What a time to reflect on Nielsen’s heuristics and Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules! I just spent the weekend battling Dreamweaver and wandering the misty marshes of Adobe troubleshooting land. Let’s begin at the beginning, LAST weekend. A relative newbie to Dreamweaver, I have been a regular attendee this Fall at Lake Washington Technical College’s Dreamweaver CS3 course. We have been following the Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Classroom in a Book. The book itself would rate high on the either Nielsen or Shneiderman’s rating scale. Over the course of six chapters, one works through clear example on where elements reside in the program and how you add elements to their template. It is not until Chapter 7 that we begin to build a site page from scratch. Plenty of time to get acquainted with the environment adopt the codes and acquire habit forming action sequences.
Formerly a Macromedia product, most of the layout is bucketed into sections recognizable to users of their other products, such as Flash. Terminology in this case is reflective of html, parsed phrases one needs to eventually become familiar with to be “hip”, if not useful. With a guide, the logic of the user’s work path is understood. The average percentage of text on a page is about 55-60%, so the user’s short-term memory load is not taxed. For instance, establishing a new CSS style rule is covered over three pages, including more pictures than words. The hidden options for experts are not readily revealed in this book, nor in the program. For this we had our resident expert user, Professor Dave. After the first few chapters, I could follow this book without the teacher. Until the computer crashed, that is.
And crashed again. Same day, same place, infinite number of times. Well, no, not infinite. I simply lost track of actual NUMBER of times! But not every time >:-( . Lack of consistency of outcome made potential troubleshooting options difficult. I seemed to make the same sequence of actions when “inserting a div”. My error seemed to be trying to delete it, and then re-insert it. But then, there was no informative feedback saying “Stop, this will freeze the computer” or “You have made an incorrect error in judgment. This program will now be terminated.” Adobe products (and others) would benefit from improvement on their error handling.
I googled for a troubleshooting solution, found one in Adobe’s online literature, something I was unable to locate using their laborious search engine process. I was to remove or “old” the Preference file or if problem still persisted, the Configuration file. The first commandment of PC’s is “thou shalt not mess with the Config file.” But then, this was a Mac, right?
No blue screen of death here. A nice, white box pops up with a large! Exclamation point… and nothing else. Dreamweaver had taken a leave of absence. Or its brains were removed. It was simply, clueless. Unfortunately, there is no “back button”, no easy reversal of actions for this result.
Shall we talk about the elegance and simplicity of the reinstall process? For, because there was no “help” in the programs help section and while the delightful man that answered the phone in India was a master of manners, my issue was a technical issue. Technical issues are dealt with 9-5 M-Friday. He suggested reinstalling the program. Not a bad idea. Problem is, I hung up before I asked, “Where does Adobe Installer reside?”
It is lost, buried deep in (what is the square head two faced icon down in my ballooning dock bar called again?) Finder. Prof Dave clued me in on the search function of a Mac the following Monday. However, one still has to know what one is looking for. To regain my internal locus of control, I did not throw my disc like a Frisbee across the room. Rather, after several unsuccessful attempts to remove the single, Dreamweaver program, I uninstalled the entire CS3 Suite. You see I got this really unhelpful “informative feedback” during attempts to re-install just one program. It asked me to install “the second disc”. (My second disc is labeled “contents”.) So I did. Then it told me I had the wrong disc (duh! There is no second program disc. The others are “extra”.) Complete uninstall and reinstalled the entire, delightful program. (Visions of flying Frisbees dance in my head).
Unfortunately, my problem is still not necessarily solved. I have no method of determining what caused the problem or if it will return. So, I now save before every div insertion. The problem is at least avoided. Maybe I will call tech support. Before Friday, 5pm.
Follow up: It was the Adobe product, not the iMac. Read my comments for solution.