Some background: I work in an internet marketing firm. My manager and I were just talking, and he brought up that some of our clients have complained that my web pages don't display "correctly" in Dreamweaver when they go to edit them after we've delivered (adding SEO tags and such, I imagine). Apparently, this is a serious concern of theirs. He, also, wants me to code in a way that will display in Dreamweaver just as it will display in the browser, as on the rare occasion that I'm not here, he wants to be able to make changes as needed. (He can't code HTML or even read it well)

Now, I put on my serious face really quickly because there have been times in the past when I thought he and I were on the same page with stuff like this, and I'd laugh at the joke, and he'd get mad because - ba dum dum tssh - it hadn't been a joke.

So now he's seriously asking me to not only code in Dreamweaver, but to find a way to code in Dreamweaver where what you see in display view will be identical to what the browser shows. Here's my question:

Am I just being a text editor snob about this? I haven't used DW in a long time - sure I cracked it open just now to look at my code in it; found all the things I hated about it five years ago to still be there: slow response times, unpredictable display behavior, a UI based on a visual metaphor that is just awkward to work with, lackluster text editor, etc etc - but I could just be suffering from some sort of pernicious bias. I'm open to that possibility. Just like I'm open to the possibility that my clients and manager are out of their minds. I just need an outside opinion so I can choose the best (in an objective sense) way to handle the situation.

Personally, I was under the impression that Dreamweaver's design view was never meant to be an accurate display of content, just a kind of "just good enough" halfway point to enable non-coders to drag and drop instead of writing code.

I should probably add that I don't design the web pages, the designers do, and the designers know less HTML than my manager does, so they will often obliviously put me in a position where I've got to pull off some fairly acrobatic coding to make their designs work, making it even LESS likely that I will be able to deliver pages that are simultaneously true to design, browser, AND Dreamweaver's ham-fisted rendering.

Opinions? Am I being unreasonable here? Or am I correct in thinking that this is either not possible, not feasible, or simply a completely unnecessary condition that will in the end add very little value in return for the extra time, heartbreak, and head-to-desk injuries I will incur?

2 Answers 2


[Why are you having clients/end users edit documents in Dreamweaver? But, anyway:]

Personally, I was under the impression that Dreamweaver's design view was never meant to be an accurate display of content,

This is more or less correct. Design view and live view are relatively close and do get better from version to version, but there's no promise they're perfect. They're meant to be convenient approximations for design and coding purposes, not replacements for actual browser testing, etc. [...or for clients to be seeing, because they're not likely to understand that distinction.]

Which brings us to the more important point that this request just doesn't make sense. (You'll probably have to use different words than that when you have this argument with your boss.)
There is no "the" browser for you to be matching. Dreamweaver's embedded rendering engine is WebKit, sure. But whatever version is in DW is not necessarily in sync with whatever version of Safari is out at any given moment, which isn't necessarily in sync with whatever version of Chrome is out this week. In fact, you can be sure they don't match. And that's not even taking into account the other browsers that don't use WebKit in the first place.

Back to my question up top, though, the real reason your clients are complaining is that you seem to have put an inappropriate tool in front of them. If they're making edits to their own site, you may want to reconsider this entire process. Dreamweaver can be used to manage sites, but that doesn't mean it's intended that anybody can use it to do so. If it's that you guys want to stay within the Adobe suite or whatever, it seems like maybe they should be using Contribute instead.

  • Thanks! Believe me, the LAST thing I want is our customers touching anything I make. We're not "having" them edit anything. It's just that they're all online merchants and they all suffer from the whole "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" thing. They insist on messing with the code themselves and there's really nothing we can do to stop them. Commented May 16, 2011 at 9:15
  • We use Contribute and I'm very pleased with the way it allows people to edit pages with a reduced chance of spoiling them, because it isn't that powerful. Commented May 16, 2011 at 9:15
  • @StormShadow Oh, okay. I'd thought you meant the "edit after delivery" was actually intentional. If that's unavoidable, then I'd say things need to lean harder in the "give them the proper tools" direction, eg. Contribute. Arguing about matching Dreamweaver is pointless; they shouldn't be using it, period, and if you give them a better option they might–should–stop going behind your back.
    – Su'
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 15:08

I think it's possible to design for the web browser that is DWs design view, as you would for any other browser. However like any other browser you have to ask the question, "Are many people using this browser?". The answer in your case is clearly no.

So if they want you to make things work in this particular specialist, minority browser that they happen to be using, it's going to make things take a lot longer, which is going to cost them more money. Do they really want that?

  • This is precisely what I want to say to this guy. The trick, if my sanity check comes up OK, will be finding a way to express this without making him feel like I'm explaining to him how to do his job. Commented May 16, 2011 at 10:05

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