Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 review: mobile app development, the HTML 5 way

For HTML5 websites and mobile applications, Dreamweaver has the tools to get the job done.

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The App Is Where It's At

The previous version of Dreamweaver allowed users to build mobile applications (in addition to mobile websites), but doing so took some effort: You had to download the Android Software Developer's Kit (SDK) on your own, install it, then tell Dreamweaver where to find it. If you were trying to make an iOS app, you were out of luck, since Apple doesn't make an SDK that runs on Windows. Dreamweaver's templates were few and boring, too.

Some of this has changed for the better. You can now design your app's interface with the help of a new jQuery swatches panel, which lets you specify styles and colors for buttons. You can also build or modify button designs in Adobe FireWorks, which will output browser-specific HTML5 code, if you like, or you can build your own app designs on jQuery Mobile's fantastic ThemeRoller site and download them for use in Dreamweaver CS6.

Once you're happy with your design, open up the new PhoneGap palettes. Last year, Adobe acquired PhoneGap, a company that created a platform for building mobile apps, and as a result, Dreamweaver CS6 has an even stronger PhoneGap tie-in. And instead of your computer building your app, PhoneGap does it for you, on its servers. In one palette, you can log in to your PhoneGap account (you can do so with an Adobe ID), and in another palette, you can specify whether you want to build an app for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, or even Symbian.

Click a button in the PhoneGap Build Service palette to build your app, and when it's done, you can download the app and then upload it to your device(s) manually, if you have appropriate upload utilities. Conveniently, the palette also provides QR codes for each OS build that you can use with QR Code readers to tell your phone to download it.

These are ingenious ways to help you develop phone apps. However, a few things still make this an advanced task. If you want to design iOS apps on your Windows system, you'll still need a $99-per-year Apple Developer account, and you'll need to use a Mac to upload key files to Apple and then download other files. (I found a way to do it on a Windows machine in PhoneGap's community forums; it worked, but it was difficult.) Then you must upload those files to All this is only for development of your app, not for interacting with iTunes. It's important to note that this isn't Adobe's fault; Apple's rigid controls on iOS apps means that PhoneGap is the only way to develop iOS apps on Windows. Apple's rigidity has benefits, too, in that it helps to police iOS apps, so it's hard to criticize Apple.

Other new or improved features: Adobe says FTP performance is improved, and I can confirm that syncing files is quicker. Integration with Adobe Business Catalyst, an online hosting, content management system, and e-commerce service, is now built into Dreamweaver CS6. The service has many useful features, including online form creation and email list maintenance.

Staying Relevant With HTML5

Of all the Creative Suite applications, Dreamweaver CS6 is the one that's stuffed with the most goodies--including new integrated tools and ways to gain access to new online tools. It also stands out as the application in the suite that is growing the most quickly, and it provides the useful features needed to keep up with the exponential creativity that's happening online.

This story, "Adobe Dreamweaver CS6 review: mobile app development, the HTML 5 way" was originally published by PCWorld.

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