Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3

by Stephanie Rewis on April 20, 2008

Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3, the book I co-wrote with Greg Rewis, is finally out. Yes, I know, it was long overdue. I took a picture of it when I finally got to see it at Greg's house (no, my copies haven't arrived yet), so if you'll excuse the exhausted, traipsing around Phoenix all day look on my face, you can see me with the book on Flickr.

Greg and I didn't want to create the same CSS or Dreamweaver book that others have written. Those books are published, are very useful, and if that's what you need buy the appropriate book. Our goal instead was to show how to create standards-based, accessible web layouts using Dreamweaver. It's a myth that you have to hand code to be a real web developer. Is it best to know how to semantically mark up your page? Yes, absolutely. This is a craft and you should know as much as you can about it. Can you hand code within the Dreamweaver environment? Of course you can — I do it all the time. Do you have to? Absolutely not. There are tools within Dreamweaver that make your work faster, and more effective whether you're working in code or design view. If you haven't looked at Dreamweaver since about MX or so, it's come a long way baby!

Chapter 1 is an overall review of important CSS principles that you must understand to create sturdy CSS-based layouts. The project in chapter 3 takes a lovely, nested table-based layout and transforms it to a CSS layout. Each of the remaining four chapters are a full project based on the CSS layouts I wrote for Dreamweaver CS3 – Fixed, Liquid, Elastic and Hybrid. Chapter 6 also uses Spry 1.6 (an upgrade from Adobe Labs for the Spry 1.4 version that ships with Dreamweaver CS3) and takes you through the process of using HTML data sets to create an accessible Ajax gallery — unobtrusive javascript and all. We hope the projects will feel like we're working with you as your personal trainer.

The book is full of CSS tips and techniques. It also teaches a variety of ways to use Dreamweaver CS3. Both Fireworks and Photoshop comps are used and the integration of those programs with Dreamweaver is illustrated.

Our hope is that the techniques taught in the book will make your beautiful designs more solid as well as making you more comfortable with the program used by so many web departments. I use Dreamweaver every day and even I learned some new Dreamweaver tips from Greg! Here's what one reader had to say:

"The first chapter alone was worth it to me. I have a lot of CSS books, tutorial sites, etc. Maybe I'm more familiar after working with it for a while, but for me, this book is as clear as a bell, informative as a book ought to be, and motivational as a hand grenade… made me want to jump up and run like hell… to Dreamweaver to try stuff out."

C. Lindauer

Some of you may have also heard a rumor about the other partnership that came out of writing this book. And to that I say, yes, it's true. Greg and I were engaged (via Twitter) in early March. You can think of the book as our baby. ;)

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Babbage April 23, 2008 at 10:33 am

Way to go, Steph!

Deborah April 23, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Hi Stephanie,

Can’t wait to get my copy of the book! I’ve excited to check it out.

Congrats on the news of your engagement!

Not sure if you remember, but we spoke at Webmaster Jam Session after your session and when we were leaving the hotel for the airport. Which side of the country will you be living?

Robert April 24, 2008 at 12:38 am

I’m a print designer who is trying to move from table-based to CSS layouts in DW CS3, so I bought your fine book. I’m still on chapter 1, but so far it’s been a bit daunting for me (my fault) since I’m a visually-oriented person. For example, I’ve been reading paragraphs multiple times in an attempt to absorb the information. I’m hopeful that chapter 3 will take me to “the promised land” so I will be able to turn my Photoshop designs into CSS pages! Thanks for writing this book…maybe there’s hope for me to learn CSS after all!

Stef. April 27, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Of course I remember you Deb… :) Nice to hear from you and thanks for the congrats!

Stef. April 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Hi Robert… Yes, chapter 1 is a review of the essential (in our opinion) principles to understand to build solid CSS layouts. In fact, whole books are written on the subjects there. We were hoping it would “fill in the missing pieces” for people if there were things they didn’t understand – so that they could refer back as needed.

That said, I think it might be best after completing Chapter one, to move right to chapter two. It is the simplest chapter in the book (as far as the projects go)… As you run into terms you don’t understand, go _back_ to chapter one and read the portion about it there. Perhaps the repetition of reading it again, while doing a project will make it more clear. :)

Chapter three takes an existing site and turns it into a CSS layout — so it’s more about a “transformation” than a “build.”

Feel free to use the form on the book site to contact us and let us know how it’s going. :)

Robin (from Fresno) April 30, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Hi Stef … The book has proved invaluable so far … I needed to develop elastic layouts for a client and used your chapter, along with the starter page(s), as tools. I’ve acquired some pretty inefficient habits over the years … I was unaware of some of the shortcuts and “tools” DW has to offer that were pointed out in the book! It was well worth the wait (let’s see, I pre-ordered last June …)! and congrats again on your engagement.

Stef. May 1, 2008 at 1:11 am

Hi Robin! Yes, last June… that’s just plain sad, isn’t it. ;)

We really WANTED to do it by July, but with all the travel and speaking — and then I AM a real web developer too! It was just difficult. (Also, Spry 1.6 was released and chapter 6 is SO much better for the waiting!)

Anyway, glad it’s giving you some new tips and pointers (I mentioned in the beginning of the book that I actually learned some new things from Greg about DW while editing. Heh. We get stuck in ruts, don’t we?). We really wanted it to be worthwhile for people.

Ciao… Maybe I’ll see you at MAX again. :)

Deborah May 1, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Hi Stef,

My book is on the way. A question for you, I haven’t seen any mention of TODCON on the CMX blog. I visited the conference site today, and it looks like there are some great sessions. It will be hard to choose between the two tracks.

Do you know if any of the sessions will be discussing PDF files? I saw there were accessibility sessions, but wondered if the focus was website pages, or other files as well. At my work, I’ve been tasked with developing guidelines for creating accessible, usable PDF files.

Stef. May 2, 2008 at 2:25 am

Hi Deb… I worked on updating the TODCon site today (which I’ve been unable to upload due to some FTP issues I hope to iron soon).

I don’t RECALL any PDF accessibility sessions. But honestly, I’m so tired right now, I could have missed it. Check the site tomorrow — I will somehow get it uploaded then. :)

Deborah Edwards-Onoro May 3, 2008 at 8:41 am

Hi Stef,

Yesterday I heard about the Voices that Matter conference in Nashville, and noticed that Community MX partner Zoe Gillenwater will speak at the conference, along with other interesting speakers.

So, now I’m really torn between which conference to attend, TODCon or Voices that Matter.

Two great conferences, but only money and time to go to one!

Little Boxer May 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Hi there,

ordered your book today from, because at (for Germany) it currently is 49,90 €, which means 76,96 US$ :-O in your currency.

With my order at I have to pay 26,98 €/ 41,61 US$ “only” (international shipping included). Please tell this to your German fans ;-) .

All the best!

Stef. May 4, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Deb… Voices that Matter is a great conference as well (I spoke at the one last fall, but had a schedule conflict this time – headed from Orlando to Sydney to speak at Web Down Under).

The focus of the two is different in my opinion. TODCon does have some accessibility/usability sessions (note Derek Featherstone and Robert Hoekman, Jr) but has many more sessions related to Adobe-based products. There’s also a track on the business side of the web on Day 2. So it just depends on what you’d like to learn. :)

Stef. May 5, 2008 at 3:35 am

@Little Boxer – wow! I will try to get the word out. I wonder if that’s a mistake though. $49.90 is the US price — and I would think that in Euro, it would be different! Do you usually see this much of a difference in book prices? If not, I’ll let our publisher know and see if we can get it fixed. Thanks!

Little Boxer May 5, 2008 at 5:32 am


yes, there are many examples with other English books at and for this.

(One is “Dreamweaver CS3 – The Missing Manual: .com/44,99 US$ -> .de/44,99 €)

I think it has to do with the current exchange rate between US$ and € (a “strong” Euro in comparison to a “weak” US Dollar). So books, originally released in English and the U.S., sometimes can become relatively expensive here in Germany…

Don R May 15, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Hi Stef! Congrats on the Book and the hitching to come!

Another book I Must add to my collection. (I’ll try to actually READ this one!)


Don “The Weather Guy”

(Remember me, that guy you met in the hotel lounge at CMX Chicago.) ;-)

Don R May 15, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Oh, yeah… I wanted to add… you guys look very “Avenger”-ish… cool cover photo!

Don “The Weather Guy”

Stef. May 16, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Hi Don – YES, I do remember you. :) Good to “see” you here. LOL

Avengerish – hah! Haven’t heard that one before. Though we have been accused of being Scully and Mulder or Secret Agents. And well, I mean this web stuff is serious business. Us Web folk SHOULD be action heros! LMAO

Hope you enjoy the book. :)


Edward Smart June 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

It really is an awesome book and has cleared up so much confusing stuff for me. THANK YOU AND GREG SO MUCH! At last, a book that makes sense out of CSS!

Stef. June 27, 2008 at 10:23 am

Hi Edward… I’m happy to hear it’s just what you needed. :) Music to my ears. You can contact me from the book’s download site if you have any specific questions along the way. I try to answer as quickly as possible. :)

Happy coding,


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