About This Web Site

Although I have a solid background in computer programming, it was a long time ago that I was writing and debugging code in DBL.  Back then I was programming on a DEC PDP11/44 running a multi-user multi-tasking operating system called TSX+.  I designed and coded mostly business applications for my wholesale distribution company.  I wrote basic accounting packages, billing and inventory control etc.  There was no such thing as the internet, or a graphical user interface.  Everything was strictly text oriented and there was no mouse pointing device. I had been away from programming for about 20 years when I began this web site.  Technology changes very fast, and at my age I don’t have a lot of time to devote in going back to school to learn how to build web pages.

I have wanted to develop a web site about my television restoration hobby for a long time.  That left me in a dilemma about what I should do.  Do I hire a webmaster to build a site for me? Probably not.  It would be too costly and control of content would be out of my hands.  Finally I started to inquire around to other people like myself, who had built web sites of their own about their similar hobbies. I had several criteria that needed to be met.

  1. Whatever web pages I developed needed to be independent of the web host and transferable to any other web host, without restriction.
  2. Whatever tool I used to develop my web pages needed to be WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) because I was not interested in learning how to write HTML line by line.
  3. The development tool needed to be versatile enough that I could do all of the basic web page design tasks.

So after investigation on the internet, and speaking with my associates in the TV restoration hobby, I came to the decision to use Adobe Dreamweaver.  It was not an inexpensive tool to purchase. But as everyone knows, you get what you pay for.  In order to save a bit I decided to purchase Dreamweaver CS4, which was now superseded by Dreamweaver CS5.  I compared the two versions and for less than half the price of CS5, I could buy CS4 in ebay, new in the box and never licensed with almost the same features as CS5.

I also read reviews about Dreamweaver books.  There were two that came highly recommended.  I chose Dreamweaver for Dummies.  I figured it would be a good starting place for someone that had never used Dreamweaver.  The book gave me a good start.  And as I progressed in my understanding of how Dreamweaver worked, I used the book more as a reference tool, through the use of it's extensive index in the back of the book.

Lest you get any ideas that Dreamweaver is easy for a noob, let me forewarn you in advance that the learning curve on Dreamweaver is very steep indeed. The great part about Dreamweaver is this, in the beginning, you will be just using the design window, while viewing the code window above.  As you do something in the design window, you get to see the HTML code that is generated in the code window.  Eventually you will graduate to actually making minor fixes to the HTML code in the code view as you slowly learn to understand how the HTML code is being written by Dreamweaver.

Being the very complex program that Dreamweaver is, there is a right way and a wrong way to do most things.  If you use the correct method, Dreamweaver is very automatic.  However if you do something the wrong way IE: rename a file manually instead of using the Dreamweaver command to rename, you can mess things up in a big way and confuse Dreamweaver.  Do the same operation in the prescribed Dreamweaver method, and Dreamweaver will take care of re-linking all pages that refer to the newly renamed page.  Getting to do all things through Dreamweaver commands, takes a bit of religion, but once you get the hang of it, life with Dreamweaver is Beautiful. Adobe has thought of just about everything you could want or need to do.

Because Dreamweaver is sort of the de-facto WYSIWYG standard in web page building programs, there is a very large user base out there.  The solution to many common Dreamweaver questions are posted on many blogs throughout the internet. I have found the solution to a number of issues that I could not figure out myself, and which were not in the Dreamweaver for Dummies book.  Now that I am getting more familiar with the Dreamweaver features, I am beginning to find answers to my questions through trying different features of Dreamweaver.  I am still no more than 20% knowledgeable about how use Dreamweaver’s extensive list of features, but even at this early stage in my Dreamweaver education, I am able to build web pages that function and look the way I want.  Bottom line; Dreamweaver gets the job done for me.

If you are like me, and are willing to put in a couple of painful weeks at the beginning of the learning curve, slowly trying to make progress, I think most anybody, with a desire to build web sites, can master this program.  You will need one or more good books to help you through the beginning stages, especially if you know little to nothing about HTML.  If you are not interested in learning a very complex program, then perhaps one of the more user friendly web based, web site building programs may be better suited to your needs.

About photographs and other graphics: Dreamweaver does not come with any library of Graphics. Back in the late 90's I had been using Microsoft Front Page. It was more user friendly in some respects than Dreamweaver, and Front Page came with huge library of pre-designed web buttons, page backgrounds, and other graphics that you could use in the design of your web pages. Dreamweaver has none of that. Fortunately I still had my old copy of Front Page and I was able to pull the old Front Page Libraries of graphics, and use them with Dreamweaver. If you don't have access to some caned graphics libraries you will need to procure one somewhere.

You will also need a good photo editing program that you can use to crop, re-size and compress photographs, and build thumbnails with. There are no real photo editing features of much use in Dreamweaver. And the way photos come out of your digital camera, they are far too large to use on web pages. The large photo files out of your camera need to be compressed and resized for use before they are incorporated into a web page. Using a photo without resizing it first, would cause your pages to down load far to slowly. I am currently using an old program that I got years ago called Microsoft PhotoDraw. It has all the features that I need to compress and resize my photos for use in Dreamweaver. You could also use one of the versions of Adobe PhotoShop, but I am sure there are other less expensive digital photo editing programs that would also suit your needs.

Bottom line is that building web sites is both a creative/artistic process, and a technical programming challenge. It helps to have some interest in both of these areas if you want to build a good web site that people enjoy comming to.