Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 – Creating your first website – Part 1: Set up your site and project files

Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 logo

Image via Wikipedia


Prerequisite knowledge

This tutorial requires no previous knowledge of Dreamweaver. However, familiarity with web design concepts such as HTML and CSS will be helpful. The tutorials in this series are designed to be completed in order.

User level


Required products

Sample files

Note: This tutorial series was originally written for Dreamweaver CS4 by Jon Michael Varese. It has been updated for Dreamweaver CS5 by David Powers. The content is still valid for Dreamweaver CS5.5.

This tutorial introduces you to the concept of an Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 site and shows you how to set up the project files for the Check Magazine sample website. In Dreamweaver, a site generally consists of two parts: a collection of files on a local computer (the local site) and a location on a remote web server to which you upload files when you’re ready to make them publicly available (the remote site). You use the Dreamweaver Files panel to manage the files for your site.

The most common approach to creating a website with Dreamweaver is to create and edit pages on your local drive, and then upload copies of those pages to a remote web server for viewing on the web. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to set up only the local site so you can begin building web pages right away. Later, after you’ve completed the website, you’ll learn how to create a remote site so that you can upload your files to a web server.

A follow-up tutorial series will show you how to adapt the website to use a server-side technology to create a simple content management system for a news page that draws its content dynamically from a database.

In this first part of the series, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Learn about Dreamweaver sites
  • Set up your project files
  • Define a local folder

Learn about Dreamweaver sites

In Dreamweaver, a site organizes on your local computer all the documents associated with your website and lets you track and maintain links, manage files, share files, and transfer your site files to a web server. Think of your Dreamweaver site as the “bucket” that contains all of the files and assets for your website.

A typical Dreamweaver site has at least two parts:

  • Local folder: This is your working directory. Dreamweaver refers to this folder as your local site. The local folder is usually a folder on your hard drive.
  • Remote folder: This is where you store your files on the computer that’s running your web server. The computer running the web server is often but not always the computer that makes your site publicly available on the web.

In some circumstances, you might have more than one remote folder. For example, if you work in a team environment, all members of the team might upload their files to a common testing server before they are deployed on the live website. Also, it’s normal to set up a testing server when developing websites that use a server-side technology, such as Adobe ColdFusion or PHP. The site setup process in Dreamweaver CS5 has been changed to enable you to define multiple remote and testing servers.

Another reason for the changes is to simplify the process of defining a site in Dreamweaver CS5. All you need to do to start working is to give your site a name, and tell Dreamweaver where you want to store the files on your local computer. Dreamweaver CS5 automatically prompts you for further information about the site setup only when it’s needed.

For more information about Dreamweaver sites in general, see Setting up a Dreamweaver site in Dreamweaver Help.

Set up your project files

When you create a local site, you can place any existing assets images or other pieces of content in the local site’s root folder the main folder for the site . That way when you add content to your pages, the assets are there and ready for you to use.

The sample files included in the download ZIP file contain assets for the sample website you’ll build in this tutorial series. The first step is to copy the sample files to an appropriate folder on your hard drive:

  1. Decide where you want to store your website files on your hard drive. The folder can be anywhere on your computer, but the less buried it is the easier it is to find later. For example:
    • Windows C:\Sites
    • Mac OS X Your home folder already includes a folder called Sites.
  2. Download and unzip the sample files from the link at the top of this page if you haven’t done so already.
  3. Copy the check_cs5 folder into the Sites folder.

The check_cs5 folder is the folder you will use as the root folder main folder for your Dreamweaver site.

Note: The local root folder of your Dreamweaver site is normally the main or top-level folder for your website. It usually corresponds to a folder called public_htmlwww, or wwwroot on your remote server. For example, if you have a website at, and have a file called news.html in the root folder, its URL is The normal practice is to give your local root folder the same name as the website without the top-level domain such as .com or .org . For example, I store the files for my website at in a folder called foundationphp on my local hard drive.

Define a local site folder

You must define a Dreamweaver local site folder for each new website you create. Dreamweaver needs to know where your site files are to create all the internal links correctly, and to update them when you move files to a different location within your site.

Next, set up the site for this tutorial series and define as your local site folder the check_cs5 folder you copied into your Sites folder:

  1. Start Dreamweaver and select Site > New Site. The Site Setup dialog box appears.
  2. In the Site Name text box, enter Check Magazine as the name of the site. The name is used internally by Dreamweaver to identify the site. It doesn’t matter if it contains spaces.
  3. Click the folder icon next to the Local Site Folder text box to browse to and select the check_cs5 folder.
    1. The Site Setup dialog box should now look like Figure 1.

    Defining the local site folder for the Check Magazine site.

    Figure 1. Defining the local site folder for the Check Magazine site.

    Note: The file paths might differ, depending on where you created the Sites folder on your hard drive.

    1. Click Save. That’s it!

    The Files panel in Dreamweaver now shows the new local root folder for your current site (see Figure 2). The file list in the Files panel acts as a file manager, allowing you to copy, paste, delete, move, and open files just as you would on a desktop.

    List of files in the Files panel

    Figure 2. List of files in the Files panel

    For more information about how the Files panel works, see Work with files in the Files panel in Dreamweaver Help.

    You’ve now defined a local site folder for the Check Magazine site. This is where you keep the working copies of web pages on your local computer. Later, if you want to publish your pages and make them publicly available, you’ll need to define a remote folder—a place on a remote computer, running a web server that will hold published copies of your local files. You’ll learn how to do that in part 6 of this tutorial series.

    Where to go from here

    Now that you have finished defining your site, you can begin building your web pages by following Part 2 in this series, creating the page layout


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Director of Ram Computer Repairs Ltd

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