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29.7. DHTML Tools

Many web designers rely on WYSIWYG tools and editors for creating web pages. These tools make it possible to see the effects of creating and editing immediately. There are a number of DHTML WYSIWYG editors available today that may suit your needs for creating dynamic web pages.

Even with the relatively simple examples we've examined in this chapter, you can see that hand coding DHTML can be complicated and arduous. In addition, the differences between Navigator 4.0 and Internet Explorer 4.0 force web designers to write two additional sets of code for each function, to retain backwards-compatibility. This increases production time and creates code that is difficult to read and maintain.

There are many tools that create DHTML for you behind the scenes. Some of these tools are narrow in focus and provide specific functionality, while others, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive, are full packages with which you can create and maintain whole web sites, as well as write DHTML code.

It is beyond the scope of this book to provide working details of WYSIWIG DHTML tools. Each of these tools has their own pros and cons. Commercial tools with full DHTML support are likely to provide a more robust implementation and better support to users. However, these software packages require a larger investment of time and money. If you want only simple animations or style changes, a shareware tool may be the best way for you to go. Luckily, most web authoring tools are available for free download over the Internet on a trial basis, so you can experiment and choose the one that suits your needs. To learn about available tools, check out the resources listed at the end of this chapter.

WYSIWYG DHTML tools differ greatly in their operation. They have to allow you to view and manipulate layers, styles, scripts, and animation in a graphical way. You can create animations by dragging objects in the editor, thus eliminating the need to write JavaScript that counts pixels and tracks x,y coordinates. Dreamweaver, for instance, features built-in behaviors for rollovers, moving layers, and changing styles. You can also download extensions from Macromedia's web site, most of them created by third-party developers; these add a variety of DHTML behaviors and commands to Dreamweaver.

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