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Dreamweaver tutorial: How websites work in Dreamweaver

What you’ll learn in this Dreamweaver Tutorial:

  • Understanding domain names and IP addresses
  • The role of web browsers
  • Tag structures and attributes
  • Understanding the structure of an HTML document

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with Adobe Dreamweaver tag structure and attributes. It is the first lesson in the Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 Digital Classroom book. For more Adobe Dreamweaver training options, visit AGI’s Dreamweaver Classes.

Adobe Dreamweaver Tutorial: How websites work in Dreamweaver

Before embarking on the task of building web pages (and in turn, a website), it’s a good idea to know the basics of how websites work, how your users view them, and what you need to know to make sure your website looks and works its best.

A simple flow chart in Dreamweaver

What happens when you type in a website address? Most people don’t even think about it; they just type in a URL, and a web site appears in a flash. They likely don’t realize how many things are going on behind the scenes to make sure that pages gets delivered to their computers so that they can do their shopping, check their e-mail, or research a project.

When you type in a URL or IP address, you are connecting to a remote computer (referred to as a server) and downloading the documents, images, and resources necessary to reconstruct the pages you will view at that site. Web pages aren’t delivered as a finished product; your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and so on) is responsible for reconstructing and formatting the pages based on the HTML code included in the pages. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a simple, tag-based language that instructs your browser how and where to insert and format pictures, text, and media files. Web pages are written in HTML, and Dreamweaver builds HTML for you behind the scenes as you construct your page in the Design view.

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) enables you to connect to the Internet. Some well-known ISPs include America Online and Earthlink. You view web pages over an Internet connection using a browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari. A browser can decipher and display web pages and their content, including images, text, and video.

Domain names and IP addresses in Dreamweaver

When you type in a website address, you usually enter the website’s domain name (such as The website owner purchased this domain name and uses it to mask an IP address, which is a numerical address used to locate and dial up the pages and files associated with a specific website.

So how does the web know what domains match what IP address (and in turn, which websites)? It uses a Domain Name Service (DNS) server, which makes connections between domain names and IP addresses.

Servers and web hosts in Dreamweaver

A DNS server is responsible for matching a domain name with its companion IP address. Think of the DNS server as the operator at the phone company who connects calls through a massive switchboard. DNS servers are typically maintained by either the web host or the registrar from which the domain was purchased. Once the match is made, the request from your user is routed to the appropriate server and folder where your web site resides. When the request reaches the correct account, the server directs it to the first page of the web site, which is typically named index.html, default.html, or whatever the server is set up to recognize as a default starting page.

A server is a machine very much like your desktop computer, but it’s capable of handling traffic from thousands of users (often at the same time!), and it maintains a constant connection to the Internet so that your website is available 24 hours a day. Servers are typically maintained by web hosts, companies that charge a fee to host and serve your web site to the public. A single server can sometimes host hundreds of websites. Web hosting services are available from a variety of providers, including well-known Internet service companies, such as Yahoo!, and large, dedicated hosting companies, such as GoDaddy. It is also common for a large company to maintain its own servers and web sites on its premises.

The role of web browsers in Dreamweaver

A web browser is an application that downloads and displays HTML pages. Every time you request a page by clicking a link or typing in a web site address, you are requesting an HTML page and any files it includes. The browser’s job is to reconstruct and display that page based on the instructions in the HTML code, which guides the layout and formatting of the text, images, and other assets used in the page. The HTML code works like a set of assembly instructions for the browser to use.

These tutorials are created by and the team of expert instructors at American Graphics Institute.