We’ve been hearing that a lot of people have been looking for the Layout mode documentation in Dreamweaver CS4. As of Dreamweaver CS4, Layout mode is no longer in the product.
Here’s why (according to our magnificent web guru, Murray Summers):
1. Perhaps most importantly, the old Layout mode in Dreamweaver CS3 and earlier sits between you and *real* HTML tables,and fools you into believing that concepts like “layout cell” and “autostretch” really mean something. They do not. As long as you use Layout Mode, you’ll never learn one of the most important things for new web developers – how to build solid and reliable tables.
2. Actually, #1 wouldn’t be *so* bad, except that the code that is written by Layout Mode is really poor code. For example, a layout table contains MANY empty rows of cells. This can contribute to a table’s instability. In addition, if your initial positioning of the table’s cells is a bit complex, Layout Mode will throw in col- and rowspans aplenty as it merges and splits cells willy-nillly to achieve the pixel-perfect layout you have specified. Again, this is an extremely poor method for building stable tables, because it allows changes in one tiny cell’s shape (i.e, dimensions) to ripple through the rest of the table, usually with unexpected and sometimes disastrous consequences. This is one of the primary reasons for the final result’s fragility – read this –
3. The UI for Layout Mode is beyond confusing – many options that you might want to use are inaccessible, e.g., inserting another table, or layer onto the page.
To make good tables, keep it simple. Put a table on the page, and begin to load your content. If you would want a different table layout, instead of merging or splitting cells, consider stacking tables or nesting simple tables instead, respectively.
At the time of the CS4 release, Layout mode was only mentioned on the deprecated features list at the bottom of the What’s New page:
But now we’ve also put a note in the tables documentation indicating that we’ve removed the feature:
But since this is buried deep in the many pages of Dreamweaver Help, we encourage you to blog about this feature going bye-bye if you post regularly about this sort of thing.
Jon Michael Varese
Lead Writer, Dreamweaver