What’s wrong with Dreamweaver’s Server Behaviors?

Before I get into it, let’s quickly cover some basics …

1 – What are Dreamweaver Server Behaviors?

In a nutshell: Dreamweaver Server Behaviors are point-and-click tools that will write out the server-side code (PHP, ASP, ColdFusion) that will allow to do things like:

  • Display and update records from a database.
  • Create password protected pages.
  • Process HTML forms.

Beyond the basic tools that come built into Dreamweaver CS3, there are lots of 3rd party plug-ins that extend its’ power where you can do all kinds of things that you would expect programmers to take care of.

For example, Adobe themselves have something called ‘Adobe Dreamweaver Developer Toolbox’ – often simply referred to as ‘ADDT’. From their site:

Adobe® Dreamweaver® Developer Toolbox is a set of Dreamweaver server behaviors and commands for creating dynamic web applications using PHP, Adobe ColdFusion®, and ASP VBScript server scripting technologies. This Dreamweaver extension helps web developers create membership-based websites, portals, blogs, and image galleries, as well as content management systems, CRM back-ends, and other web-based solutions without requiring advanced programming knowledge.

Sounds great, except in real life … it ain’t so sweet. So much so in fact (the rumor has it) that ADDT will be discontinued.

Let’s get to the point:

Dreamweaver’s Server Behaviors are NOT a replacement for good old fashioned programming ability – not even close. You should only use Server Behaviors to:

  • Create very simple database driven pages.
  • To prototype a web application.

2- What’s wrong with Dreamweaver’s Server Behaviors?

Basically, the code that Dreamweaver generates, is organized/disorganized in a brittle way – it is easily broken when you make even minor changes.

I don’t want to get into the nerd-details, but what I can tell you is that if you do anything beyond the very simple, you will end up breaking your code along the way.

… Most of time, you will end up having to rewrite the code by hand anyway … loosing any time savings you might have gained using the server behaviors.

What can a web designer do?

So what’s the solution for web designers who need to build dynamic web sites beyond the limitations of Dreamweaver Server Behaviors? Simple, learn to program!

… It reall isn’t that hard if you can find good tutorials or better yet, good video tutorials on server side programming.

Thanks for reading.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 at 12:49 am and is filed under Dreamweaver, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

13 Responses to “What’s wrong with Dreamweaver’s Server Behaviors?”

  1. Mark says:

    This article doesn’t even come close to making a point. 1) Dreamweaver’s ADDT code isn’t more brittle than regular Dreamweaver code. In fact, ADDT has a debug level which allows you to trace where errors are occurring. And since all of the code is there, you can change it yourself. Anyone who does their own PHP will easily generate more errors like ‘headers already sent’ on their own than they will using ADDT. 2) You don’t want to get into nerd details because you don’t have any. 3) The product being discontinued is hardly a sign of its demise. It will be 2009 by the time CS4 is released. The chances DW will not allow you to post a form and update a db are non-existent. I’ve worked with alot of developers over the years and I try and do anything I can to avoid having to deal with someone’s homegrown code. This article reminds me of some C# developers I work with who said they cannot use .Net Libraries because they write their own–I’m sure they can improve on Microsoft libraries. But is it really necessary? Afer using PEAR, SOLARPHP, CAKE, and ADDT, I have to say that ADDT is a great choice for many uses, but not perfect for all of them. I have absolutely no hesitation or fear of SQL-injectors from using ADDT for many sites, even ones that get traffic. Honestly, its one of the best tools out there. It would be adopted by more people, but people cling to outmoded ideas. The logic of this article simply makes no sense and has some very small boundaries-I’m sure you don’t rewrite sendmail when you want to send a message or write your own shell script when you want to ping a server. Try using ADDT and then writing an article about it and show some specific limitations of the tool.

  2. Hi Mark,

    I was not talking about ADDT, I was talking about the Dreamweaver’s built in server behaviors.

    I’ve used the server behaviors but not ADDT, so I have no comment except to say that I hear that ADDT is being discontinued.

    “You don’t want to get into nerd details because you don’t have any. ”

    I do have nerd details with regards to the built in server behaviors … and I am about to release a few videos on the subject. Again with ADDT, I have none.

    You may also find that CS4 will be out sooner than you think.


  3. Bobby says:

    I agree with Mark. I’ve used ADDT for years, back when the company was Interakt in Romania. I use it similarly to a .NET library. It hasn’t worked within Dreamweaver for me in about 6 mo’s. I just hand code adaptations from the code. There is no way that a developer, in a timely fashion, could write the kind of code that is in the includes folder from the guys in Interakt. It would take a few years of trial and error. These guys have developed routines that are accessed for many common application scenarios. The guys that created this code devoted several years of their time to get it to the place that it was when it arrived at Adobe, and Adobe sadly dropped the ball, just like they did with Dreamweaver.

    I can’t imagine hand coding an application on the same scope and level as what “ADDT” does for me in a few minutes. I’ve had really good coders work with me and fail to ramp up with their “hand code”. The new thought that’s predominant and driving web services is “why re-code something that’s already done very nicely?” Stefan – I have to disagree with you also on this.

  4. Bobby,

    I said in the previous comment, I was not commenting on ADDT because I never used it.

  5. Alfonso Florio says:

    That’s a commonplace of many programmers, unfortunately.
    They forgot what is praticity in name of some sort of strange ethics.
    I’ve suggested loads of times for example using pre-built components but NO, they have to write their own. And then they fall down into a spiral of buggy code 😉 because using an MCV won’t save you from buggy code.
    I work in an environment that requires RESULTS, and quickly.
    In your article you were referring generically to any external server behaviour you can buy.
    I could make you a very long list of stuff that works.
    And your worry about “touching the code” is just because you never used them. You can mix safely server behaviours and code.

    Enjoy your textedit!

  6. Hi,

    “I’ve suggested loads of times for example using pre-built components but NO, they have to write their own. ”

    I agree, that makes no sense. You should reuse proven code before you start building from scratch.

    Textedit is one extreme end of the spectrum and point-and-click Dreamweaver like tools is another.

    I try to find the happy medium.

    That said, I still think Dreamweaver server behaviors can be used for prototyping and small projects that are one-off type things.

    Thanks for posting.


  7. Victor Teixeira says:

    Hi, I’m a webdesigner and developer from Brazil and I just want to say that I use the old MX Kollection (now ADDT) and I just can’t live without it.
    This great extension saved my life. I have developed tons of CMSs and small systems using it and it’s perfect. You are not limited to the stuff included on the library. You can use your own classes and functions to extend your apps if you need. It’s up to you.

    I have developed complicated CMS systems in less than one week with it. If I had to code everything by hend it would take an entire year.

    I think adobe could transform dreamweaver into a complete visual developement environment. They should integrate ADDT into dreamweaver and develop it further. If they discontinue it, they will be going to the wrong direction.

    It’s everything that people needs: a viual development environment for PHP – it doesn’t exists yet and we are almost in 2010, can you belive?
    OK, I know Delphi for php, but it’s not the right way to do web development. With dreamweaver and ADDT you control your hmtl, CSS and javascript so you just insert some php data where you want – you are in control.

    That’s what I think.

    PS: I think adobe should just altered the code generated by the layout view of dreamweaver to CSS instead of tables. It wold be a nice layout builder for CSS.

  8. JJ says:

    Anybody still watching this thread? I still use MX Kollection, too — and DW 8. Once I realized that the new versions of DW wouldn’t use my extensions, I made the decision not to upgrade anymore, which was a sad sad day, as I have faithfully used nearly every version of this product ever, from its inception back in what, ’97, was it? In the beginning there were no server behaviors, that functionality was in a separate version of the product. I have always upgraded before, but when Adobe bought Macromedia, I already knew that the product would go to crap, but then, THEN, when they bought Interakt and all operations ceased, I just about DIED.

    We need to rise up and convince Adobe to put the whole ADDT thing up for open-source!!!! Including the old KTML4 editor, which I still use.

    In fact, I still use ALL of my Interakt products, happily, every chance I can, because as mentioned, it takes years to build up a collection of functionality like that.

  9. I understand the frustration. But I can tell you that CS4 has some really nice features and it just … flows well.


  10. tosin says:

    As i am typing, I’m crying. ADDT gave me hope to be a web developer.It still ranks the best because i have bought virtually all the extensions that are on the internet. I hope adobe changes the decision.

  11. Mary Tsolak says:

    I am trying to build a website with an area only for my customers. My web hosting site says that it does not support asp and cold fusion. php is fine. I need to find out what code DW server behaviors write. Or if I can specify just php. I am really against any languages like asp that works only on Microsoft servers.

  12. Hi,

    Dreamweaver behaviors do support PHP. You just have to select PHP as your server model – this is an option that you set in Dreamweaver.

    That said, the behaviors are kind of fragile and beyond simple stuff, you are much better off learning basic php yourself .. it isn’t that hard. Check it out:


    I was a beta tester on Dreamweaver CS4 and even Adobe said that they will be revamping the behaviors part in the next release.


  13. Raimonds says:

    Hi guys,
    intresting to read,
    I say that hand writting is the best way. once you are used to use code you just write it. Like I’m writing now.

    Everybidy has his own way to work.