Die Dreamweaver!

Dreamweaver just about tipped me over the edge into full blown insanity today. It kept reverting to using the wrong library items on web pages. I like Dreamweaver, and use it daily at work, but generally I am just as happy using a syntax highlighting text editor. I tend not to use Dreamweaver's "advanced" features such as templates and libraries because I have had very bad experiences (like today's) with updating pages across a site.

Templates and library items are, in my opinion, okay options for small sites, with single or limited maintainers and infrequent updates of shared items. However, for a busy and dynamic intranet server side scripting and content management systems are far superior. However, thanks to stupid decisions by our manager I have to build all the non-news and non-events pages in Dreamweaver (he wanted FrontPage!?!) using shared library items and templates.

I built a content management system in PHP (Tinca) to serve intranet pages, news and events. It took me about an hour to migrate about 1500 news items out of the Drupal database and into Tinca using a script/migration module I wrote. True the article links and images are still pointing to the old site, but this can be automatically fixed at the end.

Using Dreamweaver I have created/migrated about 8 normal pages. In Tinca if I want to add a new "category" to the navigation system I just enter the details into a form and the entire site and all relevant current and future pages are automatically updated. In Dreamweaver I have to create a new library item for each navigation menu and then insert that library item into each relevant page (we are using a single template for the site). If I make a change to the menu, say add a new page, every page with that menu has to be checked out and updated by Dreamweaver.

Moving pages to different categories is easy in Tinca, just select a new category from the drop-down menu. Renaming it means giving it a new title in the form. The menus are automatically updated and the links themselves don't change. In Dreamweaver it means dragging the page across to the new location and updating the menu library items by hand, letting Dreameaver recalculate the links – a slow process.

The main perceived advantage with the Dreamweaver system is that the author can, if they like, have full design control over the page. Generally that's a bad thing. It's more ignorance that drives this solution. I miss the control I have over the entire system by being able to tweak the code of Tinca. If I don't like the way Dreamweaver is acting then I am probably stuck.

I designed an elegant and faster system that was designed for our real users. To see us going the wrong way is frustrating in the extreme.

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