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The release of Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 (as part of Studio 8) comes at a time when the graphic and interactive design community is buzzing with speculation about what apps will be left standing after the Adobe\'s acquisition of Macromedia is completed. While Macromedia spokespeople told me they can\'t yet comment on acquisition issues, Dreamweaver will likely emerge from the process as the single dominant professional Web design package. I got an official \"no comment\" from contacts at Macromedia, but sources at Adobe winked and nodded when asked if Dreamweaver would win the battle of the Web-development tools.
Dreamweaver is, of course, the established tool of choice for the professional Web design community. Adobe\'s GoLive, while a stable, powerful set of tools, has never achieved the widespread implementation of Dreamweaver.
In the time between when Macromedia released MX 2004 and now, Web design has continued to evolve in profound ways. In particular, Web content and formatting has changed significantly on two fronts: content and formatting. More and more, site content relies not on static text, images, and data, but on embedded content from Really Simple Syndication (RSS) sources and other data resources (such as online databases). Live content supplies the lure that makes visitors return frequently for up-to-the-minute info.
The other front of dramatic change is formatting, with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) steadily replacing HTML as the lingua franca of page design. CSS is more flexible, more powerful, and adapts to more viewing environments. The combination of live data and CSS have been a driving factor in transforming how we create and maintain Web sites.
The new elements in Dreamweaver 8 are focused on the changes in content and format. For example, there is the new unified CSS Panel, CSS Layout Visualization, and new XML tools that facilitate embedding and applying styles to linked RSS content.
While the flashy changes involve XML and CSS, Dreamweaver 8 also includes improvements that stabilize the program. Developers will appreciate the new background file transfer, which adds the ability to transfer files between local and remote sites in the background while you edit page content. Those of us who organized our site-management projects so that we took a long break while Dreamweaver shut down for file transfer now have to find a new excuse for an espresso run.