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Dreamweaver MX 2004, the Missing Manual

by David Sawyer McFarland. 836 pp. Pogue Press/O’Reilly, 2003. $34.95.

The latest edition of the Dreamweaver Missing Manual series is much like previous versions in its logical, comprehensive explanation of Macromedia’s leading web design software. Using this manual will enable beginners to systematically create a web site from scratch while giving experts access to clear, detailed illustrations of all that is new in the update from MX to MX 2004.

Comparing the tables of contents of the previous edition and this one, Cascading Style Sheets are really coming to the fore as the way to define the look of html web pages. An expanded discussion of them has become the first chapter instead of the third in Part Two: Building a Better Web Page. After the second chapter on basic page layout, CSS is returned to with a discussion of using it for layout with layers, something that I would not dare attempt without these clear explanations.

One perk of the book is that the author has posted ten folders of tutorial materials for download which correlate to the tutorials at the ends of the relevant chapters. Online there is also the finished tutorial as a web page, plus a page of errata.

One new feature in Dreamweaver MX 2004 that gets only passing mention in the book is the expanded mode when in Layout view. I would have given it a bit of discussion for I find it extremely useful when dealing with a table that I have created by slicing up an image in Photoshop or Fireworks.

This a manual that will I keep on hand and use a lot, so I wish the outside margins were not 1.625" wide on a 7" wide page, while the gutter margins are only .625". One has to keep pressing on the spine to read it when it’s on your real desktop. Not what I was taught to do with books. Other than that, I may leave home without this book, but I don’t use DWMX without it.

– John Maas
Copyright ©2004 by John Maas. This review appeared in the April 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.