Chapter 7. The Elements of the Dynamic Page

Until a few years ago, the Dreamweaver world was a relatively peaceful place. Developers happily went about the business of designing static pages, and when the conversation turned to dynamic data, they could shrug it off. "That's geek stuff," they'd say as they contentedly built static sites for their clients.

The first trembler in the peaceable kingdom was the release of Dreamweaver UltraDev. To the average developer, "Ultradev" was an interesting word he or she had heard in passing. It sounded interesting because it was Dreamweaver with a set of tools and options for connecting to databases and for working with ColdFusion and other server technologies. Still "geek stuff," but it was getting awfully close.

Dreamweaver MX took that community, turned it inside out, and rearranged its molecules. UltraDev's functionality was now an integral feature of the application. In fact, everybody now had access to the "geek stuff." To make matters worse, Macromedia was subtly letting the residents of the Dreamweaver world know that, to make it in the web development business, "You either got dynamic or you got dead."

Building a dynamic page, as you have discovered, involves a lot of paper-based planning. This chapter starts those paper-based plans on the road to fulfillment. Still, the first few tasks undertaken don't fall into the realm of "cool."

We take you through the process of defining a local and remote site. This is the first step in the creation process, and we show you a couple of features in this latest release of Dreamweaver MX 2004 that make the process rather simple. We also look at creating templates, which are the foundation of the site. You will also get the chance to review the way a template is constructed to accommodate dynamic data.

With the site defined, you can now turn your attention to how the pages will look. This leads to a discussion of templates and how they are created in Dreamweaver and a look at a new table building tool introduced in this version of Dreamweaver.

We finish off the chapter with a review of one of the more robust features of this new Dreamweaver release?an exciting revamp of the way Dreamweaver creates and manages Cascading Style Sheets. Again, we give you the opportunity to create a CSS sheet for the Oakbridge site that explores many of the new CSS features of the application.

Though this stage may not have a "cool" or a "wow" factor associated with it, mistakes made at this stage of the process will be very expensive to fix.