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30 Days of CS5: Content Management Support

Web design was once reserved for those elusive few who mastered the languages of the Web, HTML, JavaScript and PHP. Over time, WYSIWYG editors made the process a little less daunting, then came Content Management Systems (CMS) and, most recently, open source platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. These three applications have the benefit of being widely adopted, actively developed and very powerful, but they are also free, which makes them very attractive to individuals and businesses from all backgrounds. To give you a sense of the popularity of open source CMS platforms, WordPress.com, the free, hosted version of WordPress touts over 11 million active blogs, and this doesn’t count all the self-hosted WordPress blogs, like this one, that they cannot track as easily.

The biggest problem with these open source CMS applications is that while they’re easy to use, they aren’t necessarily easy to install, modify or customize using a Web development tool like Dreamweaver because they’re written in a PHP, a language used for Web databases. Unlike HTML, where all the contents of the page are contained in a single file, a given page on a WordPress blog might be comprised of dozens of different files.

Adobe worked to simplify this problem by developing the Live View feature within Dreamweaver CS5. Live View automatically assembles all the .php, .xml, javascript and other files that make up your WordPress blog or Drupal site, allowing you to make changes to your site and see them updated on the fly.

As the old saying goes, a little knowledge is dangerous and being able to perform changes on the live site can be destructive indeed, so if you intend to perform major surgery on your CMS site, I highly recommend setting up a testing server where you can safely work on your site without fear of wrecking your live site. Doing so is quite a bit more complicated as it requires you to setup a remote testing server, or configure your computer to act like a local testing server using either MAMP or XAMPP. Instructions for setting up the local testing server can be found in the December 2009 issue of the Edge Newsletter.

To get up to speed quickly on the new Live View features in Dreamweaver CS5, check out the tutorial video embedded below.

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