Review: Building Dynamic Web Sites with Macromedia Studio MX 2004

coverBuilding Dynamic Web Sites with Macromedia Studio MX 2004 from New Riders is by Tom Green, Jordan L. Chilcott and Chris S. Flick. It is an ambitious effort to explain a number of tools and a complex process in a single volume. Although the authors explain many basics it is not for the novice.

You need some background in the tools and skills needed for this material, or else an ability to read between the lines, to get the most out of it. That said, there is a lot here to help you use all the tools of Studio MX 2004 to plan and build a dynamic database-driven site. The book starts with very basic information such as planning the site, gathering a management, design and programming team, flowcharting the logic of the data, creating a site model and wireframing it out. Then the book walks you through building the example site (files are available from the book web site) using Dreamweaver, Cold Fusion, Fireworks, Flash, Director and non-Macromedia tools such as MySQL. Along the way you put together a site with a meeting room booking application, live chat, a database that drives dynamic content, streaming video and streaming audio. I said it was ambitious.

There is a heavy reliance on Flash: Flash Communication Server, Flash chat room design, Flash video. All the Studio MX 2004 tools are used before you finish, however.

The book was written by a team of authors. Tom Green is an educator, Jordan L. Chilcott is a programmer, and Chris S. Flick is an artist and illustrator. All are experienced web designers. They clearly consider building a site of this complexity a job for a team, not an individual.

There may be individuals who possess the diverse knowledge and skill sets needed to pull off the planning, designing, application building, database building, streaming and debugging exercises this book puts you through, but I doubt if students have this much basic knowledge already at hand. A book with a more focused approach, rather than the broad sweep taken in this book, would be more help to a student with limited background who wanted to learn how to use databases to create dynamic content.

The authors are aware of that fact, and wrote an earlier book that takes a more basic approach. It is called Building Web Sites with Macromedia Studio MX. Although I haven’t reviewed it myself, I have heard many favorable comments about it. The two books together would be a good way to take a student from newbie to polished in terms of Macromedia Studio tools. In fact, the two books together are so expansive that they might be considered an entire Webmaster certification course load, rather than a single semester’s class work.

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