Dreamweaver CC Review

Not a Lot of Changes

Dreamweaver CC
Opening screen of Dreamweaver CC. Screen shot by J Kyrnin courtesy Adobe

Bottom Line

Adobe Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG and text editor for Windows Macintosh best suited to Professional Web Designers and Professional Web Developers. It costs $19.99 per month with a Creative Cloud membership. There is a free trial.

Dreamweaver CC is a high-end professional development and design tool. It is missing some modern features that other Adobe products have, but is still a good choice for professional designers.

Rating: 4 stars

Scores

  • For Web Designers: 84%
  • For Web Developers: 84%
  • For Small Business Owners: 78%
  • For Beginners: 82%

Pros

  • It writes decent HTML in WYSIWYG mode and it is easy to switch between code and WYSIWYG modes, and includes a split view to see both at once.
  • The Live View has been fully upgraded to use Chromium and gives a view of your pages that is much closer to what customers will see in web browsers.
  • There is a visual CSS editor that makes it easier to create and add CSS styles.

Cons

  • It doesn't include features like animation, responsive design, and code development like you can find in other Adobe tools like Edge Animate, Adobe Muse, and Edge Reflow.
  • You cannot buy a box copy of the software, it is only available by subscription through the Creative Cloud.
  • You still can’t edit in Live View.
  • Still no good support for JavaScript libraries and CSS frameworks (beyond the ones that are built-in).
  • Link checker still does not check external links.
  • Macros and custom shortcuts are still very hard to create and manage.
  • It can be very intimidating for beginners.

My Review of Adobe Dreamweaver CC

Dreamweaver has been one of my top-ranking editors for many years. It has a lot of features that many other editors don't have and considering the amount of features it has it's reasonably easy to use.

And it still gets a score to put it in the top 20% of possible scores for nearly every type of user.

But I think a lot of people are going to be somewhat disappointed with this version of Dreamweaver. Partly because it doesn't really seem all that new or different, but mostly because it's now only available by subscription to the Creative Cloud.

Dreamweaver Doesn't Seem to Be Keeping Up

I still use Dreamweaver all the time to manage dozens of sites, including sites that use Drupal and WordPress as their engines as well as straight HTML and PHP sites. But I find myself more and more using other tools to do my design work and then switching to Dreamweaver to manage the site as a whole.

Dreamweaver has all the features and more that I would expect from a modern, high-end web editor. But it feels old. I've gotten used to new interfaces that react more quickly, provide instant display of my choices, and just seem more modern. What's frustrating is that some of these new interfaces I've seen on other Adobe products.

Another frustrating aspect is that the Dreamweaver developers don't seem to want to commit to a new way of doing things, but they aren't keeping the old methods up-to-date either.

They have a new CSS designer that I find very difficult to use to create new styles. Once I've got a style set, it's easy, but setting that style is challenging in the extreme. Almost every time I give up and go back to the CSS directly and style my document from the code.

One of the things I don't like about the CSS designer is how limited it appears to be. Yes, it has a lot of style properties. But if you want to use a cutting-edge property, or even just one that the Dreamweaver developers didn't consider, you are back to the code editor. For instance, I couldn't find in the CSS designer nor could I figure out how to set a @font-face value. The first (font-size-adjust) might be slightly esoteric, but @font-face is becoming the defacto method of defining fonts on websites.

Some Frustrations are Still Here

As I mentioned up above in the “Cons” section, there are some features that are missing that can be annoyances.

Editing in Live View is still not allowed and support for frameworks is limited. The linkchecker is still pretty useless and unless you like videos and only videos learning to use it can be difficult.

But my biggest disappointment in Dreamweaver CC is that it feels like Dreamweaver 8. I know there is innovation going on at Adobe because they have come out with some really interesting products like Edge Animate, Reflow, and Adobe Muse. But none of those innovations seem to be appearing on the Dreamweaver landscape. My inner cynic believes that this is because these other products are availalble in the full Creative Cloud release ($49.99 per month subscription) and Adobe wants to encourage Dreamweaver customers to upgrade to get them. But I hope not. And I hope future upgrades to Dreamweaver are more substantial than this one.

Should You Get Dreamweaver CC?

The true answer is, “it depends.”

  • Dreamweaver CC brings together mobile app development like few other web editors do. So if you're planning on building mobile applications and you want to use PhoneGap to do it, Dreamweaver CC is a great choice.
  • If you haven't upgraded Dreamweaver in several years, you might like some of the features that have been added since. Check out my Dreamweaver Profile to see reviews of older versions to get an idea of what you'd be getting from CC.
  • If you’re a beginner who doesn’t have another web editor and you think you want to become a professional web designer, then Dreamweaver is a good choice because it is widely used in the industry.

But Dreamweaver CC is not right for everyone. Dreamweaver CC is only available by subscription, so if you're not willing to pay the $19.99 per month (or $49.99 per month for the full Creative Cloud subscription), you might want to pass. Also if you're looking for a tool that will help you with easy-to-use visual tools for doing responsive design, you'll need to look elsewhere.

In many ways Dreamweaver CC is essentially the same software it was when it first was integrated into the Adobe line of products 6+ years ago.

And that is a disappointment. But it has kept up with industry standards and still gets 4 stars on features alone.

This product was reviewed using an NFR copy supplied by the publisher and information on their website. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.