Is it time to reconsider Dreamweaver?

Jani Tarvainen
Jan 13, 2016 · 3 min read

Every once in a while old people like me talk about making some websites with Dreamweaver.

The tool was originally released in 1997 and allowed WYSIWYG web editing and developing complex web applications for the client side. All of this with little to no understanding of JavaScript, CSS or HTML.

Dreamweaver was packed with features and even had an internal templating system which allowed it to be used essentially as a static site generator. In the early 2000’s the web standards movement hit the web and Dreamweaver’s table and absolute-positioned markup fell out of fashion.

Dreamweaver evolved towards being an efficient code editor and eventually obsoleted it’s companion product, Homesite. Homesite which was considered a “pro tool” at time, focusing on viewing code and being a text editor first.

Fast forward 15 years and people are still using text editors for most of their web development tasks. There have been changes in the world of web development (Open Source, Mobile, Responsive Design, etc.) and to be honest it looks like the world could be ripe for a comeback of Dreamweaver.

See, Dreamweaver never went away and there are probably thousands of people firing it up even today. Looking at the change logs it seems rather contemporary and even comes with Bootstrap support:

Easily create responsive websites that adapt to any browser on any device, thanks to integration with the latest version of the Bootstrap framework. New visual aids help you define breakpoints for different screen dimensions and organize your code, all within Dreamweaver.

With the improvements in the web platform is handcrafting front end code in an editor largely a waste of time?

With technologies like React.js, Angular 2 and Web Components the time seems ripe for a comeback for WYSIWYG web editing for the masses. Download components within the editor and configure functionality like in 1999:

Dreamweaver event management

Many mainstream Open Source CMSes and online content repositories like Contentful now come with some sort of REST API that could be configured as a live data source for your application. You could also link to stock photo services for free watermarked placeholders, for example.

Providing an API and a way to build adapters would allow you to _really_ switch backends, instead of consolidating on a systems’ particular idea of what a REST API is. Using technologies like RAML and GraphQL can be used to standardise data access.

This modern Dreamweaver clone would obviously be built with web technologies. It could run a browser too, making development independent of the device it’s being done on. This is obviously just a return to Netscape Gold, making the browser both a creation and consumption tool.

Maybe something like this with an excellent user interface already exists? If it does; Let me know and take my money.

I’m tired of Text Editors and Command Line Interfaces. I want dragondrop, I no longer have any clue how this thing works anyhow.

P.S. In case you missed it. I don’t care if the new WYSIWYG is a Dreamweaver, that was mostly a clickbait title.

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