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Archive for the "Web Development" Category

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Creating Cascading Style Sheets With Adobe Dreamweaver

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Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a W3C standard mark-up language for defining the appearance of web pages. The use of CSS allows developers to fully separate the content of the page from its presentation, speeding up the development process and also making the pages load more quickly in the browser. Whereas 20th century websites typically used tables to construct web pages and position elements, CSS now provides a cleaner and more efficient way of controlling all aspects of web page layout.

Adobe Dreamweaver has long had support for the use of CSS and has responded to the growing importance of this pivotal technology. Dreamweaver's implementation of CSS is all the more important since many of the people using the program are not specialist web developers and rely on Dreamweaver to guide them through the maze of technologies which drive web pages.

Previous versions of Dreamweaver assumed that most users would be using tables to control the layout of their web pages. Dreamweaver CS3 is the first version of the program which encourages users to create CSS-based web page layouts. When the users create a new web page, they are offered a series of CSS layouts, on which they can base the new page, consisting of single, double and three column designs.

CSS page layout is based in the DIV element, an HTML container which can be used to hold an arbitrary amount of web content. The CSS rules control the appearance and positioning of DIVs on the page. Dreamweaver CS3's preset CSS layouts create a series of DIVs containing placeholder text and basic formatting. The placeholder text, as well as the code underlying the page, both contain useful explanations of how the page has been constructed and a few tips on how to personalise them.

CSS works most efficiently when you can place all of your CSS code in one external file and link that file to each of your HTML pages. Dreamweaver CS3 still does not make it easy for inexperienced users to create CSS-based pages in this way. If the user creates ten web pages based on Dreamweaver's preset CSS designs, each will have its own code embedded within the page itself. There is, however, a great feature for moving embedded code across to an external CSS file. You just select a series of CSS definitions, right-click and choose "Move CSS Rules" which is available in the "CSS Styles" section of the context menu.

This ability to move blocks of CSS is an excellent feature but one has to ask if new users will see its significance and actually use it. The fact is that, given the increasing importance of CSS and Dreamweaver's role as the fledgling developers best friend, the program could use some improvement in the way it handles CSS.

It is also disappointing that Dreamweaver still automatically generates CSS styles called "style1", etc. each time the user applies a font or colour to selected text. Surely it would be easier to simply remove these basic attributes and just let the user either apply a style to the selection or, if no styles exist, create a new one. Perhaps this will be introduced in the next release of this excellent program.

To learn more about Dreamweaver training courses, visit Macresource Computer Training, a UK IT training company offering Dreamweaver Classes in London and throughout the UK.

An App or a .Mobi site? Which is Better for your Company?

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Mobile apps are almost as important as mobile sites these days, and if you have to choose between the two, you may have a bit of a rough time deciding which direction will best support the needs of your company. The idea of both is certainly an appealing one, but if you must go one way or the other, which might give you the level of visibility in the world of mobile technology? The final choice depends extensively on both your goals and your budget.

The first step in the process is to look at your target audience. If you're trying to reach a relatively large group of people, working on your mobile site is probably the best use of your money. Mobile apps can be great for a number of reasons, but they only work on the device for which they've been created. So, if you design an iPhone app, it will only work on the iPhone. It won't work for your customers who are carrying Blackberry devices or an Android phone, and that can leave out huge numbers of your target market in a hurry. Even if you design mobile apps for each of the major platforms, which necessarily involves quite a bit more cash at the outset, you may still be leaving part of your market in the dust. If, however, your strategy is centered around your mobile site, any device can access it. From iPad users to the simplest prepaid cell phone, these days, mobile access is everywhere, and they're all looking for a level of functionality the web just doesn't have.

After you've thought a bit about your target market, it's time to start thinking about your goals in this process. This is a key factor, because considering the end user makes a huge difference in the way you want to go. Apps are so popular because of the number of things they can do. They work within the mobile device they're designed for, giving a smooth experience to any user, and they don't have to be connected to the internet to offer that experience. As a result, if you're looking to offer an unique utility to your users, apps are certainly the way to go. Sites, however, are ideal for shopping or content needs. What's more, however, is that sites are far better for SEO than apps are. After all, apps tend to be housed in a centralized location like an app store while content can simply be picked up by search engines. Many analysts suspect that as use of the mobile web dramatically increases, so too will functionality, so the idea of apps may be obsolete in a few years anyway.

Your final step in this process must be cost consideration. The bottom line is that sites are cheaper to develop. You can work from a number of different free platforms, and getting a designer to help is reasonably inexpensive. When you're talking about apps, however, you're going to need help from a programmer, and that can get expensive fast. Don't forget that you need one app for each mobile device you're considering. Mobile sites, as we talked about before, can reach any WiFi or Bluetooth device. What's more, however, is that you have to think about update costs. If a mobile device updates their platform, the apps have to be updated as well. This just isn't true with mobile websites. You can either update the site yourself or leave it as is because mobile browsers will still be able to find it.

The key in making your final decision is to come up with what's going to work best for your company. While a good starting place is probably the mobile website, there's little reason that as you grow, you can't begin thinking on the mobile apps front as well, reaching both markets at the same time.

Moonrise Productions is a web design company specializing in both custom web development and design. Whether you need social network web design or web application development, contact us and we'll get it done right!

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