Although you are capable of creating and editing HTML pages without defining a site, it’s crucial that you learn this process in order to work effectively with Dreamweaver. Without defining a site you loose the ability of many of Dreamweaver’s key features such as the ability to easily apply images, styles, and other site assets as well as FTP’ing of your site. After all, this is web page design, what would it be if we couldn’t upload our files to a web site? It’s easy to be intimidated by defining a site and FTP’ing a site. However, it’s not a difficult process at all, which usually only takes a matter of a few minutes to set up.
Prior to starting a new site in Dreamweaver you should always begin by defining your site settings. In the site settings you will be able to change features such as the location of your local root directory (where your site files are stored on your computer), your default images directory, and FTP information. It’s important that you understand that your site settings and login information will remain in Dreamweaver on the computer you use to set up the settings unless you remove the settings. Also, if you choose to work at a different computer you will need to either redefine the settings or import the site settings at the new location where you will be working on your site.
Site Definition: Basic vs. Advanced View
The first step when defining a site should be deciding whether you choose to use the “Basic” view mode or “Advanced". In Basic view you will be asked a number of questions, and fill out necessary information, depending upon your answers. It’s easy for a beginner to get confused with the questions asked and overlook important information. It is suggested that you use Advanced mode and complete the settings as outlined in this documentation. You set whether you wish to use Basic or Advanced mode at the top of the Site definition dialogue box. If you make a mistake entering information, don’t stress, you can always come back to edit this information.
Local vs. Remote: What’s the difference?
So, what’s the big deal in understanding local vs. remote? Misunderstanding could lead to you accidentally making crucial mistakes such as overwriting files either onto your computer or onto the server. Local view refers to what is on your “local” computer. Remote view refers to what is on the server you will be FTP’ing to. When you are in the site definition dialogue box the two settings you will learn to edit, and must know in order to define & FTP your site are located in the local & remote info tabs on the right of the dialogue box.
As previously described, local info refers to what is on your computer. Therefore, in the local info section of the site setting dialogue box you must declare where your files are so that dreamweaver can find all of the files needed to create your site.
Your site name can be anything you choose, you must give your site a name when declaring it. The significance of the “site name” is that if you happen to create numerous web sites over time you will refer to the site name when accessing site files and editing site info. So it is suggested you create a unique name that you will instantly remember what site it is associated with.
Local Root Folder: What is a Root folder?
A root folder is the directory or folder your entire site is located within. It’s important that you choose the root folder when defining your site, if not, you may not have access to all of your files. To set what your root folder is you may click on the folder icon and specify the folder location.
Refreshing Local File List Automatically
This check box is checked by default, and it is suggested that you leave it checked. By leaving it checked it will automatically refresh your list of images and assets if you happen to make changes to any files while developing your site.
Default Images Folder
As you create your site you should always have a primary images folder within your root directory. To set your default images folder you may click on the folder icon and specify the folder location.
Your HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) Address should be completed if you will be FTP’ing your site. It is primarily used by the link checking feature in dreamweaver.
By default, Dreamweaver enables the cache for your site. This allows dreamweaver to access all of your files contained in your root directory so that you may use them during the development of your site.
If you plan to FTP your site to a server you must complete the Remote info so that Dreamweaver can connect to your server.
In order to have FTP access you must select “FTP” from the Access Drop down menu. If you do not select FTP you will not have any of the FTP options appear.
This is the Host used to FTP your site, generally, it is your site name (i.e. www.valenciawebstudio.com). There should not be “http://” before your FTP host.
This enables you to upload files to a specific directory in your site. If you plan to access your root directory it should be left blank.
Your login is the same as your username. Your login is case sensitive.
Your password is also case sensitive. You may choose to save it so that dreamweaver can automatically connect to the server when you tell it to do so. You may choose against this if you are working in a public setting, such as a computer lab.
Be sure to make a note of the following:
HTTP ADDRESS: http://www.valenciawebstudio.com
FTP HOST: www.valenciawebstudio.com
HOST DIRECTORY: For exercises it will be ex followed by the number of the exercise (for example: ex1, ex2, ex3, etc.) For projects the host directory will be the letter p followed by the number of the project (For example: p1, p2, p3, etc.)
If you have to edit site settings, remove a site, or export/import site settings you may simply “edit” your site settings. All of your site’s defined in Dreamweaver will appear in this list.
Exporting A Site
If you ever need to work on a computer at another location than where you originally started you may export your site settings and take them with you so that you don’t have to redefine all of your settings. When you define a site in Dreamweaver it only stays with the computer you used to define the settings, unless you export your settings and reimport them at your new location. To export a site simply select
“export” from the edit sites dialogue box.
Export settings: Backing up or sharing?
When you select to export your site settings you are prompted with adialogue box asking you whether you want to back up your settings or share your settings with others. Backing up your settings allows you to save your login, password, and local paths. By sharing your settings you do not share this info with others, but your other site settings are exported.
When you export your site you are prompted to save a .STE file. The .STE file contains all of your site settings and generally it is good practice to save it within your root directory so that it is easily accessible.
Importing A Site
To import a site, select “import” from the edit sites dialogue box. You will then locate where the .STE file is located. Once located, Dreamweaver will create a new cache for your site.
If you've set your FTP preferences in dreamweaver you will be able to connect to your server and upload files. It's important that you get familiar with the files panel and all the features that are available to you.
You may find it easier to use expanded view to transfer files back and forth to a server. The "expand" icon can offer you an expanded view of files on your computer and server, or you may choose to collapse back to the default one column view. To transfer files to the server you must first connect (using the plug icon). Then select files in local view (remember, local view is what's on your computer). When you're ready to upload choose to "put" the files onto the server. Dreamweaver will then transfer your files from your computer to the server.