Book: Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 with PHP: Training from the Source
Publisher: Adobe Press
My first encounter with PHP came about 10 years ago. By that time, I already had plenty of
experience developing websites. I had started out writing HTML in a text editor before settling
on Dreamweaver as my favorite authoring tool. A new project involved publishing more than
30 articles a day. It was a subscription service, so the site needed to be password-protected and
searchable. An ordinary website wouldn’t do. That’s when PHP came to the rescue.
PHP makes communication with a database a breeze, so content can be stored in the database,
making it searchable. Instead of creating a new page for every article, pages are populated
dynamically with the requested items. You can also password-protect the administrative or
members-only area of a site. PHP does a lot more: It can send email, upload files, and attach files
to emails—all of which you’ll learn how to do in this book. PHP is also the driving force behind
the three most popular content management systems: Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress.
So, where does Dreamweaver come into the picture? Dreamweaver has supported PHP to some
degree since 2002, mainly through server behaviors, which automatically generate PHP code
for some basic tasks. But the level of support has taken a quantum leap forward in Dreamweaver
CS5. The server behaviors are still there (see Lesson 6), but they take a back seat.
The big changes lie in code hinting, embedded PHP documentation (including examples),
autocompletion of variables, automatic discovery of dynamically related files, and—perhaps
best of all—the ability to view and navigate through PHP pages without leaving the
Document window. As a result, it’s now possible to style WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal in
Dreamweaver CS5 without the need to generate static pages. These changes are described in
detail in Lesson 1, but in a nutshell they should appeal to designers and developers alike.
PHP’s popularity springs from being easy to learn. You can achieve practical results very
quickly. Of course, like any skill, becoming an expert takes time and practice. The new PHP
features in Dreamweaver CS5 not only help the learning process, but you’ll find them even
more useful as you gain experience. Dreamweaver is my preferred choice for designing the look
of a website and organizing files, but I was beginning to use dedicated PHP authoring tools for
the dynamic aspects of development. Dreamweaver CS5 has changed all that. I now have the
best of both worlds in the same program.