Meet Dreamweaver’s Extended Family

Okay, I’ll confess. I’m a Dreamweaver extension junkie. I’ve long admired the foresight and effort invested by Dreamweaver engineers to make the core functionality of the program both customizable and extensible in recognition of the ever-evolving needs of web designers and developers. And boy, did that effort ever pay off! Thousands of Dreamweaver enhancements have been created by a global community, pretty much from the initial launch of the program. To give you an idea of what’s possible—and who’s behind those possibilities—I decided to profile three of the major companies in the Dreamweaver extension biz: DMXzone, Project Seven and WebAssist.

Full disclosure: I’ve known all the developers covered in this article for many years, worked for a couple of them, and probably had a drink or two with them as well. Before we dive into their particular offerings, let’s take a quick look at what the mothership has up in the cloud creative.

Adobe Creative Cloud Add-Ons for Dreamweaver

Adobe Add-Ons is now the official outlet for Dreamweaver extensions. These add-ons are installed and managed via the Creative Cloud interface – you can learn how to install extensions for Dreamweaver CC here. Adobe Add-ons features a range of both commercial and free extensions, over 300 strong. All manner of Dreamweaver enhancements are available, from insert objects like the HTML5 Audio Player from Solutions4Websites.com to server-side components such as Linecraft Studio’s PHP Captcha.

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In addition to carrying extensions from all the major companies covered in this article, you’ll also find work by other developers including DwZone, Yosmany Saez/CodePeople, and ExtendStudio.

Weaving Dreams with DMXzone

DMXzone has a birthday coming up: in February, 2016, this Holland-based company celebrates its 15th year as a Dreamweaver extension developer. Started—and still led—by programmer George Petrov, DMXzone began life as the first major international Dreamweaver community, UDZone (anyone else remember Macromedia UltraDev, Dreamweaver’s server-side alter-ego?).

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DMXzone is a truly international company, reaching Dreamweaver designers and coders in the US, Europe, and the Pacific Rim and offering free support via live chat and email. With an office in Bulgaria as well as The Netherlands, George and his team have developed 100+ Dreamweaver extensions over the years. Their very first extension was Pure ASP Upload which lives on today in its 3rd major version with up-to-the-minute capabilities such as mobile upload, Ajax and HTML5 support.

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DMXzone ties all their extensions together with the excellent DMXzone Extension Manager for Dreamweaver. This free add-on can install extensions from a range of previous versions of Dreamweaver up to the most current. And talk about playing nice with others, their extension manager works with most extensions, including those from other companies.

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DMXzone publishes extensions to enhance both client-side and server-side operations. On the client-side, the DMXzone Bootstrap extensions have been among their most popular. Now that Dreamweaver CC integrates Bootstrap itself, future versions of this add-on series “will focus on the visual designer,” according to George. On the server-side, they continues to innovate with the recently introduced DMXzone Server Connect and line of related extensions. Designed to replace Dreamweaver’s deprecated server behaviors, this modern workflow integrates Ajax for updating data on an as-needed, partial page refresh basis, through a visual programming environment with no coding required.

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Want to create a mobile app in Dreamweaver? DMXzone has you covered. The DMXzone Cordova Builder leverages Apache Cordova through an amazingly powerful command-line interface to generate native iOS, Android, Windows Phone and other mobile platform apps—right in Dreamweaver. Need some properly styled content for that app, optimized for mobile? Check out the DMXzone Visual App Designer for Framework 7 to output standardized apps based on HTML5, JavaScript and CSS that look and behave like any written in lower-level languages like C++.

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Project Seven = Web Designer Heaven

You know the cliché of long-time friends working together to build a highly successful tech company? For Gerry Jacobsen and Al Sparber, that cliché is the Project Seven reality, making Dreamweaver users ecstatic with their extensions since 1998. With around 100 Dreamweaver-based products under their collective belts, Project Seven counts organizations such as NASA and the FBI in their customer base as well as a mix of independent web designers and site creators.

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Project Seven (aka PVII) primarily focuses on extensions that improve client-side functionality and enhance design-time productivity. Web site navigation systems—increasingly complex and difficult to code—are among their forte, with the PVII Slide Out Menu Builder one of the most popular. Slide out menus are a great solution for today’s mobile-ready responsive navigation challenges. With Slide Out Menu Builder, you can quickly craft multi-tiered menus that smoothly glide from left or right. Tab a navigation link to scroll to a selected anchor—and then hide the menu automatically. Nice!

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Modal pop-up windows—used for displaying images or videos from a gallery as well as extended HTML content—are a webpage mainstay made easier (and way cooler) by another Project Seven product, Magic Box. In addition to quickly adding captions, descriptions, player controls, and CSS styling, Magic Box output is fully responsive and mobile ready, capable of handling both mixed size and mixed orientation imagery. If you’ve ever tried coding the JavaScript yourself to achieve this level of sophistication, you’ll recognize that there are masters at work here.

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During our discussion, Al Sparber offered a sneak peak of an up-coming product,  Layout Builder Magic. According to Al, this new tool “will allow creation and management of very complex CSS layouts, without the need for the many thousands of lines of CSS required by Bootstrap.” Layout Builder Magic provides a powerful graphic user interface for creating and editing page layout, as well as controlling key style attributes (color, background, padding, font properties). Layout Builder Magic was recently released and is now available.

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Wowing ’em with WebAssist

“The majority of our customers are designers who want to learn PHP while building great websites quickly and easily,” said Ray Borduin, President of WebAssist. WebAssist had its beginnings creating extensions for Drumbeat, a popular server-side site builder—which was snapped up by Macromedia and incorporated into Dreamweaver (there’s that Dreamweaver UltraDev again!). Over the years, the company, now based in San Diego, has developed a wide spectrum of Dreamweaver tools, as well as several standalone PHP apps – that happen to integrate effortlessly into Dreamweaver.

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WebAssist’s Dreamweaver product line currently consists of about 40 extensions, available in three bundles: Design Extender, Data Bridge and MySQLi Server Behaviors. As you might suspect, Design Extender is client-side oriented and design-focused: great for static sites. It also includes PowerCMS Builder for straight-forward content management, so your clients can update their own content right in the browser or via the sophisticated admin interface.

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Data Bridge is all about building database-driven websites. This WebAssist suite provides all the tools you’ll need to authenticate users, set up administrative backends, populate content dynamically, send email, protect pages from unauthorized visitors, set-up validating forms and enable uploading and downloading of any digital file.

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If you’re hankering for a little more structure in your sites, you’ve got to check out Framework Builder, included in both Design Extender and Data Bridge. This WebAssist add-on takes Dreamweaver templates to the next level with WordPress theme-based structuring. The Framework Builder Plug-In feature brings added customizable power to the server-side include concept, automatically managed and dynamically updated.

For those who miss the clarity of the old Dreamweaver server behaviors but don’t want to get burned by the coming MySQL deprecation, take a look at WebAssist MySQLi Server Behaviors. This bundle includes replacements for every previously available Dreamweaver server behavior, now upgraded to output MySQLi compliant code. Repeat regions, insert/update/delete records, recordset paging, show if regions, user authentication—it’s all there. Want more? Visually create your SQL statements with the included MySQLi Query Builder.

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In addition to these full-to-the-brim suites, WebAssist boasts it’s flagship eCommerce offering, eCart. A full-fledged shopping cart, eCart manages discounts, taxes, shipping, coupons and much more with grace. The most recent version handles subscriptions and recurring payments as well as standard purchases. Support for PayPal, as well as many popular payment gateways like Authorize.net and WorldPay, is built-in and easily configured for both local (customers stay on your site throughout) or remote (checkout is completed on the gateway’s site).

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Extending infinitely

The power and flexibility touched upon here is really just a small part of what Dreamweaver makes possible, thanks to it’s inherent extensibility. Of course, no API in the world is worth anything if no-one uses it. An equally vital aspect of Dreamweaver’s add-on potential are the people who dedicate their time and efforts to bring these extensions to life.  So, in closing, in addition to tipping my hat multiple times to those companies (and the staff behind them) mentioned in this post, let me give a shout out to just a few of the many others Dreamweaver extension developers in this woefully incomplete and wildly personal list: Angela Buraglia, Lawrence Cramer, Massimo Foti, Tom Muck, Trent Pastrana, Jaro von Flocken, Ray West, Andrew Wooldridge and Eduordo Zubler—among many, many others. Thank you all for extending your helping hand to Dreamweaver users everywhere.

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  • Great article Joe. I hope Adobe management reads it :-;)

  • Ten years ago I built my first ASP Web Application after reading Dreamweaver 8 Recipes. How time flies … Thanks Joseph Lowery!!!

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      Wow – that takes me back! I co-wrote Dreamweaver 8 Recipes with Eric Ott, then president of WebAssist who tragically passed away, way too soon. The code master behind the scenes for those recipes was Ray Borduin, now the WA president, interviewed above. Plus… ASP! We actually did two versions of ASP (VBScript and JavaScript) for all the recipes in that book, along with PHP and ColdFusion – all of which Dreamweaver supported back then.

  • Thank you for this curated list of add-ons providers. One of them managed to fly under my radar. Until now.

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      Glad I could help, Julien! I think they are all worth a tour to see what’s available, as well as searching the Adobe Add-Ons, to make your coding life easier.

  • Nikolaos Beligiannis says:

    Great article. I am an extensive user of DMXzone & Webassist tools for 10+ now. Regardless of what people might think, these are tools that help a developer produce great custom results faster. They have nothing to do with laziness of the ‘No coding required’ phrase. Of course you can use their ‘ready-made’ solutions and produce great results extremely fast, but the true greatness of these products is that they take your coding skills 10x up. The better coder you are the more you get from these products. All these years I created extremely custom database driven websites using the tools provided by DMXzone & Webassist for small & very big companies. Websites that competitors were charging 10x more to build. They both produce clean code that you can customize. The better you know to hand code the more you can get from them. Investing my money & countless amount of time learning and using them, all these years, was a decision I will never regret. The best of DMXzone & Webassist products is that can be integrated inside your custom website. They are not just a ‘closed box’ of functions or front end effects. They can completely adapt on your custom database, on your custom functionality. Both companies offer great support in cases things go wrong. Keep advancing your coding skills, add DMX & Webassist magic and you will be a top class, custom websites developer, that is very hard to compete.

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      That was an extremely thoughtful and well-put comment, Nikolaos! I echo and agree with all of your sentiments – and, only have to note that everything you said about the extensions you’re familiar with from DMXzone and WebAssist is also true of those from Project Seven.

  • Marcellino Bommezijn says:

    Great tools….back in around 2005. I have used them all to build dynamic websites. I can remember Dreamweaver Ultradev 4 was the coolest piece of software around in the days.
    I am still surprised that they exist and lot’s of people use them (apparently).
    With CMS tools like WordPress i can’t imagine people still use the Dreamweaver method and all it’s extensions. It strikes me as a waist of time if you can choose WordPress as a full-featured CMS.

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      Web site authoring is a big ship, with room for developers like you who would prefer to work with WordPress and room for others who prefer more targeted solutions, like Dreamweaver extensions. I, myself, go back-and-forth between the two approaches, depending on what the demands of the site. Another factor–that I’ve heard from a number of quarters–is that some Dreamweaver users like the ability to review the actual advanced code to see how a particular task is accomplished, something that many extensions provide. Whatever the reason, as you note many designer/developers still find Dreamweaver add-ins extremely beneficial.

    • Nikolaos Beligiannis says:

      Hi there. Well is a bit unfair to judge Dreamweaver CC and extensions of 2016 based on your fresh and extensive, as I can understand, experience of WordPress(WP) usage from 2016 & your good old memories of Dreamweaver(DW) usage back from 2005. Especially when this is almost the time (2005-2016) where enormous changes happened in web development , web design and general purpose of a website as a tool for a business. It would be a surprise for me too if someone was still using Dreamweaver Ultradev 4 now. Furthermore I can’t see why someone would compare a GREAT open source CMS with a totally custom web development approach. WP is a TOP quality CMS used by thousands of people and DW is a software for building something from scratch (used by thousands of people too). Talking about DW extensions & WP here, imagine that there is an extension that builds WP themes inside DW. And you don’t even need an extension to build a custom WP theme or plugin inside DW. It is just that a good extension (like the ones mentioned here by Joseph) generally helps you reduce time and eventually costs. Check my comment on this article if you like (http://www.creativebloq.com/adobe/dreamweaver-web-design-tool-121518352). You will find a video that shows how well DW can help you write custom code for WP. You will also find some other interesting comments too on why WP & DW can not & should not be compared.

      In addition, the fact that someone uses DW to build websites or apps does not mean that he excludes WP as an option when she/he decides how she/he will approach a project. There are thousands high quality and very successful websites made with WP, Joomla, Drupal etc, as there are very profitable & successful ones made with DW. Others create really profitable online businesses with services like Adobe Business Catalyst or even WIX. It all depends on the situation, like Joseph mentions, and the decision on which tool to pick is not a boolean 0 or 1. I bet you are a top WP user and you can extend it and customize it in a way that you always meet client’s exact expectations, and that is great for you. Is your workflow and that is great. I work with Joomla & WP when needed. But from my experience, when creating custom solutions, a minor tweak in a custom approach could be a pain to make on a ready made CMS. This of course does not mean it can not be done. With a ready made CMS you reach on a high quality result very fast with almost 0 developing time and almost for free (if it is open source), but then you have to follow a very strict path (the CMS way of working) in order to make customizations and this is sometimes painful and costly.

      From the feedback I am getting all these years of developing, generally, clients are more happy when they get custom made stuff. For example custom admin areas that are adapted on their business needs (custom database with custom admin actions that doing very concrete things your client needs). With a ready made CMS you usually approach each project more or less the same way which means that, her/his business way of doing has to adapt on the CMS and that your client needs to ‘learn’ the CMS. And most of the times clients want to avoid this hassle. With a custom approach you create admin areas that are based on their way of doing business and they adore it. So in most of the cases they get extreme value from this, because you take the learning hassle from them and you transform it into a benefit. It is priceless.(Of course here someone can say that a ready made CMS can completely be changed and do very concrete things. But I wouldn’t understand why someone would install, WP for example, with the default database structure to then completely alter it. It wouldn’t make sense).

      A good DW extension, like these mentioned here and some more, help you minify the time of reaching this kind of customization while keeping costs down.

      PS. I am not saying that using DW and DW extensions is the only way of reaching this level of custom quality, online projects, relatively fast. There are virtually infinite options online (both free and commercial), but here we are talking about DW extensions and it would be out of the topic to mention any other valuable tools for custom web development.

  • Webassist and P7 are go to extensions.

  • DMX Zone is also valuable. And one not mentioned here is Extend Studio. Some clever solutions there too. http://www.extendstudio.com

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      I actually did mention Extend Studio, Patrice, as one of the extension developers available in Adobe Add-Ons. Admittedly, it was the briefest of mentions and I didn’t have a direct link, so thanks for that!

  • I’ve tried all of the listed producers extensions and DMXzone ones are the best so far.

  • Great article. Thank you. I use PVII products and I am totally satisfied with it. On top of the excellent products, they offer free support and run a discussion forum where you can get advice too.

  • Products from P7 are excellent with good support.

    Only ever tried DMXZone once, had problems from start and had to resort to PayPal to get refund – company really didn’t care or want to help.

    Never heard of Web Assist before now but had a look and trialing one of there extensions – looking promising.

    • Dear Mandarin, we are very sorry that you had this experience. It would never be our intention to give you the idea that we don’t care or don’t want to help you out. Not sure when this happened, but if you are still working with Dreamweaver, please reach out to our Live Support on http://www.dmxzone.com, so we can help you out directly and give you the support you need.

  • Joseph, thank you for the excellent article! We are thrilled to see so many positive reactions regarding Dreamweaver extensions. This only motivates us to keep getting better at what we do and to give our users the best possible Dreamweaver experience.

  • The list looks incomplete when other big players, such as Ajatix and Extend Studio are not mentioned
    Ajatix http://www.ajatix.com have a pretty impressive set of client-side solutions and their extensions have always been among the most popular ones on Adobe Exchange and Adobe Add-ons. In my work I mostly use Ajatix extensions (their Lightbox is the best, responsive menus, etc.) and DMXzone (mega menu and such).

    • Joseph Lowery says:

      When it comes to Dreamweaver extensions, the more the merrier! As I noted in an earlier comment, I did mention Extend Studio – however, Ajatix is new to me. Glad to hear you’ve found their work useful; I’ll have to give them a look-see.

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