Do Web Designers Still Use Dreamweaver?

5 September 2022
Do Web Designers Still Use Dreamweaver?

Do web designers still use Dreamweaver which was first released 25 years ago? In the technology timeframe, the software can be considered ancient. Web designers won’t go for something that’s a quarter of a century old. Many modern-day alternatives are equally capable and less expensive.

But then again, the product’s current owners did not just leave it as a relic of the past after acquiring it seven years after its introduction. Adobe improved on it and continually updated it through the years. Its latest version – Dreamweaver 21.3 as of June 2022 – is described as an “all-in-one visual development tool for creating, publishing, and managing websites and mobile content.”

So do web designers still use Dreamweaver? To come up with a verdict, we’ll examine the features of this product, its pros and cons, and some comparable tools in the market. We will also tune in to what web developers and designers themselves are saying about it.

What is Dreamweaver?

Dreamweaver is a program built by Macromedia in 1997 for the purpose of designing websites. It was acquired by Adobe in 2005 which continued developing and updating it to be responsive to current computing requirements.

The main characteristic of the software is that it’s a visual web page editor that lets you create, manage, and edit web pages and sites even without HTML knowledge. But it fully supports and is compatible with web and programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. Dreamweaver utilizes a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) environment which enables you to view how web pages and content appear as you create them.

Presently, Adobe Dreamweaver CC is billed as a comprehensive visual development app for website and mobile content. This means you can build, organize, and publish websites, web apps, and all contents within, complete with dynamic functionalities and viewable on any browser or device.

Web designers can benefit from the app’s starter templates to quickly create customizable websites fit for any business niche or industry. Meanwhile, programmers and developers can get active assistance from the software which provides lines of code, quicker updates, and easier edits.

Features of Dreamweaver

Dreamwaver

Dreamweaver is regarded as a versatile tool for web editing because of the many features it carries. In no particular order, these include the following:

  • Capability to design either visually (with Live View) or through code (an underlying code is generated as you lay out the design).
  • Auto-complete ability as well as spell check and syntax checker to ensure code syntax rules are properly followed.
  • Support for over a dozen web and programming languages such as HTML, ASP, PHP, JSP, CSS, XML, etc.
  • Test and use various CMS such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal so you can see how your pages work through them.
  • Color palette with several color choices; you can use the default color or compose your color.
  • Publishing tool and built-in FTP and support for SFTP for easy organizing/linking of files and connection to a web server.
  • Editable starter template pages to help you quickly come up with solid designs.
  • Continuous improvements and adding of features as web technologies evolve.
  • Support for both Windows and Mac OS platforms.
  • Others: developer workspace, code themes, code introspection, in-context CSS documentation, typekit marketplace, HiDPI, and multi-monitor (Windows only).

Pricing

Dreamweaver offers a free trial. Its pricing depends on the type of subscription and mode of payment. Do check the product’s pricing page for any changes in its rates.

Single App

  • Monthly – $31.49/mo
  • Yearly (billed monthly) – $20.99/mo ($251.88/yr)
  • Yearly (billed upfront) – $239.88/yr ($19.99/mo)

Creative Cloud All Apps (20+ mobile & desktop apps including Dreamweaver)

  • Monthly – $82.49/mo
  • Yearly (billed monthly) – $54.99/mo ($659.88/yr)
  • Yearly (billed upfront) – $599.88/yr ($49.99/mo)

Creative Cloud All Apps for Students and Teachers

  • Yearly (billed monthly) – $19.99/mo* ($239.88/yr)
  • Yearly (billed upfront) – $219.00/yr ($18.25/mo)

* Rate/month for 1st year and $29.99/month upon renewal

Creative Cloud All Apps for Business

  • Monthly – $84.99/mo per license
  • Yearly – $1,019.88/yr per license

Dreamweaver Advantages

Put together, the many features we’ve enumerated in the preceding section comprise the strength of Dreamweaver. Of particular mention are its programming capabilities and efficient management of files. Here are some of the upsides of Dreamweaver.

  1. Code highlighting. A different set of colors are used to highlight various code whether in HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, etc. While pros may not bother with this, it can be very useful for beginners, helping them track code, spot errors, and easily make the corresponding changes.
  2. Code suggestion. Another helpful feature is how the app provides a list of suggestions as you type in, for example, an HTML tag. It works not only for tags but also for attributes, making it a useful, time-saving tool.
  3. Design and code view. This nifty capability lets you switch between views – that of design and the code. Enter your code and instantly see how it looks in the design view, and vice versa. With the WYSIWIG feature, put in the content and see how the app auto-generates code for your visual design action.
  4. File management. Aside from being a robust code editor, the app shines in being a file manager. For instance, any changes you make on a filename will have the system prompt you to update all the links to it and in doing so it will take care of file relationships and connections whether locally or to a web server.
  5. Create and edit templates. This allows you to select an editable area of your page, make modifications, and create a template without having to start from scratch. You can save the template as a standard and there’s no need to go back to the app for editing and creating new pages.
  6. Quick load times. Unlike in WordPress where you rely on plugins for certain functionalities thereby affecting load times, it’s not the case with sites created through Dreamweaver. As a coder and with proper coding, you get more control and flexibility to optimize the loading speed of your pages and sites.
  7. Adobe support. You have access to customer and technical support Adobe is known for including 24/7 customer assistance via live chat, phone call, Twitter help desk, and more resources from Adobe’s active support community.

Dreamweaver Disadvantages

Dreamweaver has its share of drawbacks mostly centering on its UI and steep learning curve. Let’s briefly go over them.

  1. Daunting interface. Even without starting anything yet, you’ll be staring at a confusing UI – the workspace you have to reckon with. It’s filled with menus at the top, more menus and buttons on the right side, and additional menus and boxes at the bottom. Overall, you’ll be looking at over three dozen items to decide on and act on.
  2. High learning curve. If the interface needs some serious learning and familiarity, wait till you start working on your web design project. With a plethora of features, you need to set aside some time to study tutorials and guides and understand how to use Dreamweaver’s array of tools. Simply put, its complexity can be intimidating.
  3. Not browser-based. Dreamweaver is an app you download and install on your Mac, Linux, or Windows desktop computer. While you get a split screen view that shows how your code translates to visuals of your page, many complain that it looks different in an actual browser. Unlike web-based WordPress, any change you make at the backend is what it will look like on your web browser.
  4. Unreliable WYSIWIG. Item #3 above puts in question Dreamweaver’s WYSIWIG feature, particularly its reliability. The visual results can sometimes be inaccurate; hence, you’ll have to go the circuitous route of cross-checking your design or any changes you made on an actual browser.
  5. Expensive app. Another common gripe is the cost of Dreamweaver which is more on the pricey side. This issue comes to the fore when there are other similarly capable apps (you’ll get to know them in a later section) offered at more affordable prices with some even available as free, open-source programs.

What the Community Says

Community

So what does the community of web designers, developers, programmers, and tech experts say about the issue at hand. Do they still use Dreamweaver? Below are selected comments and responses gathered from public discussion sites. We opted to publish only first names or aliases to maintain discretion.

Quora

“It does not lack features that the modern IDE’s have for web development; but somewhat hard to use for the purpose.” ~Baris, programmer

“I don’t think so. Nowadays we have lots of modern text editors which serve better than Dreamweaver.” ~Shankar, web developer

“…it is expensive for what it offers compared to other programs.” Rabin, worked at IBM

“I’ve personally never been a fan of the WYSIWYG feature in Dreamweaver but the Developer Mode which is a Code Editor is actually not that bad.” ~Joel, WP developer

“I don’t know any web developers who use Dreamweaver. There are surely some out there. I tried it out back when Macromedia owned it…Then I realized something: the time spent learning how to use Dreamweaver’s interface could be better used learning HTML itself.” ~James, web developer 

Reddit

“I use dreamweaver at work because it’s what all the other devs there use, and we still use some other tech that makes some of DW’s features handy, like the inbuilt SFTP.” ~MetaSemaphore

“The reasons I don’t use dreamweaver

  1. the font for the code syntax is uncomfortable to my eyes, I have easier time reading the code in brackets.
  2. the program is resource heavy so opening the program takes way longer than other lightweight programs
  3. there are other visual editors that blow dreamweaver out of the water made by innovative people. Pinegrow is one I use…” ~forzaitalia458

“So basically you have 3 big features you pay a premium for (wysiwyg, editor, live preview) and only one of those things actually works well, and there are cheap/free options that work just as well and have a massive number of plugins to extend functionality. That’s why I think DW can’t stand up against the other popular options.” ~letsbreakstuff

“I think Dreamweaver has been overshadowed by all the emerging frameworks and tools which make up modern website development…Open Source has also changed the scene extensively making enterprise programs like Dreamweaver less and less relevant…Do I use Dreamweaver, or do I know someone who uses it… No, not for the last decade.” ~TheRealNetroxen

The catch with the above Quora and Reddit responses is that they were made from 2019 and earlier. Still, we got some interesting answers and strong viewpoints.

As a side note, discussions at the Dreamweaver Community forum on Adobe’s website stretch as far back as 2010 and are peppered with technical issues like system crashes, code errors, and the software being unable to open.

Without a scientific approach like a poll or survey, we won’t know the sentiment of the web developer community. It’s understandable though that Dreamweaver is tagged as legacy software by some, which it is not because it continues getting updates from Adobe. On the strength of its current capabilities, Dreamweaver deserves to be included in the league of modern web design apps.

Alternatives to Dreamweaver

Speaking of the current crop of web design apps, the market is getting tighter for Dreamweaver. In the face of several newer and even established programs of comparable capabilities (some even better by web dev standards) and less expensive (some are even free but get the job done), how does Dreamweaver fare?

Well, the competition is stiff and tough. For zero-cost options alone, there are lots of popular choices such as Atom, Netbeans, Bluefish, SeaMonkey, Brackets, Light Table, OpenBEXI, Amaya, and Macromates, to name a few. We will not examine each of these.

What we want to show below in compact pieces are samplings of both free and paid alternatives so you’ll have some points of comparison with Dreamweaver.

1. Kite

Kite

Kite is an advanced program that can readily connect to 16 programming languages (Python, JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Ruby, PHP, etc) and 16 editors/IDEs (Sublime, WebStorm, AppCode, Spyder, and more), allowing for faster coding and more efficient text editing.

Among its most noteworthy features is having a text editor right alongside a web browser. This eliminates the continuous switching between the two tools while facilitating an internet-connected programming capability and experience.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features

  • AI-powered code completions
  • Smart autocomplete
  • Smart contextual help
  • Intelligent code analysis
  • Flexible security configuration
  • Enterprise model (for on-premise servers)

Price

  • Free

2. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is an open-source code editor created by Microsoft with built-in support for JavaScript, TypeScript, and Node.js. Using extensions, it can support dozens of other programming languages. it is a favorite tool among developers because of its intelligent features, robust capabilities, and zero cost.

The software is part of the Visual Studio family of Microsoft which includes Visual Studio for Windows and Visual Studio for Mac. Visual Studio Code is a standalone software that is compatible with multiple operating systems.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features

  • Intellisense for smart completions
  • Debug code straight from the editor
  • Built-in Git commands
  • Customizable and extensible
  • With Azure, scale and deploy anything from within the app

Price

  • Free

3. Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio is an industry-leading, open-source web dev IDE known for its user-friendly and customizable features. The program utilizes Eclipse (which Adobe uses as the core of its Flex Builder) to give you a powerful and flexible web development engine. As such, you’ll experience much faster and more efficient processes using the app.

Aptana boasts of extensive plug-in support, giving you everything you could ever need such as compatibility with every scripting language. Aside from website design, it also enables you to do advanced app development through free plug-ins.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features

  • Authoring assistance for HTML, CSS, PHP, Ruby, and JavaScript
  • Supports multiple protocols (FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and Capistrano)
  • Integrated debugger
  • IDE customization
  • Built-in terminal for executing OS commands
  • Git source code control, deployment, and collaboration

Price

  • Free

4. Tabnine

Tabnine

Tabnine is dubbed the AI assistant for web and software developers. It brings right into your editor full-function and whole-line code completions. What it does is suggest and predict your next lines of code based on syntax and context. You get advanced and accurate code completions to drastically speed up work.

It gives you super quick inline code completions in almost all programming languages and IDEs. It’s just one among several capabilities of Tabnine that are designed to automate repetitive tasks as well as eliminate consuming code searches.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features

  • AI-assisted code completions
  • Absolute code compliance and privacy
  • Context-aware suggestions
  • Cloud mode/local machine mode
  • No configuration, works out of the box
  • Automated remote knowledge sharing
  • Models trained only on permissive licenses
  • Private model trained on your code

Price

  • Starter – free
  • Pro – $12/month
  • Enterprise – custom pricing

5. WebStorm

Webstorm

WebStorm is an IDE specializing in JavaScript and related technologies. It offers an enjoyable and productive development experience by automating routine processes and assisting you in tackling complicated coding tasks. It comes with features engineered for Web development and programming.

For one, you can write maintainable and more reliable code since the software can undertake dozens of code inspections even as you type, making it quite efficient in tracking potential errors. Simple or large tasks can be handled with ease by this very capable IDE.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features

  • JavaScript specialization
  • Smart editor (code auto-complete, redundancy detector, etc)
  • Complete developer tools in one place
  • Allows collaboration, sharing, and teamwork
  • Quick search and fast navigation
  • Customizable environment (themes and plugins)

Price

Per company advisory, a new pricing will be introduced starting Oct. 1, 2022. Below is pricing for individual use. There are separate rates for organizations and special offers for students, teachers, and educational institutions.

  • Monthly – $5.90
  • New pricing – $6.90/mo
  • Annual – $59 (1st year), $47 (2nd year), $35 (3rd year onwards)
  • New pricing – $69 (1st year), $55 (2nd year), $41 (3rd year onwards)

6. Pinegrow

Pinegrow

Pinegrow is a cross-platform, fully-featured WYSIWYG web editor for professionals. It lets you create and design modern websites through live multi-page editing, CSS grid editor as well as CSS and SASS styling. It also offers support for WordPress, Bootstrap, and Tailwind CSS.

The software has an array of visual power tools to fast-track the process of editing, deleting, cloning, and moving HTML elements as you lay out your web page. Furthermore, you can do CSS styling, coding, or use visual controls for fast operations on a user-friendly interface.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux

Features 

  • Smart drag-and-drop editor
  • Page code editor
  • Page libraries for ready-to-use components
  • Customized themes
  • Columns and grids
  • Multi-page editing
  • Multiple views
  • Device presets and zoom
  • Custom editable areas

Price

Pinegrow Web Editor Pro is available in three subscription plans and comes on a per-user basis. A 30-day money-back guarantee is offered.

  • Monthly – $7.80/month per user
  • Annual – $64.35/year per user
  • One-time payment – $96.85/user

7. BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon

BlueGriffon is from a French software company and was previously two separate products – a Web editor and an EPUB (e-publication) editor – which were merged starting with version 2.2 (it is now on version 3.1 released in 2019). The software traces its ancestry from Netscape, Nvu, and Mozilla Composer.

It utilizes Gecko, the same rendering engine that powers Firefox, and also brings with it a WYSIWYG editor for easy creation and layout of content. Millions of users worldwide apply BlueGriffon as a Web authoring tool and is officially recommended by the French government for use in its various ministries and departments.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux

Features

  • Editable source views
  • Support for HTML 4 & 5, XHTML 1.0 & 1.1, and CSS 3
  • Support for SVG, OCR & EPUB 2, 3.0.1, 3.1
  • UI in 20 languages
  • Panels for style properties, script editor, stylesheets manager
  • Customizable menu
  • WYSIWYG authoring

Price

  • Basic License – 75 Euro
  • EPUB License – 195 Euro

8. CoffeeCup HTML Editor

Coffeecup HTML Editor

CoffeeCup HTML Editor is part of a suite of over a dozen tools for web development including those for web app creation and website design. The editor allows for easy HTML editing, giving you next-level web design experience with its advanced tools for tags and completion of code.

It has lightning-fast capabilities, able to begin operations in mere seconds with its many start options. You can go dive in straight to your design project using pre-made templates or existing themes as well as create new CSS or HTML files from scratch.

Platforms

  • Mac
  • Windows

Features

  • Components library
  • Comprehensive tag reference
  • Visual code selector + Live preview
  • Semantic-web ready
  • Publish anywhere with a built-in FTP uploader
  • Customizable templates

Price

  • Prices are on a per-copy basis where you can get one copy of the software for $29. The cost goes down as you get more copies (up to $15/copy for 250 or more copies). A free trial is offered.

9. Komodo IDE

Komodo IDE

Komodo IDE is a fully cross-platform app that uses Mozilla’s XPCOM interface, making it easy for C++ and JavaScript to work in one computing environment. This makes it unnecessary to install a Java Runtime Engine on computer systems, an ideal solution for developers and programmers looking for a unified IDE.

As expected from a modern, premium coding program, Komodo IDE comes with a full set of integrated smart tools to make fast and efficient development work. It has a powerful code editor and robust debugger that enable fast debugging and code inspecting.

Platforms

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux

Features

  • Smart code editor
  • Code intelligence
  • Graphical debugging
  • Version control and integrated tools
  • Defined workflow and file/project management
  • Customization and add-ons
  • Dev team capabilities (collaboration, shared toolbox, etc)
  • One IDE for all programming languages

Price

  • Free
  • Team – $84/mo (billed annually)
  • Enterprise – custom pricing

10. NetObjects Fusion

NetObjects Fusion

NetObjects Fusion is a website design and builder program that does not require complicated coding. That’s because the app is not an HTML editor but an HTML generator. As you layout your website elements (text, images, etc) the program generates the HTML for you (much like Dreamweaver), giving you way more control of the process.

Many of you are familiar with today’s easy-to-use online codeless website builders like Wix and Squarespace. The principle and UI with NetObjects Fusion are generally the same except that this creates an HTML framework for you and is on-premise software that only works with Windows systems

Platforms

  • Windows

Features

  • Supports HTML5 video and audio
  • Embed Vimeo and YouTouTube videos with purpose-built components
  • Page view with web snippet rendering HTML and script output
  • Support for the latest CSS language
  • Custom CSS framework and grid system
  • Image carousel with captions and links

Price

  • NetObjects Fusion Essentials – Free
  • NetObjects Fusion 15 Upgrade – $74.95
  • NetObjects Fusion 15 Full Version – $129.95

The Verdict

Based on everything that we’ve presented here, the answer to the query – do web designers still use Dreamweaver – is both yes and no. No doubt there is a loyal fan base but it’s safe to assume their numbers aren’t increasing with other alternative apps available. And the cost will have many on second thoughts.

Despite some points working against it, Dreamweaver is a superior tool for designing websites and drafting codes. The scale is more or less even if we stack up the benefits and handicaps at each end. Should you use it? As a web designer or developer, you know your requirements, circumstances, and budget. It’s either Aye or Nay!