Dreamweaver CS6 Review – Is it time do ditch Notepad++?


I’m the kind of Notepad guy. Back in 2005 the only tools I had to help me learning HTML and CSS were Notepad (yeah, that simple notepad, from Windows) and Firefox (no I didn’t know about firebug back then, my debugging process was kind of awful). So, when I was introduced to Dreamweaver MX 2003 I just got amazed.

Code coloring and auto closing tags were luxuries that I just wasn’t used to. And at first my overall performance increased a lot. But as the years were passing by I noticed that I wasn’t that into it anymore. The software was just getting bigger and bigger, but the tools were still the same. Then around 2008 I completely stopped using it to start using the fastest editor I’ve ever seen, Notepad++.

Since then I heard a lot of opinions on new editors out there but I just kept using the same ol’ editor, even though my development process includes a lot of other Adobe products.

So, after testing the amazing new features of Photoshop CS6, I was wondering if Dreamweaver CS6 has made same great improvement and I gave it a try during the 30 days trial (10 remaining!). We’ll see here the greatest features for an experienced coder, and how you can get the most out of it.

Old stuff that is still awesome

We have a few features that haven’t changed a lot through the years, but still worth mentioning.

Code coloring

Don’t know why, but the default code style in Dreamweaver CS6 is just awesome. And it has been like this since forever.


It’s not just the opening tags suggestions, but it has a complete auto-complete list for attributes and values, color picking, and the most awesome thing ever, the auto closing tag based on your current document structure (which will be a problem for those HTML5 guys who likes to omit closing tags when possible).

Syntax highlighting

This is something default for many editors also, but I just like the way Dreamweaver presents you the error as you type. It’s the kind of thing I was long missing on Notepad++.

Easy previews

Just save and press F12 to automatically open your current document in your browser. Not to mention the split, design and live preview that is just awesome and save you a few minutes of ALT + TAB and F5.

Setting up sites

The file browser as a panel has always been a good thing in my opinion. And I don’t know why it just doesn’t works well for “simpler” editors like Notepad++. You can install a plugin there for such functionality but in my case I just forgot about them, and kept using the windows browser.

The new reasons to love Dreamweaver CS6

Ok, probably you already knew of the old stuff on Dreamweaver, so let’s move on to the new and awesome stuff on it.

Responsive development support

And now it just got far easier to test and develop responsive websites.

Dreamweaver has a lot of cool things added for media queries and fluid design, and also has added a multiscreen preview, where you can easily check how your design will look like in different screen resolutions at once.

It’s not just about the preview, it allows you to easily add media queries with default presets and your own custom values for screen sizes so you can easily turn any site into a responsive one with a few clicks, and add new sizes if you need to.

CSS3 Transitions, and lack of HTML5

Dreamweaver has also added quite a good support to CSS transitions and a few other CSS3 properties. But if you’re willing to insert HTML5 elements you’ll be in your own, since I didn’t find any HTML5 element there.

On the other hand, for those who are used with simpler editors (like I am with Notepad++) just the CSS and media queries support will be a huge time saver.

Native apps making use of Phonegap

PhoneGap gets your HTML + JS apps and turn it into native apps for a variety of smartphones OSs. The cool thing about Dreamweaver CS6 is that it automatically sends your project to PhoneGap so you’ll get the final build ready to be downloaded to your phone or added to app stores.

Business Catalyst integrated with Dreamweaver CS6

You can set up fast websites using Adobe’s platform, the Business Catalyst.

Business Catalyst is kind of a mix of WordPress and Magento, with a lot of modules integrated directly as Dreamweaver CS6 panels. So, if you want to add a form, it’s there. If you want to add a product, just click and you’re good to go. If you want to add a dynamic navigation bar, it’s there also, just click it.

So, if your client is willing to pay $6 per month or more on this structure, that could be a good and fast option to set up stuff and even allow the client herself to control items. That could be a great option also if you aren’t too much a backend guy.

jQuery Mobile and theming

Dreamweaver CS6 has added great support to jQuery mobile and its components. The very first thing you’ll notice is the ability to create a new page ready for custom jQuery mobile there, which means that Dreamweaver CS6 will create the files for you and separate the theme files of the functionality files.

Also, you are able to edit jQuery Mobile components on the go, since you have the jQuery Mobile Swatches, which contextually shows the options for each jQuery item you have and also allow you easily changing themes, icons, positions.

Increased performance on Dreamweaver CS6

Similar to what they have done on Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6, we have a great performance improvement on Dreamweaver CS6. But, besides of the great interface performance improvements the biggest change here is the whole new way as the Dreamweaver FTP works, improving a lot the average upload and download speed.

The biggest PRO, the price

The current price is $399,00 which is not that attractive, and it gets only slightly better if you want to go to the student discount, $179,00.

But the new awesome thing from Adobe is the Creative Cloud, that allows you to access Dreamweaver CS6, Photoshop CS6, Illustrator CS6 and many other applications for a monthly rate of $49,99 or $29,99 for student version.

Many freelancers out there can pay this bill with an hour of work (or even half an hour). If you think about the productivity improvement you’ll get just with the responsive features, you’ll see that it’s far more than one hour per month, so, in my opinion, it totally worth the price since you’ll get a lot of other applications in the Creative Cloud pack that will just increase the time you are save by using all of them together.


  1. Mehmet Jun 5, 11:46 am

    can it build the php code and link to the classes, functions?

    • Nathan Rohler Jun 5, 2:42 pm

      For a real PHP IDE, check out PHPStorm. It makes Dreamweaver look like, well, Notepad. http://www.jetbrains.com/phpstorm/

      • Ravikant Upadhyay Aug 10, 4:28 pm

        We use editor because we want to code faster. But in phpstorm you will waste your 70% time in just setting up server/configuration etc. It is totally useless.

    • Dawesi Jul 25, 7:00 am

      PHP storm is ordinary for anything but PHP generaly, so you may as well use Notepad++, and other than PHP support Dreamweaver makes PHP storm look like notepad. It’s relative to what you develop in. (and most corporates – where the money is at don’t use php)

      On the other hand other frameworks such as Sencha Touch provide mechanisms like ‘direct’ for you to link in your PHP methods to the client-side, and you can code that in PHP storm if you prefer, but as for client code, phpstorm is not your ide unless you hand code everything, then why not just use notepad++

  2. Eric Jun 5, 6:44 pm

    This article is all completely true. Its worth noting that there is a huge stigma in the industry for even suggesting that you use Dreamweaver. Even with the benefits, do you want to have to explain to your developer friends why this version is OK to use? Its really not worth it. That said, it would be wise to consider using Sublime Text 2 instead of Notepad++. It is, quite literally, a renaissance in getting work done quickly and easily while looking great in the process. Don’t take my word for it. Read these following articles:

    9 Reasons Why You Must Install Sublime Text 2 (@filipminev from 1+1=1)

    Essential Sublime Text 2 Plugins and Extensions (Nettuts+)

    Sublime Text 2 Tips and Tricks (Nettuts+)

    • Adrian Jun 5, 9:48 pm

      Read our post about Sublime Text 2 https://designmodo.com/sublime-text-2/

    • Dawesi Jul 25, 7:02 am

      haha… you are so open source dude. Dreamweaver is the top selling IDE period, I know heaps of developers that use dreamweaver, purely because it’s bundled with Photoshop in CS.

      Why use notepad++ or sublime, or other editors when you have Dreamweaver – one of the best javascript IDE’s available today??

      Thanks for the advertisement.

      • Eric Jul 25, 7:18 am

        It sounds like you know “heaps” of designers.. not developers. If you used any of the programs discussed here for any length of time you’d realize that you really don’t know what you are talking about.

  3. Luis Herrero Jun 5, 10:03 pm

    I use dreamweaver to teach HTML coding at my school, but for professional and agile workflow, I rather choose Sublime Text with Codekit.

    Dreamweaver’s preview window is not so good. I prefer to check websites in the real medium: the browser!

  4. molokoloco Jun 5, 11:15 pm

    I’m in love with CTRL + U …. simply upload your file to the server… there so few editor who doing this…
    BUT want to kill the guy who implemented the automatic-double-simple-quote shipped with jQuery auto-complete. So weird and buggy
    Nb: i remember my first CD of Dreamweaver 3, shipped with computer Art magazine in 1999 ;) So fresh after Golive CyberStudio 4 in 98

  5. DMag Jun 6, 1:34 pm

    Great post thank you for sharing with us.I am very thanks for such an great articles.This type of great resources and articles are very useful.Anything that improves usability has got to be a good thing right.


  6. Fadli Saad Jun 8, 6:02 am

    Well said, Notepad++ was the one and only text editor I will ever, ever use. Dreamweaver is nice but it hog lot of resources on my humble PC..

  7. Abhishek Jun 8, 11:50 pm

    So do I! All the necessary features minus the bloat!

  8. Kevin Jun 9, 7:33 am

    Sublime Text keep being better than this.

  9. cythux Jun 10, 11:11 pm

    Sublime Text, Aptana Studio 3, Eclipse ist better and create valide code.

  10. Scott Jun 12, 5:34 am

    I still use Dreamweaver CS5.5 alot, it’s CSS code hinting is outstanding, and an incredible time saver. That said I am using Sublime more often, since it supports Sass. Dreamweaver isn’t Sass aware, which is a shame, as Sass has been popular for awhile now. Was really hoping to hear that DW CS6 would have Sass/SCSS support and Compass built in. Additionally was hoping to hear it had better version control support, suach as Git. However Sublime still doesn’t have the CSS support that Dreamweaver does. Sublime will hint only if you have already used that class or attribute in your project. Dreamweaver displays all possible options and allows you to choose. Very handy when using an obscure attribute, that isn’t often used. Dreamweavers handling of projects and files is better also.

  11. Idil Jun 13, 11:10 am

    When I first started learning HTML and CSS in 2008 I used to use Dreamweaver. I thought it was the best thing till I discovered Notepad++ in early 09 and haven’t looked back since. Hmm first time I’m hearing about ST2, will look into it. Nice article.

  12. deach Jul 11, 5:05 pm

    All this talk about ST2 made me download it and check it out…

    Wow, talk about useless everything …. menu options for selections, select a line, select a word, a bracket?!… word wrap, wrap to 70 chars or maybe 78!

    DW (even 5) poos all over ST2.

    Very simple example of this is to save a file ( there’s another 50 inefficiency and a 100 useless options).
    SO Try this is ST2:
    Ctrn N
    Ctrn S
    type ‘bbb’
    arrow down to select a file type … lets go with ASP.
    Files is saved

    … open it.

    • Eric Jul 11, 5:18 pm

      This comment made no sense. I think this might be the first time I have ever heard someone say, “Please dumb this program down for me. I want less options.”

      I think that was the jist of the statement, anyway.

      • deach Jul 11, 6:23 pm

        Did you save the file?
        No, you typed a name for the file and selected an extension and it saved but without an extension.

        And your right I want less options… developing code is not selecting if the font size 12 , 13, 14 or 15 pixels.

        I want more features. I want to preview without publishing or to debug without publishing purely to save time which is what its all about.

        Anyone who uses notepad (st2) is pretty much wasting 30% of their time typing.

        • Eric Jul 11, 6:31 pm

          You didn’t spend enough time with it then. The extensions will replicate all the DW code hinting features you are talking about. You just need to play with them to find the ones right for you. In the end, you will spend FAR less time with Notepad++ and ST2. Period. If you are relying on Dreamweaver’s preview pane, you need to reevaluate your situation as a developer.

          This might be a mindblowing realization for you but did you realize you can just open a browser and experience the whole thing live each time you save? If you have two monitors, you can have Firefox open in the other window (with a debugging tool of your choice) and you can get the exact thing thing with far more reliability? If you don’t have two monitors, you can simply alt-tab and view it. Push yourself away from the preview pane. No self respecting developer would ever use that on a regular basis.

          • deach Jul 12, 1:58 am

            Sorry i didn’t look at the extra plugins. I will check them out.

            What you mentioned is how i pretty much work. But to locate something visually is much faster the scrolling through lines of code. All browsers now have inspect tools but you still have to inspect in browser and then find in editor.

            its only a few seconds but if your doing this many times a day it adds up.

            That being said, I’d love a browser dev tool that saved a local copy of your website… is that possible??

            • Eric Jul 12, 4:36 am

              Great! I used to be the same way as you. Believe me, you don’t need the pane at all. Its a crutch. Its like using the typewriter at the beginning and you are always looking at the keyboard to find the letters. If you don’t cover your hands, it takes way longer to teach yourself to be free from looking. When you reach the point where you don’t need to look anymore, your speed skyrockets!

              Its basically the same concept here. Using a text-only editor will make you a better programmer. Force yourself to really look at the code you are pounding out and you will correct many of the errors you were going back and forth with before. Things will speed up tremendously.

              As far as locally hosted websites, things get dicey. If you are just dealing with html and javascripts, you can save everything to a local folder and just bring it up in a browser. NP! If you are working with just about anything else, you’d need to run a local server and set up your computer to assign your ip address to the domain name you are working with. That way when you type in http://www.domain.com, your local website pops up for you instead of the remote one. I use this method on occassion.. but have never found the need for personal projects.

              On personal projects, I will tend to set everything up in a sandbox folder on my hosting and I will set up ST2 to use a FTP plugin. I use the Sublime SFTP plugin. It will auto save and upload your files when you hit CTRL S, which is handy and the speed of the ftp transfer simply blows away DW’s. I have used both extensively and I can say that its like >1 sec upload compared to like 20 secs of waiting for DW to do a bunch of behind the scenes nonsense.

              Either way I use Firebug and Chrome’s built in tools to debug from a fully functional site. I find the line of code I need and then resume work. Problem solved!

              • Philosophus P.Wildebeest Nov 18, 5:49 pm

                Eric, haven’t you heard of XAMPP? Why would you need to make your computer assign its IP address to the domain name of the site you are working on?

                I use XAMPP, or I just edit directly from the server, using Notepad++ and Firebug, and Filezilla for FTPing.

                • Eric Nov 18, 6:16 pm

                  So you should know that Apache is doing what I said through the .htaccess file….

  13. Rakel Sep 19, 5:52 pm

    I use Dreamweaver only for writing the code and FTP. I realize I am only using a fraction of Dreamweaver’s features, but I’ve been using it for so long, and it makes it easy to share Sites with FTP information and locations with my other team members, so I like it. That and it comes with the Creative Suite which we already purchase.

    • Rakel Sep 19, 5:53 pm

      To be clear: I don’t use the preview pane, like, at all. Once in a blue moon. I prefer to review with firebug in Firefox.

  14. Mattynabib Oct 12, 5:07 pm

    Let’s not forget that the whole thing is CSS-based, which makes it ridiculously easy to update it to suit your own needs. Need to add syntax highlighting for SCSS and LESS? No problem!

    Oh, and if you go to Adobe before Nov. 4, you can get the Creative Cloud subscription as a student for $19.95 a month for the first year rather than $29.95. Sweet!

  15. iPollesion Feb 2, 8:30 am

    Back in the day, years back when I first learned HTML, I used to use Dreamweaver it helped me learn a bit, but now a days, I would say I kept away from it because it would add unnecessary code and I didn’t like the outcome of my work. I think going with your brain and a good intellisense compiler is a good idea though.

    I typically stick with EmEditor for basic changes, I’ll use a real IDE depending on the scope of a project and how fast I can get it done.

    Reading these comments, I can assume it’s safe to say that I will not be using Dreamweaver yet, hopefully the next release is better.

  16. JDonner Feb 9, 6:41 am

    What a nonsense….as if one tool makes you a better coder than the other…sigh

    • EWilson Jul 3, 12:10 am

      Our thinking is shaped by the tools we use. Dreamweaver is to a programmers IDE what the colorful playschool workbench is to real tools. You are going to be severely disadvantaged working on any complex projects without decent version control, refactoring tools and robust debugging tools.

      I used Dreamweaver for close to 10 years and PHP Storm for 1 year. I am still far more comfortable in Dreamweaver but the benefits of sacrificing that comfort level and using PHP Storm are clear to me.

      Intellisense/Autocomplete – Dreamweaver has decent code hinting but PHP Storm does all that Dreamweaver does as well as including your own functions (even better if you maintain doc blocks), it will also autocomplete your css classes for you.

      Version Control – Is Dreamweaver still only supporting SVN and still hardcoding what version of SVN it supports? GIT is clearly the industry standard for the foreseeable future.

      Workflow/Deployment – Dreamweaver supports test and production servers but PHP Storm supports more than that, you could have development, test, staging and production servers or even more if you wanted. PHP Storm also has built in support for vagrant.

      Projects instead of sites – Dreamweaver wants to manage an entire site, if I have a huge site I don’t want to do this. PHP Storm not only takes a project approach but with externals you can include other projects (like common config or settings) into your project so that the the intellisense knows to pick up your custom functions and css from there too.

      Refactoring support – Dreamweaver basically just has search and replace. I will say it has a very good search and replace but it still isn’t near as powerful as the refactoring tools in PHP Storm.

      Debugging – Dreamweaver basically just gives you a php lint check, PHP Storm has that plus integration with xDebug and more.

      Design View – Supporting multiple browsers is enough having to support some half backed sudo browser as well isn’t worth it. Also, as soon as you start doing anything beyond the most basic includes the design view is completely broken, last I checked live view didn’t work well at all if you needed to log in to the page first. Good riddance you should be using firefox/firebug and chrome/chrome dev tools to inspect your page anyway.

      Difficulty to set up – Yes PHP Storm is overwhelming but to start you can ignore 90% of it and just focus on the Deployment, Directories, Appearance and Editor sections of the settings menu. You can even download a Dreamweaver theme for PHP Storm so your code is colored in a familiar way. It isn’t like you need to configure the entire IDE for each new project, you just do it once, you can even export and import your settings to another install of the IDE.

      In addition to the above PHP Storm has Composer, Drupal, Twitter Bootstrap and Google App Engine support.

      • EWilson Jul 3, 12:14 am

        I would also like to add that PHP Storm runs on Linux, Windows and Mac. I use Windows at work and Linux at home it is very nice to have the same IDE wherever I go.

  17. Boki_ Mar 9, 6:56 pm

    I use dreamweaver CS6, because of bundled with Photoshop, Illustrator and Fireworks, also I like the Bridge..

    Btw, you can easily add support for SASS (SCSS) and LESS to your dreamweaver, just google it ,)

  18. Boki_ Mar 9, 6:59 pm

    P.S.: What I miss is maybe a GIT integration, everything else works like a charm to me, you only need to properly configure properties to fit your needs…

  19. Susan Escobar May 23, 6:24 am

    It amuses me that so many people are so arrogantly snippy when it comes to insulting Dreamweaver. Making things simpler does not make it a bad tool – that concept makes no sense. I am a scripter – I do much of my coding by hand. I have had the opportunity to use many IDEs out there, and if I so chose, I could write a whole site, including HTML, CSS, jscript and php in plain old text pad. I am just way more efficient with Dreamweaver – even if I occasionally have to tweak or clean the code a bit. Dreamweaver does not make knowing how to code unnecessary – and those that can’t code will be very limited. But, the code hints are great, the jquery integration is wonderful.
    Those of you with so much attitude just need to get over yourselves.

  20. lima_fil Jul 31, 4:12 am

    I started with DW, then Notepad++ was quite enough. But when I switched to Ubuntu I was surprised that Notepad was only for Win. Now my choice is Sublime.
    But I still use DW when starting some project from scratch (no frameworks), and Notepad is still my default editor in Filezilla.
    Why do you have to stick with one editor?

    I think it depend how experienced you are. The more you progress, the less you have to worry about software.

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