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Dreamweaver MX: Is It Worth the Upgrade?

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Weigh the new features of Dreamweaver MX against its cost and see if the "MX" is worth the money from a web designer's perspective.
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If you read any of my previous articles (such as the Best for Web Designers series), you probably noticed that I am a big fan of the Macromedia web design series, which includes Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash (along with various other products—for the whole product line, have a look at Macromedia.com). Macromedia released an upgrade for all of these programs, in essence transforming its whole production line into one series of design software: Macromedia MX.

In this article, I review the upgraded version of Dreamweaver, and try to help you decide whether the upgrade to "MX" is really worth it. (As you probably know, although Macromedia software is extremely competitive and of the highest quality in the business, it does not come cheap.)

In the second article, I review the new versions of Fireworks and Flash. I also have a look at how these programs can communicate and share files and information with each other to facilitate the Web design process.

I waited quite a while before writing these articles because I wanted to actually use these programs myself before coming to any conclusions. Several people have asked for my opinion on this "new" product line, so I wrote these articles to give you my point of view on the quality and implementation of these updated programs.

I would like to point out that I will be discussing these programs purely as upgrades to the previous versions. These are not complete reviews of the products. If you would like to learn more about the programs themselves, I recommend that you have a look at my previous articles.

I hope you enjoy this article—as always, feel free to e-mail me questions and comments!

The Story Behind the MX Family

The MX series was released back in June 2002 and was the first full product family to be released after Macromedia's merger with software producer Allaire in 2001. (Allaire had another rather popular design program called Allaire HomeSite, which was later renamed to Macromedia HomeSite and is focused more on HTML coding "by hand," as opposed to Fireworks' WYSIWYG interface. HomeSite is now included with Dreamweaver MX.)

The MX series is supposed to integrate Web-development tools and server technologies. ColdFusion MX is a tool used to develop Internet applications. Although this review will not include ColdFusion, I will refer to it occasionally because the whole idea of integrating tools and server technologies seems to be the main focus of the MX series. (For more information on ColdFusion MX, click here.)

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