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Web Design Neophyte


derNister
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Hello,

 

I'm wanting to design and create a commerce site for a small number of products having to do with musical instrument components. I've been reading about Dreamweaver CS3 and like it in that it simplifies coding and has templates that allow for flexibility in order that I may get up to speed on my time, but still create something decent. I hope to learn to code in php or javascript soon to allow for more interactivity and will probably plug in a 3rd party shopping cart utility.

 

Since Adobe no longer offers the 30 day trial for CS3, I downloaded CS4 and have been playing with it while going through the book, 'Web Sites - Do-it-Yourself for Dummies'. My questions are:

 

1. Will Photoshop Elements 5 work with CS4? If not, what pared-down, Elements-like graphics program would you recommend? I don't believe I'll need any full-blown, graphics program.

 

2. Do you recommend against finding a CS3 version at this point?

 

3. If I want to code in Javascript, php or one of the other supported languages, does Dreamweaver come with compilers (is this now an anachronism?) or does it only support the running of objects created through another utility? In other words, will I have to buy something else?

 

4. What about a database to store customer contact, product data, etc.? Is this included or is this something to seek in a hosting company and what does DW require?

 

My background is 20+ years in software development - but the old back office, green screen stuff; RPG on the AS/400 and not for 3+ years. Web coding is quite new to me other than having developed programs to supply data to a site or process data from.

 

I appreciate any help you provide,

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1 - Photoshop Elements should work if you aren't doing anything fancy.

 

2 - It's up to you... I haven't found any major reason to upgrade from CS3 to CS4, but I have heard that Dreamweaver has improved in CS4, especially the design view (it shows the site more accurately). However, if you want to save money, CS3 should be fine.

 

3 - If you want to work with PHP or ASP.net, you'll need a separate package. However, both are free. The easiest way to install PHP and get set up is using WAMP (check one of the stickies in the PHP forum for more info on that). I don't personally work with ASP.net much, but I believe it has it's own free installer from the Microsoft site. You shouldn't need to buy anything else.

 

4 - If you install WAMP or the ASP.net package, it will install the correct database stuff for you. WAMP comes with MySQL, and the Microsoft package should come with SQLExpress (or it will be something you can download for free) However, you will need to have a hosting company that supports the type of database you are using.

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I should also point out a couple things...

 

1 - You really don't need Dreamweaver. You can do this with something as simple as Notepad... a basic text editor will do. Dreamweaver can make some of it easier... It just depends on what tools you prefer to use. Personally, I don't use Dreamweaver -- I use a text editor.

 

2 - Get a handle on basic HTML and CSS before you jump into PHP and the ecommerce side of things... it'll make things easier in the long run.

 

3 - You could use a free graphics program, such as http://www.sumopaint.com/ or GIMP http://www.gimp.org/

 

4 - If you use ASP.net, you will need Windows based hosting. If you use PHP, you can use either Linux or Windows, but most people use Linux.

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Thanks. My motivation for using DW is to generate something fairly quickly using the product's templates while I'm learning CSS & HTML. I think it would likely take much longer to begin without the inherent guidance of a product like DW.

 

Am I off base?

 

I will definitely check out the graphics utilities you recommended.

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Hey! I work on an AS/400 every day! :D

 

1 - Software integration is nifty, best case there then is Fireworks as it is the same company and it was built for web work. That said, you can use GIMP if you want. There is no requirement for integration between editor and image program. It makes things easier in theory, but only marginally. Get a free one or what you can afford... or just use what you have.

 

2 - New versions just bring new Bells and Whistles, it is not important to have the latest greatest, just helps, but you would not want to use a few versions earlier... but one version will have less effect.

 

3 - If you want to program you will need a test server, IIS or Apache like mentioned above using Wamp. Javascript runs in the browser. TYou can do allot od stuff in Dreamweaver, but for programming I prefer programming editors, Eclipse is a good one and free. But there are specialized editors depending on what language you choose. See: Alternative Editors for Web Development

 

4 - DW requires nothing, it is just a tool. Most common is MySQL, SQL is fine and Qracle is fine. It depends on what your host offeres.

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I think you always need to learn to code by hand, on simple cheap editors. Leave DW for later to speed things up. YOU are the designer, YOU need to know what you want and how to do it right. YOU need to understand the languages... then just use a tool like DW to speed the process. Use DW to soon and it handicaps your thinking and makes you lazy and you take for granted the things it does and fail to understand them.

 

Web development is all about the designer and not the tool. It is the experienced construction worker who makes a good house, not the hammer he chooses.

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