Adobe Dreamweaver — which longtime users still slip and call Macromedia Dreamweaver — is certainly the best Web site builder around, as it has been since version 1.0.
But ever since its inception, it’s been targeted at experienced users, lacking easy introductory tools like wizards and templates.
Beginning users had the choice of using less powerful tools, like Microsoft FrontPage, or slogging through Dreamweaver with an HTML manual open on their desks.
Thankfully, there’s a solution for those who want to harness the power of Dreamweaver without learning code first.
WebAssist, a company that counts 10 ex-Macromedia employees among its 20 employees, has released SiteAssist, 3.0.
It’s the latest version of the company’s Dreamweaver extension, which adds all the beginner tools that the program never had.
WebAssist is based in San Diego and counts 70,000 active users of its existing professional and enterprise tools. The company is a leader in Dreamweaver extensions, and it already offers 15 commercial extensions.
SiteAssist is an excellent choice for small offices that need to build an entire intranet or Web site from scratch, but lack the staff and the know-how.
The five-step wizard interface guides you through the process of making a customized, complete site, so that even people who have never created an intranet before will find it simple.
First you choose the type of site you want from a supplied list. “Intranet” is one of the choices, and selecting it will help you create the kind of departmental pages an intranet needs (see screen shot 1).
Other site types include non-profit, real estate, and education. Next, you select a layout type from 20 templates (11 are new with this release).
These are all basic page layout options that your pages could use. You also choose a navigation style (from 17 styles, seven of which are new, showing where your nav bar will go and how it will look) and the color scheme you’d like (from 11 different configurations).
With the basics done, you customize the page tree, adding and deleting pages from a diagram until you have a site that fits your needs.
After that, you choose a footer for your site. The last step is simply to confirm your choices; SiteAssist does the rest.
SiteAssist works within Dreamweaver MX or 8 on Windows or Macintosh PCs, so there’s no new interface to learn. The extension simply adds new menu items to the existing interface.
Once it’s completed your pages, you can edit them like you would any other Dreamweaver pages. With version 3, the extension can create CSS standards-compliant layouts and navigation.
Pages will display perfectly on Internet Explorer 6 and 7, FireFox 1.5, Safari 2, and Opera 9.
If you need to make additional site-wide changes after you’ve finished, you can re-enter the wizard to add new pages, delete pages, change the color scheme, and more.
Designers can easily exchange templates they’ve created using SiteAssist. Advanced users can also learn to customize their templates.
SiteAssist sells for $199, although it’s being offered at the introductory price of $159 through August 15.
The company offers a discount for companies buying five or more licenses, and for education customers buying any amount.
For a better look at SiteAssist, go to the company’s product page or view the online demonstration.