Defining a Website

Before you can begin designing web pages, you must first define the website in Dreamweaver. Defining a site is a way to organize all of the documents associated with a website. Defining a site provides Dreamweaver with

  • the location of the site locally
  • the location of the site on a remote web server
  • all other configurations associated with the site

Once a site is defined, you can begin designing individual web pages. You can edit the site definition at any time once it has been established.

Note: You should have a web server installed locally to view & test your web pages. Apache is the most popular web server available and it is free. Many Windows users (WinXP) have access to Internet Information Server (IIS); it just needs to be enabled.
Note: Before defining and designing a site in Dreamweaver, make sure that you have gone through an appropriate planning process.

Defining a Site

To define a new web site, from the menu, select Site, then New Site.
The Site Definition dialog box appears.

Site Definition dialog box

Site Definition dialog box

For the purpose of these instructions, click on the Advanced tab so that the details of the site definition are displayed.
Site Definition Advanced Tab

Site Definition Advanced Tab

Local Info

By default, the Local Info category is selected. On this screen, you’ll tell Dreamweaver where the files of your site will be on your local computer.

  • Site Name: The human-friendly name that you provide for your website. This name can include spaces.
  • Local Root Folder: The folder on your local computer that contains/will contain the files related to your website. You can click on the folder icon to browse your computer to find the locations.
  • Default Images Folder: This will be the default location where all your images will be stored. Click on the folder icon to browse to the location, or create a new folder.
  • Links Relative To: This option determine how links will be created, relative to the current document (preferred) or to the site.
  • HTTP Address: The HTTP address of your website on your local computer. Enter this is you have a web server installed on your local computer. Example: If you have IIS running on a Windows XP computer, then the HTTP address would be http://localhost/sitename, where sitename is the name of the local root folder.
  • Case-Sensitive Links: Check this box if you will host your site on a UNIX-based web server.
  • Cache: Enable cache is checked, by default. This speeds up the processing and display of local site management functions, like assets, link checking, etc.

If you only wish to design/develop a site locally, without publishing it on a web-accessible web server, you’re done. Click Ok.

If you have an account with a web hosting service, under Category, select Remote Info and continue to the next section to enter the remote server information.

Remote Info

Remote Info dialog box

Remote Info dialog box

When you first select the Remote Info category, you’ll see a drop-down menu, with the following options:

  • None (default)
  • FTP: used for most web hosting services.
  • Local/Network: If the site is to be publicly hosted on a local or networked web server.
  • WebDAV: select this when the site is be hosted on a Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning-friendly environment.
  • RDS: select this when directly working on a site located on a RDS server.
  • Microsoft® Visual SourceSafe®: select this if you plan to leverage the MS SourceSafe® system.

Let’s assume that you’ll be connecting to your hosted website via FTP.

Remote Info dialog box, FTP selected.

Remote Info dialog box, FTP selected.

You’ll then enter the information that was likely provided to you via email from your web hosting company.

  • Access: FTP
  • FTP Host: This will be the host server provided by your hosting company.
  • Host directory: Depending on your hosting service, you may need to enter a folder name where your public files should be stored.
  • Login: Your hosting account username.
  • Password: Your hosting account password. You should check the Saved option box, so that you will not have to re-enter your password each time you access your account.
    You can verify that the information was entered correctly by clicking the Test button.
  • Use passive FTP: Select only if your web hosting service requires it.
  • Use IPv6 transfer mode: Select only if your web hosting service requires it.
  • Use firewall: Select only if local environment behind a firewall that restricts access. If selected, click Firewall Settings to edit the appropriate settings.
  • Use Secure FTP (SFTP): Select only if your web hosting service requires it.
  • Server Compatibility button: If you receive connectivity errors, try these options as part of your troubleshooting efforts.
  • Maintain synchronization information: Selected by default. Used for synchronization information between local & remote web server.
  • Automatically upload files to server on save: I would not recommend selecting this option.
  • Enable file check in and check out: Select if developing for multiple content contributors (i.e. Adobe Contribute).

For most, this is all you’ll need to design & develop locally, then publish the content to a publicly-accessible web server. Click OK.

Following are additional Categories that may be configured.

Testing Server

By default, your local site is used as a testing server. For developers creating applications, a different location might be needed. This screen allows you to select the location of your testing server/site, based on the server model and access method.


Cloaking allows you to prevent certain folders and files from being included in site operations. You would leverage this option if you planned to block certain folders/files from, say, being published, or being included in site maintenance operations like link checking.

Design Notes

Design Notes is information about a file on the website that the designer can add. This information can be about its status, work that needs to be performed, etc. The option “Maintain Design Notes” is select by default. If you plan to use Design Notes in a multi-user environment, check the “Upload design Notes for sharing” option.

Site Map Layout

The Site Map Layout function allows you to view your local site in a Site Map view. After selecting the home page for the site, options include whether to display file names or page titles, displaying hidden files, and displaying dependent files.

File View Columns

This screen allows you to add custom columns to your File View panel that are associated to information from a related Design Note.


This option enables Adobe Contribute compatibility. Note that you must enable Design Notes, the uploading of Design Notes, and Check In / Check Out.


This option turns on the rewriting of document relative paths.


Determines the location where Spry Assets will be stored within the site. By defaulk, they are stored in a folder labeled SpryAssets. This folder is only created if Spry Assets are utilized.

Accessing the Site Definition

Once a site is created, you can access the site definition.

  1. From the menu, select Site, then Manage Sites
    Manage Sites dialog box

    Manage Sites dialog box

  2. From the Manage Sites dialog box, select the site you wish to edit the Site Definition.
  3. Click Edit.

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