FREE! Dreamweaver/Ultradev - Server (Binding) Formats
by Chris Charlton

Normally your dynamic data consists of text but easily could be dates, time, numbers, prices, or even a common hyperlink. Reguardless of what server language and database you use, there always will come a need to alter the display of your data that comes in.

Almost everything I cover in this article stays within the Dreamweaver interface and brings out a highly underutilized feature of Dreamweaver/Ultradev - Server (Binding) Formats. There is more mouse usage than keyboard action in this article.

This article will take you through the history and basics of Server Formats and will take you through two mini-projects showing how Server Formats not only save us time - but saves you from headaches!

What are Server (Binding) Formats?

Macromedia's Dreamweaver documentation states Server Formats “enhance the display of dynamic data.” Additionally, they say “Server Formats let you apply different types of numerical, monetary, date/time, and percentage values to dynamic text.” Those statements definitely misrepresent what Server Formats are and especially how useful they really are! Here's my rendition of what the documentation should say... Server Formats help to:

1.    Stylize your dynamic data (not to be confused with CSS styling).
2.    Automatically add numerical or textual values to your dynamic data.

Experimenting is fun

I don’t have to tell you that if you don’t like a Server Format that a swift click of the mouse and it can be changed or removed entirely (“None”). Pratically all are self explanitory, but I suggest you play with them all when you can. Download as many as you can - they really rock!

Customizing and making your own Server Formats

In a way, I can’t say that I saved the best for last because most Server Format extensions you download generally cover most of our needs - but of course, the cool people at Macromedia have implimented ways for you to not only make your own Server Formats but expand or edit the ones you have installed in your Dreamweaver.


At the bottom of your Server Formats list there is “Edit Format List...” for you to get wild and crazy with.

Now here’s where you add, edit, or delete any of your Server Formats. I don’t want to mislead you to think you can code your own wild formats here, but what you can do is add an alternate version of what’s installed already.

You want to have your own number format? Instead of coding from scratch, Dreamweaver has the base functions for its installed Server Formats so you create a new format alternate. Remember, no coding is fun for productivity!

1.    Click the + (plus) sign in the Edit Format List dialog, and choose Number to start your own number format.


2.    Now choose what option for your custom alternate Server Format and click OK.

3.    By default, Dreamweaver names the our new alternate Server Format as “Number - Untitled1”...

...so let’s name our alternate Server Format something like “Number - My Number Format.”



4.    Now, highlight any dynamic element and open the Server Format list, and bangour custom Server Format is listed at the bottom, just like we named it!

Summary

We saw how some terms can cause minor confusion when trying to describe something. Reguardless of whatever term is used to describe Server Formats, our productivity is worth its weight in gold, er, clicks.

By showing you the most common scenarios to use Server Formats, we easily acknowledge them becoming some of our best friends in Dreamweaver, but nothing replaces knowing inner workings of why and how these things work. We also saw how quick and easy it is to expand on the Server Formats installed.

As always, take pride in your projects, keep your self knowledgable, and never think any question is lame.

Server Format extension links

As always, DMXzone.com carries hundreds of extensions for both Dreamweaver MX/MX2004 and Ultradev, and of course, Macromedia’s Exchange – www.macromedia.com/exchange/ is the cream-of-the-crop for hundreds of more extensions.


Dreamweaver MX/MX2004 Server Format Extensions:

PHP

·       Server Formats for DWMX (PHP MySQL)

·       PHP Server Formats

ASP

·       ServerFormatStudio

ColdFusion/JSP

·       At the time of the writing please reference Macromedia Exchange

Ultradev Server Format Extensions:

PHP

·       ServerFormatStudioPHP

ASP

·       Charon Server Formatting Suite

·       ServerFormatStudio

·       Messenger Smilies

ColdFusion/JSP

·       At the time of the writing please reference Macromedia Exchange

Chris Charlton

Chris CharltonChris, Los Angeles' CSS & ActionScript guru, successfully cannonballed into web development in the late 90's. Always caught up with the latest in Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and XML, Chris authored premium articles for the largest Dreamweaver/Flash community (www.DMXzone.com) and produced WebDevDesign (iTunes featured), a popular Web Design & Development Podcast. Somewhere, Chris finds time to run an authorized Adobe user group focused around open source and Adobe technologies. Being a big community leader, Chris Charlton remains a resident faculty member of the Rich Media Insitute and lends himself to speak at large industry events, like JobStock, NAB, and FITC Hollywood.

Brain cycles from Chris are always Web Standards, Flash Platform, and accessibility.

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