Here is one of the most frequently asked-about situations for new Dreamweaver users:
“I have just inherited a website from another person. The files for the website are on a remote server that I’ve never worked with or accessed. How do I get the web (HTML) files from that other server, onto my own computer so that I can edit them in Dreamweaver?”
The short answer:
Establish a connection to the website’s remote server and download the files to your computer.
The long answer:
You’ll need two main things in order to “get” files from someone else’s remote site:
- A local Dreamweaver site. This is the place on your computer where you’ll store local versions of the web site’s HTML files.
- A connection to the remote site. The remote site is the place out on the web where the website you need to edit is currently living. (Literally, it is a folder on the computer that is running the web server.) Someone else has put that website out there and now you need to edit it. Before you can edit the site, however, you need to connect to the appropriate remote server so that you can access the files.
STEP 1: Set up a local Dreamweaver site
This is the place on your computer where you’ll store the local versions of the web site’s HTML files. (You always want to edit files on your local computer, never live on the remote server.)
For instructions on setting up a local site in Dreamweaver, see Set up a local version of your site in Dreamweaver Help.
STEP 2: Connect to the remote server
Once you’ve set up a local repository on your computer for the HTML files, you need to establish a connection to the remote site that’s out on the web. The idea is to transfer a copy of the files from the remote site to the local version of the site (on your computer). Once the files are local, you can edit them, and then repost them to the web.
See Dreamweaver Help for instructions on connecting to a remote server.
There are numerous ways of connecting to a remote server; we could give 50 examples here and still not cover every permutation. You will likely need to work with a server administrator or an ISP (Internet Service Provider) to create a successful connection. The server administrator (for example, someone who works at the company whose website you now need to edit) needs to provide you with some important pieces of information, namely:
- The type of connection method you need to use. (Most often it’s FTP.)
- The root directory for the website you need to access. (This is the main folder on the remote server where the website “lives”)
- Your username and password, which will give you access to the remote server
Once you have all of the information you need from the server adminstrator, you’ll fill out the Site Setup dialog box in Dreamweaver. (Instructions for how to do so, according to particular connection methods, are detailed in the Help link above.) When you’re finished, your Site Setup dialog box should look something like this. (You can click on the below image to expand it.)
Use the Test button in the Site Setup dialog box to test your connection. If you connect successfully, you are ready to move on. If you can’t connect successfully, you need to keep adjusting the settings in the Site Setup dialog box until you establish a connection.
STEP 3: Connect to the remote server
The Test button in the Site Setup dialog box does not actually “connect” you to the remote server. Once you know the connection works, you just need to do that manually in Dreamweaver.
- In the Files panel make sure your new local site is showing.
- Click the Connect to Remote Host button in the Files panel.
- The connection icon should turn green, indicating that you have an active connection.
STEP 4: Get the remote files
Once you’re connected, you can get (literally transfer) copies of the files that are on the web to your local computer.
- In the Files panel, click the Expand to Show Local and Remote Sites icon.
Doing this expands the Files panel so that you can see both the remote site and the local site simultaneously. The remote site appears on the left side of the Expanded Files panel; your local site files appear on the right.
- Select the files in the remote site that you want to get. Usually, if you need to get an entire site, you select the directory that holds all of the site files. (You can click on the below image to expand it.)
- Press the Get button and wait for the remote files to download to the local version of the site on your computer.
Once you have the files on your local computer, you can edit them in Dreamweaver. You can then repost the new versions of the files back to the server, or you can set up another remote site in relation to this same local directory, and post the edited files to a different server entirely.