How to Create Dynamic Websites in Dreamweaver


Adobe Dreamweaver is arguably the best web-building product on the market, but sometimes quality increases complexity. While it provides a range of tools for building dynamic websites--which are database-driven websites that use a scripting language such as PHP--it can be tough finding just where the tools are, or how to use them well. If you have a little patience and like to problem-solve, you'll be on your way.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • Open Dreamweaver and select the appropriate project under the "Create New" list. Because you're trying to build a dynamic website, you'll want to select a scripting language with database-connection capabilities, namely PHP, ASP.NET or ColdFusion.

  • Familiarize yourself with the basic Dreamweaver screen. By default, you should have a toolbar at the top of the screen for basic File, Edit, View, etc. functions. Below that should be a screen showing the current page's code, and below that should be a screen showing the current page's design--what it will actually look like in a browser.

    At the top of the sidebar on your right should be an "Insert" panel that lists a series of common tasks like hyperlinking and inserting images. If you click the drop-down menu at the top that says "Common," you'll see a list of more specialized categories. For example, if you're making a PHP page, one of the options will be PHP; select it and you'll be given a list of common PHP-specific tasks.

    Below the Insert panel is a CSS Styles panel and a file manager; there's also a bottom toolbar used for inserting HTML and CSS properties.

  • Create a page design and figure out where the dynamic elements of the page will go; as the Adobe website says, "the design of the page becomes crucial to its usability." For example, if you're pulling an article from a database, you should create a layout that allows space for the article's title and content--and perhaps author and date as well. If you're pulling data such as a member list, you should create a table- or list-based layout that can display a member's information such as their username, contact info, or location.

  • Open the Bindings panel. If it doesn't display by default on the right sidebar of your workspace, select the drop-down menu on the top right-hand-corner of the screen that displays "Designer." Of the choices, select "Classic." The Bindings panel should now appear as one of the boxes on the right sidebar.

  • Follow the instructions on the Bindings panel to use dynamic data; you'll be taken through a wizard asking you for your site name and your server information. The purpose of this is to connect to a database that you can pull information from. To do this, you'll need to set up a private server on your computer outside of Dreamweaver. Probably the easiest way to do this is to download Xampp (see Resources), a free and open-source private server that works with PHP and the MySQL database.

  • Click on the plus ("+") button in the top-left corner of the bindings panel and select "Recordset." You'll be asked to input the database information to finish connecting to the database; this includes the server (which will be "localhost" on Xampp), and the database's name, username and password. When finished, you'll have completed a connection and can use the recordset to insert data on your page directly from the database.

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  • Photo Credit Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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