In this article I will be reviewing the top new features in Dreamweaver CS4 and then deciding whether they are worth the $ 199 Adobe is charging for the upgrade. As a rule of thumb if you did not upgrade from CS2 to CS3 then the investment to upgrade from CS2 to CS4, also only for $ 199, is a no brainer.
Okay, so here are my top 6 new features:
1. Related Files and Code Navigator
This is a very clever new feature that is going to save Dreamweaver developers a ton of time. Updating CSS can be quite tedious, especially when the style sheet is a lengthy one. By clicking the included file shown in the Related Files bar you will now be able to see both the CSS source in Code view and the parent page in Design view. By selecting any particular item in Design view, Dreamweaver will automatically locate and highlight the corresponding CSS in Code view. This allows to you make any necessary changes to the CSS whilst at all times having a live preview in Design view. This feature can also be used for other include files, but editing CSS is where you will see the most benefit. I give this new feature a 10 out of 10.
2. Live View
Finally, what took them so long! Anyone who has been using Dreamweaver for any period of time will know that design view in Dreamweaver can look quite different to how a web page displays in a browser. As a result, every time you made a change in Dreamweaver you needed to click the F12 shortcut, which would then display the page in your default browser. Live view is an in-application browser view of your Web page which updates persistently as and when any code is edited. This is going to please a lot of Dreamweaver users. I give this new feature a 9 out of 10.
4. Adobe Photoshop Smart Objects
This feature allows you to insert any Adobe Photoshop file into Dreamweaver, and create a Smart object. Smart objects retain their link back to the original source file, which in this case is a .PSD file. This allows you to edit the image in Dreamweaver, which automatically also edits the source file, without ever opening Photoshop. This is also known as roundtrip editing, which has been available between Fireworks and Dreamweaver for some time already. This definitely improves the workflow between Photoshop and Dreamweaver for Photoshop users. I give this "new" feature a 6 out of 10.
5. Adobe InContext Editing
InContext Editing is a new web-based service offered by Adobe. Designers can make certain parts of Web pages editable, and then end users can access this Web service to update content. For those of you who are familiar with Adobe Contribute, this new feature would be very similar to the online version of Contribute. I was never really a big fan of Contribute however if your clients use Contribute, then you may want to look a little deeper at this new feature. I give this new feature a 5 out of 10.
6. New Interface
Dreamweaver CS4 has a new interface. Although it preserves a lot of familiar features, there's a much greater choice of prefefined workspace layouts, and there's virtually no limit on the way you can reorganiz the workspace to suit your own personal needs. I am still using the classic setting as I am so used to it. Can not say I would upgrade for this feature alone. I give this new feature a 5 out of 10.
As I often need to edit CSS files created by other Web developers, the new Related Files and Code Navigator feature alone is worth the $ 199 upgrade fee. I also like the Live View feature and I see that saving myself a lot of time. If on the other hand you use CSS sparing and you sometimes only build the odd website then I could understand why you will not want to upgrade, but everyday users will really enjoy this new release.