First off, I’m not a techie, so please read my comments in that context. I am basically technologically literate, and I love to play and tinker with techie toys, but I do not live, breathe, or speak “tech geek,” as is, I’m sure, about to become painfully obvious. 

I’m in the middle of trying to design a website for my Capstone portfolio, which is to demonstrate my “mastery of the SLIM program’s ‘Outcomes and Values’.” Finding the “artifacts” (papers, presentations, etc.) that demonstrate my (relative) mastery of each individual value turned out to be the easy part. Designing a web portfolio that showcased these artifacts in an easy-to-navigate, aesthetically pleasing way…not so easy.

As I’m very much not a website designer, I decided that my best route would be to find some free templates that I could manipulate in Dreamweaver MX 2004, giving, of course, credit to the original designer. After a digg search for “Dreamweaver templates,” my first “hit” was for Aptana, a product similar to Dreamweaver, but open-source and free of charge. However, as I thought I’d already decided upon Dreamweaver to manipulate the given templates, I moved on. I came up with several websites (openwebdesign.org and opendesigns.org, which have a few overlapping templates) that seemed to fit the bill. 

 Upon opening several chosen templates in Dreamweaver, however, I noticed that they weren’t displaying properly. And it wasn’t just one template, it was all of them. Since many of them had custom-designed Flash buttons included as part of the package, I assumed that this was the problem (as that was largely the part of the website that was displaying all sorts of wonky) and, after a few clumsy attempts to fix it, promptly gave up.

Curious, and frustrated with my inability to get Dreamweaver to do what I wanted, I decided to see how Aptana would fare with my chosen templates. I downloaded the application for Windows, which went relatively smoothly, and I figured out how to open the templates quickly. The source code displayed, I made a few modifications to the display elements, hit the “Run Configuration” button to display the site, and…voila! The site displayed exactly as it had when I viewed the template initially, including the changes that I’d made to the code. Additionally, I noticed that as I moused over different elements of the source code (title, content, href), I received a brief pop-up explanation of the element’s function (ex: href’s “pop-up” stated that it was the “path or URL for the linked object or document”). How cool is that? And that’s just after five minutes of just playing around, not messing with the documentation or anything!

Take this with a gigantic block of salt, as I am about as far away from a Dreamweaver expert as you can get, and I’m even farther away from being an Aptana expert. However, I am impressed with my five-minute tinkering.

 More updates later, so you’ll know if the bloom stays or fades on my newest “rose.” 🙂

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