Microsoft Goes After Adobe

By Darryl K.  |  Posted 2006-10-10 Print this article Print

Formerly noncommittal Microsoft has come out swinging in relation to Adobe Systems with a video that compares Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 to Adobe's Dreamweaver 8.

However, it's something of an apples-to-pears or an oranges-to-lemons comparison, in that Visual Studio is an all-purpose integrated development environment and Dreamweaver, although it has IDE capabilities, is primarily known as a design tool.

And despite its being a design tool, both professional developers and end users use Dreamweaver daily. Grady Booch, chief scientist of IBM's Rational division, told me Dreamweaver is a part of his everyday tool set, and some of my reporter colleagues also use it daily.

Still, Microsoft has produced a video comparison entitled "101 Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Features Compared to Adobe Dreamweaver 8," and as the introduction on the Microsoft Web page describing the video says, "The gloves come off in this feature by feature video comparison of Visual Studio 2005 and Dreamweaver 8. We'll pull no punches as we take an in-depth look at each winning bout."

However, Microsoft takes into account the Adobe focus on designers and touts its designer-oriented tool set, the Microsoft Expression family of tools.

"Welcome to this comparison of Visual Studio 2005 and Dreamweaver 8," the description of the video says. "Here you have the opportunity to compare features of these products aimed at professional developers. However, Dreamweaver 8 also serves as a tool for professional designers. If you or anyone on your team is a designer, please also explore the designer features of Expression Web Designer."

When Microsoft was in the early stages of working on its Expression tools, the company was very careful about not saying Microsoft was preparing to go head-to-head with Adobe.

Then in July at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston, John Byrum, product manager for the Microsoft Expression tools, said for Microsoft partners who are currently selling Microsoft FrontPage 2003, "which is end-of-lifing," Microsoft Visual Studio or Dreamweaver, "you can cross-sell these Expression products."

Byrum noted that "if you're selling Dreamweaver today, these [Microsoft] tools absolutely compete head-to-head" with the Adobe designer tools.

Microsoft's video compares the two products in 22 different areas, including document windows and panels, code editors, components and toolbox, design notes, help features, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) support, help features, database support, XML and XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations), Web services support, debugging, source control and accessibility regulation compliance.

Neither Microsoft nor Adobe was able to provide a comment on the video before this column was posted.

Regarding the basic IDE capabilities, "Dreamweaver provides a code hints feature," the video said. "Code hints are used to auto-complete code tags, attributes, and values as you type, by providing a drop down list of possible entries. This feature works with HTML and CSS and some, but not all, of the ASP.Net controls. There is no support for code hints in XML or programming languages like Visual Basic or C#."

In the area of debugging support, "Dreamweaver 8 does not have support for debugging server-side code, so troubleshooting pages that include complex logic can be challenging," the video states. But, according to the video, "Visual Studio 2005 allows for a rich debugging environment for several technologies, including JavaScript and server-side code for ASP.Net, which can be written in any .Net language, such as Visual Basic or C#," and Visual Studio also allows for client-side debugging of JavaScript.

Meanwhile, Dreamweaver Version 8 allows developers to create simple server-side code for a variety of technologies, including Microsoft ASP and ASP.Net, as well as ColdFusion, JSP (JavaServer Pages) and PHP, the video said, while Visual Studio 2005 uses ASP.Net Web pages to generate user interfaces in dynamic Web applications. ASP.Net Web pages present information to users in a browser and implement application logic through server-side code that is typically written in Visual Basic or C#.

In the area of Web services consumption, Dreamweaver supports the creation of Web service consumers using Macromedia ColdFusion MX, ASP.Net and JSP, the video said. Consuming a Web service in Visual Studio is "very straightforward," the video said. "In Solution Explorer, reference the context menu of the project and select 'Add Web Reference.' You can then enter a URI reference to the WSDL of the Web service you wish to use."

However, "Dreamweaver 8 does not have support to create server-side solutions to publish Web services," while Visual Studio 2005 allows developers to reference the context menu of a project, select "Add item" and then choose "Web Service" from a list of templates, the video said.

The art on the Web page describing the video depicts a balled fist with the letters "VSDW" written on the knuckles to indicate a bare-knuckled battle Microsoft is inviting Adobe to, pitting Visual Studio against Dreamweaver. And, according to the claims in Microsoft's video, Visual Studio has the tools to win that battle. We'll have to see what the market says.

Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft can be reached at |

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