Dreamweaver has never been the easiest way to build websites, and that doesn't change in CS5.5, but if you're already familiar with the program then you'll appreciate the new speedup tweaks. You can start a new site simply by providing a name and a location on your hard drive, for instance. And updated and simplified CS5.5 Starter Layouts include plenty of comments to get your standards-based sites up to speed more quickly.

The new CSS Inspect command then helps you understand the CSS box model by highlighting your borders, margins and padding in different colours. And as you move the mouse cursor around the page, from element to element, a CSS panel will display their various rules and properties.

Work on PHP projects instead and you'll get plenty of assistance, with greatly enhanced code hinting. This now also includes specific support for PHP-based content management systems, including Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress.

Handy integration improvements include enhanced support for Subversion, good news for anyone working on collaborative web development projects.

And perhaps best of all is the support for Adobe BrowserLab, a new CS Live service that reveals how your pages will look on various browser versions and platforms, and makes it easy to compare the results. You can launch BrowserLab directly from Dreamweaver, then zoom in on the pages to quickly identify even the smallest errors.

Note that the download for Adobe Dreamweaver 5.5 is a "download manager" which installs to your computer, requires you to login with your Adobe user/pass and then choose the components you want to download in full and install. A fairly longwinded process.


BrowserLab integration provides an easy and effective way to test your sites, and the CSS and PHP extras are worth having, but otherwise there's little to grab the headlines - Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5 is more about incremental improvements for existing users, but is still a compelling market-leading web development tool for everyone else.