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Advanced HTML and Site Tools for Dreamweaver MX

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This sample chapter covers some of Dreamweaver MX's advanced features such as advanced page layout, navigation, and site management and their numerous additional support tools, windows, options, and dialog boxes.
This chapter is from the book

In yesterday's lesson you learned that the basics of designing a simple Web site consisting of text, images, links, and tables. So what else is there? Plenty. Although you now know the tools necessary to construct most basic sites, there are a number of additional functions that can aid in advanced page layout, navigation, and site management. With the advanced features come numerous additional support tools, windows, options, dialog boxes, and so on. There's a great deal of information contained here, so be patient and take the time to work with the tools. Among other things, you'll work with:

  • Dreamweaver's navigation tools

  • Layers for precise control over Web page content

  • Framesets that can divide a Web browser window into multiple components

  • Cascading style sheets for precise control of fonts, margins, and other page elements

  • HTML code editing tools

  • Additional site-management features

Advanced Navigation

Yesterday you learned how to make simple links by selecting objects and using the Properties panel or Insert menu to add links to other pages. Now let's look at alternative ways of navigating through pages, such as image maps, named anchors, and other special tools.

To explore these tools, we'll look at creating alternative versions of the Web site that we worked with yesterday. As a first step, you should create a new site named Day 3 (using the same steps as yesterday) using the Day 3 files archive available at http://downloads.cutelittledogs.com/.

After setting up the site files, open the home page (index.html) by double-clicking the file in the Site Files window, or choose Open from the File menu.

We're now ready to try some alternative navigation methods.

Drawing Image Maps (Hotspots)

Images can easily be made into links by selecting them and using the Make Link option under the Modify menu, or by simply filling in a URL in the Link field of the Properties window. This is fine, but it requires multiple images in order to link to multiple pages. To link a single image to several pages, you can set up an "image map" using the Dreamweaver MX tools.

An image map (or Dreamweaver MX "Hotspot") is defined visually by drawing regions within a single image—these regions can then be linked to other files, anchors, and so on—the same as any other link. When the Web was still in its infancy, image maps were confusing and complicated to make—in fact, image maps initially required the server to process information, rather than the client. With Dreamweaver MX, however, you simply draw the shapes that you want to represent links, and then connect them to other pages using the same tools you've already seen.

For example, let's take a look at the links on the home page that we made yesterday, seen in Figure 3.1.

Figure 3.1 Let's try to do something a bit more exciting with these links.

As we look at the different navigation tools, we'll use the home page as the testbed for alternatives. Examples of the changes are online at http://day3.cutelittledogs.com.

Open the file index.html in your Day 3 site and scroll down to the bottom where the links are. I've removed them from this file because you're going to replace them with a single image-mapped graphic.

Using the Insert panel or the Insert menu, (or one of the many other ways to add an image to a document), add the file imagemapnav.jpg from the site's images directory to the bottom of the page. Your document should look a bit like the window in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2 Add the navigation image to your page.

Image maps are created through the use of the Properties panel (much like everything else in Dreamweaver). When an image is selected, tools for "drawing" a map appear within the panel, demonstrated in Figure 3.3.

Figure 3.3 Use the Properties window drawing tools to "draw" an image map.

Follow these steps to create an image map.

  1. Select the image in the design view, and then open the Properties panel.

  2. Enter a name for the image map in the Map Name field. This is an arbitrary name used to name the map coordinates in the HTML file.

  3. Use the rectangle tool to draw "hotspots" around each of the buttons in the image. Depending on the type of image you're working with, the oval or polygon tools might be better choices, but for rectangular buttons, a rectangle tool is a reasonably good fit.

  4. After you draw several regions for the image map, you can use the pointer arrow to highlight an individual region or hotspot for resizing or defining its link.

Once completed, each mapped area can be linked by selecting highlighting it and using the Properties panel, shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4 Define the link for the region by selecting the hotspots and filling in the fields in the Properties panel.

Choose the hotspots, and then using the Link field (or crosshairs or folder icon) in the Properties panel to pick the files that they will connect to. These should be identical to the links you created yesterday.

After you define all the hotspot links, the image map is ready. Save this version of the home page as index2.html and preview it in your browser. Clicking one of the hotspots should take you to page you've defined.

Rollover Images

Image maps are fine, but how about a bit more pizzazz? You've all seen images that change as your mouse moves over them—these are "rollover" images, and are extremely simple to create in Dreamweaver MX. Besides looking pretty, rollover images also provide a visual indicator so that users know what is (and isn't) navigation.

Open the base index.html file again, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and position the cursor where the navigation is needed. This time we're going to add a few rollover images to provide links to other pages.

To add a rollover image link, follow these steps:

  1. Click the rollover image button in the Insert panel, or use the Insert menu.

  2. The Insert Rollover Image dialog box, displayed in Figure 3.5, will be displayed.

Figure 3.5 Generating rollover images is a matter of filling in a few fields.

  1. Enter a name for the rollover image. This is used by the JavaScript that "powers" the rollover and can be anything you like, as long as it is unique.

  2. Choose the "original" image (this is the default state of the rollover graphic) by filling in the supplied field, or by clicking the Browse icon and choosing an image from your site.

  3. Choose the "rollover" image using the same method. The rollover image is the graphic that's displayed when the mouse is over the image. Click the Preload check box to ensure that the rollover image loads when the page loads. This eliminates "lag" in the rollover effect.

  4. Enter any alternative text that you want to appear in nongraphical browsers.

  5. Enter the URL that the image should link to when clicked. You can simply fill in the field or click the Browse button and choose it from your site.

  6. Click OK when you're finished.

For your home page, there are several predefined images that you can use to test the rollover features:

about_off.jpg, about_on.jpg
gallery_off.jpg, gallery_on.jpg
links_off.jpg, links_on.jpg

Go ahead and add them to your document. When you're finished, save it as index3.html and preview it in your browser. Because there really isn't any way to show a rollover in a figure, I recommend visiting http://day3.cutelittledogs.com/ to get an idea of how it should work.

Navigation Bar

If you worked through the previous exercise, you might have noticed that the steps you took to create your navigation elements were quite repetitive. You have also noticed that if you resize your browser to a size smaller than what the images can fit in, they'll wrap to another line. You can get around this by inserting the images into the table, but we're lazy, aren't we? It would be nice if there were a way for Dreamweaver to do all of this for us...

There is—the built-in navigation bar tool.

The navigation bar tool is a link-management tool. It automatically creates rollover images, links, and stores it all in a convenient table. You can easily modify the navigation bar at any time—even change it from a horizontal to vertical orientation with a single click. To test the tool, open the index.html file yet again. You'll be creating one more version of the home page using the navigation bar tool. Position your cursor where you'd like the navigation to be inserted and click the navigation bar icon within the Insert panel. Dreamweaver MX will open the Insert Navigation Bar dialog box, displayed in Figure 3.6.

Figure 3.6 The navigation bar builds a table of links, complete with dynamic images.

The Nav Bar Elements field is a list of the different "units" (links and their associated images) that make up the navigation bar. Clicking the "+" button adds a new element, whereas "-" deletes the selected element. The up and down arrows to the right of the list move the selected element's position within the list.

TIP

These controls (the "+"/"-" and arrow buttons) are common throughout the Dreamweaver MX application. If you understand their use here, you'll know what to do when you see them elsewhere.

By default, there is a single element unnamed1 added to a default navigation bar. You can change the name of this element by highlighting it in the element list and then changing the Element Name field. The name is not displayed in the browser, so it isn't necessary to use names that would make sense to the client.

After filling in the element name, you can then add up to four images that will be displayed as the client's cursor moves over the graphic:

Up Image—The default image that is displayed.
Over Image—The image that is displayed as the mouse "hovers" over an image. (This is the same as the "on" image in a rollover graphic.)
Down Image—An image that is displayed when the user first clicks the graphic.
Over While Down Image—A graphic to show if the user continues to hold down on navigation element.
Alternative Text—Text to be displayed if the images cannot be displayed.

As with the standard rollover images discussed earlier, fill in the Go To URL field with the page that the element should link to, or use the Browse button to make a choice. The pop-up menu to the right of this field controls where the link will be take the users. By default it will be displayed in the main window, but if your site is using frames (we'll get to frames shortly, don't worry!), you can direct the link to a certain frame.

Finally, you can choose to preload the images for each element so that they react quickly when a user mouses over them, or to show the down image rather than the up image by default.

TIP

Preloading images is usually a good idea. On slow connections it can cause the page to take longer to load, but will ultimately result in a more "snappy" user experience.

After defining all the elements used for the navigation, use the Insert pop-up menu to choose whether the bar will be laid out horizontally or vertically and be sure to check the Use Tables check box so that the elements will stick together if the browser is resized.

Go ahead and test the navigation bar's capabilities by using the same images from the basic rollovers you created earlier:

about_off.jpg, about_on.jpg
gallery_off.jpg, gallery_on.jpg
links_off.jpg, links_on.jpg

The Up images correspond to the "off" files, whereas the Over image (or the Down image, if you'd like a slightly different effect) should be set to the "on" files. Figure 3.7, for the sake of being different, shows the navigation bar laid out vertically.

Figure 3.7 How about a vertical navigation bar?

After you create a navigation bar, you can select it in the design window and choose "navigation bar" from the Modify menu to add/delete or rearrange its elements. Alternatively, you can click the navigation bar icon again, as if to add a new bar. Dreamweaver MX only allows one bar per document and will offer to open the existing bar.

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