Book Review:
Dreamweaver in a Nutshell

Dreamweaver in a Nutshell by Heather Williamson and Bruce Epstein.
470 pp. O’Reilly Press, 2001. $29.95.

This book is my first foray into industrial-strength web-design literature. I won’t hesitate to say that I was very intimidated when I opened it. I approached this book as something of an “instruction book” about learning more advanced Dreamweaver skills. Ah, that was the discrepancy! It is not instructional – it is a reference book. It even says so on the cover. My mistake.

What is the difference? A dictionary is a reference book; a textbook on grammar or English would be an instruction book. Trying to learn Dreamweaver from an O’Reilly “Nutshell” book is like trying to learn English from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Once I had realized that, all intimidation faded. You don’t have to understand everything in the O.E.D., and the same goes for this book. On the other hand, if you have to look up a word, the O.E.D. is the best place to go. Same for this book when it comes to Dreamweaver.

Each time I hit a snag in my web-designing with Dreamweaver, I would look for solutions in the four different Dreamweaver books I have at my desk. Invariably, if the problem was complex enough, the other books would have nothing on the subject. Nutshell would have the specific problem with detailed solutions. (Of course I never would have been able to understand any of those solutions had I not read the other books first).
My only problem with this book now is the title. If this is a “nutshell” then the Taj Mahal is a “house.”

Recommendation: Wait until you are fairly proficient at Dreamweaver before you distract yourself with this book. Once you reach that level, or if you intend to use Dreamweaver professionally, you will find that this book is truly a “must,” and I don’t mean that lightly. I cannot imagine a professional working without this book.

At $29.95, this book is a very good deal. No filler, just total information.
– Brian Foley

Copyright ©2002 by Brian Foley. This article originally appeared in the May 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.