Learn HTML and CSS before using Dreamweaver

Over the years, I’ve taught literally thousands of students in HTML, CSS and Dreamweaver clases and I have always felt that students should first learn to “hard code” web pages before learning to use a tool like Dreamweaver. But the reason has changed.

The early versions of Dreamweaver couldn’t do everything you could do yourself in HTML and CSS code. You needed to know how to tweak the code to get things done.

That’s not really the case anymore. In Dreamweaver CS4 and the soon-to-be-released Dreamweaver CS5, you can pretty much do everything you need to do in Design view without ever touching the code. However, in these newer releases of Dreamweaver you are forced to use CSS from the beginning and this overwhelms most students who have no prior knowledge of web design.

Dreamweaver is more complicated if you don’t have a good understanding of HTML and CSS and learning all three at once is challenging. Many students I have taught over the years who started with a Dreamweaver class ended up “dropping back” to take the HTML class to have a better understanding of how web pages are constructed. Having an understanding of CSS is essential with Dreamweaver because the layout & all formatting are controlled with CSS.

So before learning Dreamweaver, I strongly recommend that, at a minimum, you:

  1. Understand how web pages are constructed.
  2. Know what HTML tags look like and do.
  3. Understand the role of CSS and know how to construct a simple rule.

We do cover all of these concepts in our Introduction to Dreamweaver class; however, you’ll have a great head start if you come into the class with some hands-on experience already.

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