Adobe releases Dreamweaver CS4 Beta

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Adobe has released beta versions of some of its software's CS4 editions, namely Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth.

Being a web developer myself, I'll write a bit about the new Dreamweaver.

I have yet to try out the Dreamweaver beta, but I've got quite a history with previous versions of this software. At school we learned how to create pages in it, back when it was still a Macromedia product. I've never been satisfied with Dreamweaver, but after a while you get to know software and it's just easier to work around its flaws. Nowadays I'm a TextMate zealot, but that's an entirely different story.

Live View

When checking out the CS4 new features, I was surprised to see that Dreamweaver now uses the WebKit engine to display your pages in what they call "Live View".

What does this mean then? The Live View feature is typical newbie functionality, web standards veterans won't rely on text editing software to provide an accurate preview. Thus; a newbie starts using Dreamweaver, with it's handy Live Preview, constantly checking and tweaking his website... in Safari.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good thing Adobe has chosen a standards-compliant browser. It's the way it should be. But it's striking that newbies to web development, who will probably (correct me if I'm wrong) be the target audience of features like "Live View", and who maybe not even ever have used the Safari browser, view their pages in a browser other than IE!

I can remember when I just started building websites. I checked everything in IE, simply because I had no knowledge of the existence of other browsers, let alone rendering differences between them.
So, taking all of the above in consideration, I think I can draw a couple of conclusions;

  • Newbies will be made aware of the existence of other browsers earlier in their career, because of the large difference in Live View's rendering and IE's rendering
  • Or, newbies will mark Live View as unreliable and never use it.

All in all, I think it's a good step. Enthusiastic Dreamweaver users will take the time to research these rendering differences and learn more about web standards and best practices than when they would just use Live View or whatever feature to drag and drop together a website.
In my day-time job examples of IE-only code, bad practices, invalid markup and whatnot bring tears to my eyes on a daily basis. Businesses come to us because they're slowly realising that some code is better than other. With Adobe taking this step I think newbies get educated at an earlier stage and therefore the web might just become a better place. Only a little better, of course.

Other features

In conclusion, here's a brief list of other features found in the CS4 beta:

Photoshop Smart Objects
Drag a PSD file into Dreamweaver to create a Smart Object, that automatically updates itself when edited in Photoshop. That's nice I guess. I like the way Smart Objects work in other Adobe software, especially the Illustrator - Photoshop cohesion this brings. Then again, I think this is only for people who use Live Preview.
Adobe AIR authoring support
An obvious step, yet a good thing.
Subversion integration
Also a very good thing. Subversion is one of the more popular version control systems and it's good to see it integrated in equally popular editing software.
HTML data sets
Sounds very .NET-ish to me, which is not good. Tightly coupling HTML, Javascript and probably some server-side data fetching only leads to code-bloat and unmanagable code (outside of Dreamweaver, that is). Also, if it's that easy to create "complex data sets", why would someone ever educate himself properly in the underlying technologies? Then again, I don't think that's one of Adobe's goals.
I would like to hear from people who have actually downloaded this beta, something I currently have not had time for. Let me know what you think!