I don't know about you but I have a tendency to form workflow habits for each program I use that I carry over from one version of a program to another. True there well be same changes as I discover new features but sometimes I well miss out on a better workflow because sticking with my ingrained workflow causes me to miss how a new feature could improve my workflow.
I have been playing with the Dreamweaver CS4 beta and realized that the time has come to rethink the workflow I use when working in Dreamweaver. Part of the reason is clear to anyone who has downloaded and tried out the publics beta from http://labs.adobe.com . (Note to use for more than one day you need to generate an install key which requires the key from any CS program.)
The new Live View and massive changes to the CSS tools clearly call for a new workflow. Smaller changes like splitting the Property Inspector into two views, HTML and CSS, might or night not have causal me to re-evaluate my workflow but the combination of new features and changes to the interface are forcing a workflow review. (Personally I really wish they had not gone to the black interface far too hard to read in my opinion, I've changed the Expression Web interface to blue instead of the default black for be same reason.)
The Challenge of Change
You would think that those of us who work in the fast changing world of the web would be constantly adapting my our workflow as the web changes but in many cases even though we expand our repertoire of skills our fundamental workflow changes little.
Instead we shoehorn into our existing workflow. Where we would once have dragged out a code snippet for reuse we now pop a jQuery, YUI or Moo tools library into our site and use it just like we would a piece of code we created for reuse stored in the snippets panel. After all few of us have the luxury of setting down and thoroughly exploring all paths and features available in the software we use daily.
I remember once hearing that most of the feature requests Microsoft gets for Word were already there just not discovered by the user making the request. I know that there are things in any program I use that would improve my workflow if I just spent the time exploring menus I have never look at but like most people my time is limited. Plus familiarity with parts I use all the time of a program tends to keep me in my comfort zone.
So just how do you go about changing well established habits?
Books: Get a good book on the subject but if you are anything like me you will adapt a ignore the book's workflow and use your own. If you do get a book make sure you do the exercises as prescribed if you are trying to improve your workflow.
Live events: Go to events sponsored by software vendor. Many launch events are good for this if try have breakout sessions. Attend industry conferences whether sponsored by one company like Adobe MAX or Microsoft MIX or events like South x Southwest and Webmaster Jam Session. You may be fortunate enough to have a user group for web design, web development or a local Refresh group in your area. Attend the meetings, get involved.
Reworded events: If there are no live in-person events near you many of the launches are recorded and available as Webcasts.
Webcasts:-Such as Adobe TV, Channel 9 (Microsoft) though many of these are more marketing oriented bit there are many thus will help you learn how to use their program effectively.
Training videos: These can be free or paid. For example I have several free training videos on by-expression.com but this blog post was inspired by watching the Dreamweaver CS4 ideas on lynda.com (note other than as a satisfied user I have no affiliation with Lynda.com but as an Adobe Community Expert for Dreamweaver I can provides you an user group discount code for Lynda.com training use the the lynda.com user group partner logo link for more info.
Attend classes: ones with instructors available to answer your questions. These can be live in person such as through a training center ($$$) usually up to date but tend to stile to the vendor prescribed curriculum. Community college classes, just make sure they one teaching a modern standards based curriculum too many are stuck in slice and dice tables of last century. Online classes such as chose we offer at Start to Web or the HTML Writer's Guild. As someone who has both taken classes
and taught them online I am constantly amazed at the people who pay for a class yet don't post a single word during the entire class. If you take a class - DO YOUR ASSIGNMENTS - ask questions and participate. You have no idea what it is like to be an instructor and have students who paid money to take the class not participate.
Time for me to shake up and improve my workflow. I will be doing that with Jim Babbage's new Fireworks CS4 book, watching videos and attending conferences.