Flash vs. Dreamweaver: let the debate begin

At the start of my iMedia graduate program, web design was introduced via the sole conduit of Adobe Dreamweaver, the highly detailed but somewhat clunky (at least to the uninitiated) industry standard for building websites.

As those of us new to the task stumbled through mismanaged div tags, misplaced folders and just general mishaps, the web designer veterans promised something better was one the way. Something called Flash.

Three months later, Flash is here in all its smooth, dynamic and easy-to-grasp glory. Sure, some of its intricacies can be tricky, but you won’t gum up the whole project because you misnamed a file or tagged the wrong item back in the beginning. Everything is stored in a single document, compared to the mess of folders and assets that must be properly tracked through Dreamweaver.

Put it this way. It took me several days to create this somewhat flawed site in Dreamweaver. But it took just a night to create some satisfying pieces in Flash like this festival promotional piece, these web banners or this slideshow.

So the verdict is in right? Dreamweaver is relegated to hard drive exile in favor of its hipper cousin in the Adobe Creative Suite.

Not really. Rather than embrace Flash, my program is doubling back to Dreamweaver, with a reboot of lessons on the program’s detailed interface in my two production classes. It’s become apparent that for all of Flash’s pizzaz, it does a poor job at presenting large quantities of information. And sometimes its fancy graphics aren’t needed as much as a more clean-cut organization of content.

Learning more about Dreamweaver is a good thing, because in my three theory classes I’ve got at least four major website projects on the horizon. In interactive media, it’s not enough to simply write a report on a topic, you’ve got to visually demonstrate your research online.

For each project, I’ll have to make the choice of Flash or Dreamweaver as my program of choice. It’s a good debate to start having now, because companies and organizations are constantly evaluating which of the many software tools best gets their message across.

In the book Groundswell (a bible of sorts for the theory component of this program), one of the key warnings is not to employ technology just for the sake of using it. Even great software or fantastic social media platform falls flat if its function doesn’t fit with the strategy at hand (assuming you even have a strategy to begin with).

So as I get more proficient in both Flash and Dreamweaver through the next couple of months I’ll be taking notes not just on how to make the software work, but also what kinds of projects each is best suited for. By semester’s end, I expect every one of my web projects to have a little bit of both.

    • karenhartshorn
    • October 9th, 2009

    I was debating this too until I realized that you can just embed your SWF’s onto Dreamweaver. If you don’t use Dreamweaver, you won’t come up on Google searches because there are no tags for spiders to analyze! This is a concept I need to study more, because I think Dreamweaver is vital! At least that’s what I gathered from class yesterday, even though Flash looks better. How about we talk about this in person because my post is making no sense! 🙂

    • andersj
    • October 12th, 2009

    Yes, the problem with Flash or Photoshop stuff is that it’s not searchable content – the spiders are picking up the content. Search research folks are working on ways to make visuals into searchable tagged information, and you can tag to a certain extent in naming a flash element or other visual and making it part of a larger CSS piece, but small details within the Flash piece can’t be individually tagged and thus are not searchable.

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