Dreamweaver Task Force
The WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force was created in 2001 to accomplish two
tasks of vital importance:
- To work with Macromedia’s engineers to improve the
standards compliance and accessibility of web pages produced with
Macromedia Dreamweaver, the market-leading professional visual web
editor and development tool. Detailed objectives are listed below.
This part of the group’s mission was largely fulfilled with the
release in May 2002 of Dreamweaver MX, though the Task Force will
continue to work with Macromedia as the company fine-tunes subsequent
versions of its product.
- To communicate effectively within the online Dreamweaver community,
raising awareness of web standards and helping others discover how
their tools can be used to create standards-compliant, accessible
sites. This work will continue indefinitely and is a key component of
WaSP’s developer education outreach program.
Rachel Andrew and
Drew McLellan have spearheaded
both efforts, interfacing with
Tom Negrino, and
Rachel and Drew were chosen because of their knowledge of web
standards and accessibility, their esteemed positions within the
Dreamweaver community, and because they said yes. They put in a
phenomenal amount of work on behalf of the design and development
community, as did Macromedia’s engineers, whose responsiveness to
the Dreamweaver Task Force and its objectives has been remarkably open
Listed below, exactly as they were originally written, are the
objectives that guided the Task Force’s work with
Macromedia’s engineers. These are followed by an assessment of
the standards compliance and accessibility of Dreamweaver MX and a
short list of improvements we hope to see in future versions.
The WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force has set out a number of primary
objectives. These are the main, fundamental points Dreamweaver should
attain in order to be a useful tool for creating standards-compliant
- Dreamweaver should produce valid mark-up “out of the box.”
- Dreamweaver should allow the choice between XHTML and HTML
versions, inserting a valid DTD for each choice.
- Dreamweaver should respect a document’s DTD, and produce
markup and code in accordance with it.
- Dreamweaver should enable users to easily create web documents
accessible to all.
- Dreamweaver should render CSS2 to a good level of accuracy, so
that pages laid out with CSS can be worked on within the Dreamweaver
- Dreamweaver should not corrupt valid CSS layouts by inserting
inline styling without the user’s consent.
- Dreamweaver users should feel confident that their
Dreamweaver-created pages will validate and have a high level of
The Task Force believes that a designer should be able to use
Dreamweaver to create valid hypertext documents by default.
Additionally, Dreamweaver should, at the very least, properly render
pages laid out with CSS, if not create those layouts from within the
tool. Importantly, Dreamweaver should not distress imported CSS
layouts created in other tools or by hand.
The WaSP Dreamweaver Task Force has an additional list of objectives,
secondary to those listed above. These lie somewhere between
“must-have” and “wish list:”
- Dreamweaver should produce clean, tidy markup.
- Dreamweaver should, or should provide the mechanisms for,
third-party extensions to respect the document’s DTD and insert
- Dreamweaver should provide clear mechanisms for third-party
extension developers, enabling them to develop extensions that will not
corrupt the validity or usefulness of a Dreamweaver user’s page.
This applies for everything from markup validity through following
- The default settings in Dreamweaver should encourage the use of
accessibility features and more up-to-date standards such as XHTML
- Dreamweaver should not encourage the use of deprecated tags or
attributes by its default settings or interface design.
Working with the Dreamweaver Community
An important part of the Task Force’s work is to be active
within the very strong community of Dreamweaver users, promoting web
standards and providing education in their use. Activities include:
- Introducing web standards to those who may be taking their first
steps into web development, particularly those coming from a more
- While remaining on-topic and within the parameters of the
Macromedia news groups, to answer posts by recommending methods that
comply with web standards, and explaining the problems of sticking
with deprecated markup and code.
- Creating web tutorials for Dreamweaver users, showing how to employ
web standards within Dreamweaver in a thoroughly practical way.
- Developing resources to assist Dreamweaver users in getting the
most out of Dreamweaver by creating compliant and accessible web
Release of Macromedia Dreamweaver MX
Macromedia released Dreamweaver MX in May 2002, offering vastly
improved standards compliance and accessibility over previous
versions. On the following page, The WaSP’s Dreamweaver Task Force assesses the product’s compliance with web
standards and discusses a few areas that might be improved in future