together in about an hour. It also does some housekeeping -- keeping track of "cloaked" files or directories, and keeping track of dates.

I use older versions of Dreamweaver (i.e 3, 4 and 5), that don't require subscriptions to Adobe, to edit my websites that are mainly content. I don't subscribe to the Adobe "creative cloud". Why buy the whole cow if all you want is milk?

Dreamweaver is a bit long in the tooth and these older versions of Dreamweaver don't really work on everything.

Dreamweaver issues -- Dropbox and PHP7

1. Dreamweaver does not "play well" with Dropbox. In particular, without warning, Dreamweaver CS4 and CS5 will just crash, leaving you (perhaps) with a bunch of unsaved files. This is unfortunate. The workaround is to use a temporary directory (local), and once you are done, sync it with Dropbox. This is a pretty big mess, because it adds an immense amount of overhead to the editing process and all sorts of awful things can happen if you use synchronizing programs (like copying back deleted files). That being said, it is a necessary evil.

2. Dreamweaver also crashes routinely on PHP7 hosted sites. This may be an interaction with dropbox however (see above).

Testing Server

As developed above, a testing server is a very good idea for Dreamweaver, because Dreamweaver does not have a secure upload/download methodology. There are many ways to go about this -- you can set up a LAMP stack on another computer on your local network, you can use a LAMP stack built into a NAS, you can even run a LAMP stack on the same PC that you are using to run Dreamweaver.

An interesting method to run a testing server is just to set up a LAMP stack locally, that accesses your local content directory. If you do this, there is no need to "upload" to the testing server, as your local directory is the same as the testing server's html. To do this, you have to be comfortable with editing the apache conf file, but this is not so hard.

Security:

These older versions of Dreamweaver need ftp to upload/download, which means that you have to install ftp on your public server.

The best way to deal with this is to use a local testing server.

PHP 7.*

One should generally keep software updated, and PHP has now gone from version 5.* to 7.*. In addition to innumerable conversion problems, this has also broke Dreamweaver. Presumably some global variable, shared by the crippled versions of Dreamweaver and PHP, has gotten co-opted by PHP. The only way around this is to give up on Dreamweaver, for sites that require PHP 7.*. Or just buy a subscription I suppose.

Dreamweaver alternatives.

As of 8/15/2020, in my opinion, the best alternative to Dreamweaver seems to be a combination of Blue Griffon and WinSCP.  One uses Blue Griffon to get a somewhat sloppy but usable wsiwyg editor.  One uses the very capable WinSCP (instead of the bundled fireftp) to upload files.  The trick here is that you have to set the editor in WinSCP to Blue Griffon.  This is still pretty awkward.  Blue Griffon is crude and seems to have no active user community to speak of.  WinSCP is an awesome way to upload files, in a secure way, but it is not nearly as nice as Dreamweaver (when it is working).  

Wordpress is more popular web editor, but it is a very different idea. Wordpress stores code in a mysql database. This allows one to drastically change the "look" of a Wordpress site because the look is separated from the content. We don't like this idea, because it makes it hard to add in PHP or other languages in one's code.

JetBrains is a programming environment, that is not well suited to content. It has a very steep learning curve - -we think too steep for content editing.

Notepad++ is a very capable editor, that is not at all WYSIWYG, and not very suitable for content for this reason, but not bad at all for code.  With Notepad++, you lose the Wysiwyg aspect of Blue Griffon. This is unfortunate but one can live with it.

Atom is similar to Notepad++.

Eclipse is an open source programming editor, that is again not very suitable for content.

CoffeeCup is an attempt to produce a cheaper WSIWYG editor, but it is not as good as the old versions of Dreamweaver, crippled though they are. It is about as clunky as Blue Griffon.

© Copyright September 20, 2020 , Timothy C. Hain, M.D. All rights reserved.
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