Dreamweaver, the flagship web authoring tool that Adobe acquired from Macromedia in the same buyout that netted it Flash, is a mature application. In Adobe Dreamweaver CS5.5 there is welcome enhanced support for the most current versions of HTML and CSS. The adoption of HTML5 elements in current browsers is accelerating, bringing rich media capability to the web without plug-ins.

CSS 3 is important, with drawing and animation features missing from previous versions. CS5.5 offers HTML5 support and live previews using the latest version of Webkit - the rendering engine that drives both Google Chrome and Safari.

Talking about HTML5, this version of Dreamweaver makes Adobe's most serious attempt to cater to multiplatform, with the Multiscreen authoring view, offering enhanced support for multiple content. Entering Multiscreen gives you design views for phone, desktop and tablet, live. It enables you to target and customise CSS for each form factor, with Dreamweaver writing the detection and selection code for you.

Despite Adobe's recent spat with Apple over Flash, the iPhone and iPad are directly catered for in this mobile-aware incarnation of Dreamweaver. Using the third-party PhoneGap framework, you're able to build and package apps using familiar web authoring languages. That's not the only partnership to enhance Dreamweaver CS5.5's production power. Support for the JQuery JavaScript framework brings complex and powerful interface and interaction capabilities to your pages, apps and sites.

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The new features in Dreamweaver are timely and valuable, but they are added to a package that's already stuffed with functionality. Dreamweaver's now an application builder, an IDE for mobile platforms, a theme builder for content management systems, and more. If we have a complaint, it's that Dreamweaver lacks focus and is in real danger of succumbing to bloat.

OUR VERDICT

If you’re serious about dynamic site and application development from scratch, Dreamweaver’s the closest thing to a universal tool – it does it all.

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