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Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 with PHP: Why PHP and Why Dreamweaver CS5?

Article Description

David Powers explains how Dreamweaver has become a powerful development environment for PHP without losing any of its visual development features.

Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.

What You Will Learn

In this lesson, you will:

  • See how PHP builds web pages dynamically and communicates with a database
  • Explore the greatly improved PHP features in Dreamweaver CS5
  • See how to change Dreamweaver’s default settings
  • See how Live View can display pages from a PHP content management system, such as WordPress
  • Understand how to access and filter dynamically related pages

Approximate Time

This lesson should take approximately 1 hour to complete.

Lesson Files

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Starting Files:


Completed Files:


“If you had one extra day in your week to learn a new technology, what would you choose?” That’s one of the questions the Adobe Dreamweaver product team asked users before starting work on Dreamweaver CS5. An overwhelming majority answered, “PHP or a PHP framework.” It’s a message the team took on board, which resulted in a version of Dreamweaver that turns it into a powerful development environment for PHP without losing any of its visual development features. Dreamweaver CS5 is a program that gives programmers and designers plenty to smile about. For designers, probably the most welcome change is the ability to see a WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla! site in Live View.

Figure 1 Dreamweaver CS5 can now display WordPress and other popular CMSs directly in Live View.

A Rich Mix of PHP Features

For programmers, many new features can be put at the top of the list: vastly improved PHP code hinting, automatic detection of dynamically related files, autocompletion of variables, and so on. But the feature that will appeal to beginners and experienced programmers alike is automatic syntax checking. Dreamweaver CS5 constantly monitors your PHP code and highlights any line in which there is a mistake.

One thing that hasn’t changed—and this will come as a disappointment to some existing users—is the range or functionality of PHP server behaviors. A server behavior is a Dreamweaver tool that automatically generates PHP code for such things as inserting, updating, and deleting records in a database. Many people like server behaviors because everything is done through dialog boxes without the need to touch a line of code. Server behaviors are great for rapid prototyping or taking your first steps with PHP, but they take you only so far. You soon discover that you need to customize them to do anything beyond the most basic tasks—and you can’t do that unless you understand the code. This book covers the main server behaviors, but also takes you further to make full use of the new PHP features in Dreamweaver CS5. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll end up typing endless amounts of PHP code.

Dreamweaver CS5 allows you to take advantage of a much wider range of resources coded by some of the most experienced people in the business. You’ll learn how to work with one of the most popular PHP-driven content management systems (CMS), WordPress. You’ll also learn how to upload files, send emails with attachments, and interact with a database using a selection of components from the Zend Framework. The framework is designed in such a way that you can cherry pick, making it easy to add sophisticated functionality to a website without needing to become an expert programmer beforehand.

You don’t need previous PHP experience to use this book—although you’ll be able to progress more rapidly or jump to lessons that interest you if you do. Everything is explained along the way, along with details of where to get more information. The only prerequisite is that you be familiar with building websites using HTML and CSS. Preferably, you should also be familiar with the Dreamweaver user interface.

Before embarking on the journey ahead, let’s take a quick look at PHP and what it’s for, and then take a brief tour of the features in Dreamweaver CS5 that make it such a good development environment for PHP-driven websites.

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