If you're doing serious Web content engineering you might well choose an all-singing, all-dancing product such as Adobe's Dreamweaver. The latest version of Dreamweaver in Adobe's Creative Suite 6 (released just over a year ago) was really impressive with new features such as an improved user interface, support for jQuery UI widgets, better cascading style sheet Version 3 support and support for PhoneGap. All in all, a very cool and comprehensive Web development platform.
Alas, DW CS6, with a list price of $399 (although I've seen it online for $140), was overkill for many people and now it's not even available. In preparation for Creative Cloud, the next iteration of Creative Suite, Adobe pulled all of the CS6 products, including Dreamweaver, from its online store earlier this month, much to the intense anger of many of its users.
The problem users have with Creative Cloud is all the applications will be totally cloud-based and only available on a subscription basis. Needless to say this will not be cheaper than the CS6 version, nor will it address the needs of smaller organizations. To date almost 13,700 people have signed a petition asking Adobe to reconsider.
I predict that if Adobe doesn't change course it will lose a lot of market enthusiasm, which could end the dominance of applications such as Dreamweaver and Photoshop. In fact, a new OS X-only product, Pixelmator, looks like it could well take the shine off Photoshop, and, at $14.99 vs. Photoshop CS6's list price of $699, it may well steal away many Photoshop adherents.
Be that as it may, if you're looking for a more affordable and easier to use Web development system than Dreamweaver, I may have just the thing for you: Xara Web Designer 9.
XWD, available for Windows only, has a very clever orientation: It makes assembling Web content feel more like using a desktop publishing system than anything else. To build a page, you simply drag and drop page components (images, graphics, text and widgets) onto the page, position them, add behaviors such as mouse-over effects and how components "repel" text (this allows text to flow around, for example, an image or another block of text), and attach hyperlinks to components.
You can also place objects on layers, set objects to appear on every page of the site you create, and XWD comes with templates that you can simply drag from the template gallery onto the work area. You can even drag single pages from a different template into a website you're building and, if you want, XWD will modify the new content to match the styles you've set.
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