Setting up a new Dreamweaver site project can be quite a chore. Sure, you have the FTP/SSH info for your host on hand, a URL you can hit in a browser, and a shrinking deadline (who doesn’t these days?), but building robust sitewide designs and the directory structure that houses them can require a huge amount of preplanning and headwork to do well. Just getting that ‘clickable site framework’ up and live can be a major undertaking, especially with clients breathing down your neck.
Joe Lowery from WebAssist just gave me a demo of their newest solution to this problem- SiteAssist Professional (a ground-up rewrite of their popular SiteAssist Dreamweaver extension) – that can have you up and running with a robust, CSS-based framework for your site in roughly 8 mouse clicks (and probably a few keystrokes too, but who’s counting) that will look great on any modern web browser. To get started with a new site project, the SiteAssist Pro wizard will step you through:
- Configuring your general site settings
- Selecting a layout option
- Configuring pages and navigation (essentially setting up the heirarchy and architecture of your site)
- Configuring the site footer
- Output options
… after which you should be up and live with a clickable, functional Dreamweaver site you can then flesh out and customize to the nth degree. If that ‘blank canvas’ problem faces you regularly with new client projects, SiteAssist looks to be a great way to kick out the logistical jams and get rolling fast.
Reusability is a key with SiteAssist- aside from the many great visual/functional/site-level presets available, you can easily save new custom site types (with their own specific collection of page types) as well as quickly apply new designs. Page types are great ways to save and encapsulate common page-specific functionality – like a detail page, a contact form, a video player page, etc – and then reuse them across all your projects in a design-neutral fashion. Clientside and server-side functionality can be partitioned off and saved this way- a real productivity boost if you’re managing a lot of projects in Dreamweaver.
Layout and design is equally flexible- aside from shipping with 16 beautifully-designed native templates you can use to kickstart the process, SiteAssist Pro now works with your existing Dreamweaver templates- making it that much easier to integrate SiteAssist Pro into your existing site designs and workflows. SiteAssist Pro also supports exported layouts from their popular CSS Sculptor product (developed with CSS guru Eric Meyer) and custom page types that allow you to quickly define standard functionality and common design themes for your site. Interoperability appears to be a key feature of the release, it also works seamlessly with the WebAssist’s CSS MenuWriter menu generation extension.
SiteAssist Pro is a commercial extension- $199.99 but available thru September 9th for a reduced $149.99 – and you can get more information on it at the WebAssist site: