Speed up Dreamweaver MX: Some performance boosting tips

Some tips and tricks — gleaned off the web, expe­ri­enced myself, picked up on mail­ing lists — to speed up Dreamweaver MX.

Dreamweaver MX is, in the words of Macro­me­dia, "a round-trip" XHTML edi­tor. It is not in its cur­rent avatar meant to be a ded­i­cated code edi­tor, like Home­site or Komodo or Ultraedit.

DW reads and ren­ders your code as you type, press the Enter key, choose menu items, or switch dia­log boxes and pan­els. It does a bunch of inter­nal pro­cess­ing when ren­der­ing code for the design win­dow. It has to read and exe­cute many, many HTML and JavaScript files that are in the Con­fig­u­ra­tion folder. Because of this, the response time might not be opti­mal for you. There are­sev­eral tech­niques that you can use that will speed up the pro­gram, how­ever, many of them gleaned off the web. Some of these require mod­i­fy­ing the Con­fig­u­ra­tion folder, so you should use those at your own risk. Oth­ers are just sim­ple pref­er­ence set­tings that will increase the ren­der­ing time if set the wrong way.

DISCLAIMER: Any hints that require you to mod­ify files or fold­ers in the Con­fig­u­ra­tion folder should be used at your dis­cre­tion and only after mak­ing back­ups of any files or fold­ers that you are changing.
  1. First and fore­most, if you are on Win­dows, espe­cially XP and 2000, then get the lat­est ser­vice packs from Win­dows Update, and most impor­tantly, the MSXML SP4 update. This will imme­di­ately improve your system's per­for­mance. (Has worked for sev­eral peo­ple I know.)
  2. Make sure real-time virus pro­tec­tion is off in the DW folder. Most virus pro­tec­tion pro­grams allow you to exclude a folder when doing virus check­ing. You should exclude the Dreamweaver folder from your virus pro­tec­tion. Dreamweaver is con­stantly load­ing and exe­cut­ing HTML and JavaScript­files while you are work­ing. Each file is scanned if you have virus pro­tec­tion on. If you are wor­ried about viruses in this folder, you can run a scan on the folder when you aren't work­ing with Dreamweaver. Be sure to also include sub­fold­ers. This should give you a notice­able speed improvement.
  3. When the Dreamweaver Appli­ca­tion win­dow is open (par­tic­u­larly with the Data­bases or Com­po­nent tab selected) Dreamweaver will keep refresh­ing win­dow con­tent. This can have a real impact on Dreamweaver per­for­mance, and so it is best to keep the Appli­ca­tion win­dow closed when it is not being used.
  4. Right-click > Close Panel Group on any panel that you don't use. Most of them don't take up any pro­cess­ing time, but some of them do, and if you don't use them, you shouldn't be penal­ized for it.
  5. If you want to elim­i­nate some of the drag (but lose server behav­iors func­tion­al­ity), you can go into Con­fig­u­ra­tion > Server­Be­hav­iors> [your server model] and rename the folder to some­thing else (like Cold­Fu­sionOLD) and then cre­ate a new blank folder (Cold­Fu­sion). DW will respond a lit­tle quicker with no server behav­iors to worry about. Your Server Behav­iors menu will be empty, but DW will not have to read your doc­u­ment every time you make an edit to re-populate the Server Behav­iors panel. Alter­na­tively you can rename the old folder and cre­ate your own new folder and copy only the server behav­iors that you need — the HTML, EDML, and JS files for each server behavior.
  6. The same trick will work for the Behav­iors panel as well. Go into the Behav­iors > Actions folder and remove HTML files of Behav­iors that you will never use.
  7. Don't install a lot of exten­sions that you aren't going to use. Each exten­sion copos­si­bly eat up valu­able pro­cess­ing time. Only some exten­sions cause slow­downs, but if it is some­thing that you aren't going to use, don't take the chance. Also, exten­sions cause the load time of the pro­gram to be increased.
  8. Another way to speed up response time is to go into Pref­er­ences > Invis­i­ble Ele­ments and set up the Show Dynamic Text As {}. You can also uncheck the hid­den ele­ments so they aren't ren­dered either.
  9. Also on that same Pref­er­ence screen is the option to turn off Server-Side Includes. This will speed up the response time on any page that has server-side include files.
  10. In the Pref­er­ences > High­light­ing tab, uncheck the dif­fer­ent color highlights.
  11. In the Pref­er­ences > Acces­si­bil­ity tab, uncheck the Off­screen Ren­der­ing box.
  12. In Pref­er­ences > Code Rewrit­ing, uncheck Rename Form Fields When Past­ing. When this is on, DW
    scans your doc­u­ment for form fields every time you copy/paste a form field.
  13. In Pref­er­ences > Code Hints set the delay to 0. This allows the popup code hint menus to come up right away while you type code instead of being delayed when edit­ing code in code view.
  14. In Pref­er­ences > Quick Tag Edi­tor set the delay to 0. This allows the popup code hint menu to come up right away while you type code instead of being delayed when edit­ing tags in the Quick Tag Editor.
  15. In Pref­er­ences > Gen­eral set the Faster Table Updat­ing (check). This means that your tables may not update them­selves auto­mat­i­cally each time you make an edit, but the response time of the pro­gram will improve.
  16. There are some tricks in the Trans­la­tors folder also. If you remove the trans­la­tors, DW will func­tion more quickly, but you'll also lose a lot of the design-time ren­der­ing of code. If you aren't con­cerned about it, get rid of it. Rename the Con­fig­u­ra­tion > Trans­la­tors > [your server model] folder to some­thing else, and replace it with an empty folder. You'll also lose the func­tion­al­ity of server behav­iors, but if you are strictly using the code win­dow, this may not be a con­cern. Try it out: rename the Trans­la­tors folder to Trans­la­torsSAVE, and cre­ate an empty Trans­la­tors folder. Restart the pro­gram and load some of your code-heavy pages into DW. You'll be amazed how fast the pro­gram responds.
  17. If you are on a Mac­in­tosh, set the mem­ory used by DW to a high value — at least 100 Meg is a safe num­ber. Also, rebuild your desk­top often.
  18. Snip­pets: The snip­pets panel is slow when it con­tains a lot of snip­pets. Remove the snip­pets you don't use (prob­a­bly all of the pre­in­stalled snip­pets) by going into the Snip­pets folder and delet­ing or mov­ing the files.
  19. When set­ting up your site, leave the set­ting unchecked for Refresh Local File List Automatically.
  20. Make sure that you check the Enable Cache set­ting in the Site panel (Local Info page). Check the Cache set­ting in the Bind­ings panel by right-clicking on any data bind­ing that is defined, such as a Record­set, and make sure that Cache is checked.
  21. In the Site panel, in the Design Notes tab, uncheck Main­tain Design Notes. You'll lose the func­tion­al­ity of Design Notes, but that may not be an issue for you.
  22. In the Site panel, in the Test­ing Server panel, leave the set­ting unchecked for Refresh Remote File List Automatically.
  23. Go to Pref­er­ences > Gen­eral > Max­i­mum Num­ber of His­tory Steps. If you don't have a lot of mem­ory, you can decrease this set­ting. This is a very use­ful fea­ture of course, so use your judg­ment (i.e., don't set it too low.)
  24. There are some issues with the Front­page Pub­lish com­mands.

These are only a few of the many tech­niques you can use, please use the com­ments sec­tion below to include any addi­tional func­tion­al­ity you can think of or have found use­ful. Some of these hints may crip­ple the func­tion­al­ity of the pro­gram, so I pro­vide them as a guide­line only, please exer­cise your judg­ment. If you spend most of your time in the code win­dow, you may never notice.

  • Heinz Malcharzyk

    Here's another way to speed up DW MX:

    Remove all com­ments inside any JavaScript file in any DW MX Con­fig­u­ra­tion folder. But CAUTION! This is going to take a really long time. In addi­tion, the JS can be shrunken by remov­ing lots of obso­lete tabs and spaces. If this is too much work for you, go to the Brain­Jar JavaScript Crunchinator

    As DW MX checks every line of code inside those JS files on startup, a line that doesn't have to be checked is a time saver. There are thou­sands of lines that con­sist solely of // com­ments /* or even mul­ti­line comments */

    Unless if you are a devel­oper who wants to know exactly what these JS files do, get rid of 'em.

  • / snip­tools

    That's a bril­liant sug­ges­tion, Heinz. Thanks!

    The URL to Brainjar's Crunchi­na­tor:

  • http://nokia6630.info bill

    I am here to say hello and you have a great site! nokia6630

  • http://www.creativetank.net/dreamweaver/ Alexis

    These look really handy. I’m cur­rently re-designing my site so will see how I can incor­po­rate some of this functionality.

  • "#"nickjackson Nick Jack­son


    Thanks for the tips. Try­ing most of them.

    Any updates for CS3/4?

  • http://isuckatgolf.net Ken

    I am hav­ing an issue with Dreamweaver CS3 tak­ing a LONG time to add a file to local files. Or for it to show up on the drop down. If I add an image and have to put that image to the server, it might take 1 – 4 min­utes for the jpg to show up in the local files. I don't have ANY real sys­tem in place unfor­tu­nately. The local files are basi­cally a huge list of jpg's etc. Is that why this is hap­pene­ing? Could it be the anti-virus slow­ing it down. I wrote NOD32 on how to exclude the Dreamweaver folder from real time scan­ning but they haven't got­ten back to me. (what a surprise.)


  • BlackRab­bit

    Hey, I tested Heinz's tip on opti­miz­ing the *.js files and I think Dreamweaver CS5.5 starts much faster now. I did this for a friend.
    I used the YUI Com­pres­sor to "com­press" the files, and it reduced the file­size about 50%! There are 971 js files in dreamweavers con­fig­u­ra­tion folder. Size before 1 012 472 bytes, size now: 5 507 096 bytes.
    The YUI Com­pres­sor is build with java, heres what I did (for windows)(you may want to google some of the steps):
    1. Down­load the YUI Com­pres­sor (I placed it in "c:\")
    2. Make sure you have the lat­est ver­sion of java, if you don't install it.
    3. Make sure java is in the env­ior­men­tal vari­ables.
    5. Make a copy of the con­fig­u­ra­tion folder to somewere on your hard­drive (I used "c:\temp")

    Now you need to pro­duce some­thing that runs the YUI Com­pres­sor on all the files and append­ing them with new code. I cre­ated a .bat file for doing ths:
    6. Use cmd and the dir com­mand to cre­ate a textfile with paths to all the *.js files in the c:\temp\configuration folder
    7. Open excel and copy the con­tent of the text file to a spread­sheet
    8. In the col­umn to the left of this write this: "java –jar c:\yuicompressor-2.4.6.jar –nomunge –o "". Copy this for for all rows to the end (where the textfile out­put ends)
    9. On the col­umn to the right of the adresses type "" "", copy this to the end where the adress row ends.
    10. Copy the adress col­umn. Paste it to the right of "" "".
    11. Copy the entire thing and paste it into a text edi­tor. Remove all the tabs. A cor­rect line looks like this:
    java –jar c:\yuicompressor-2.4.6.jar –nomunge –o "C:\TEMP\configuration\Behaviors\Actions\Call JavaScript.js" "C:\TEMP\configuration\Behaviors\Actions\Call JavaScript.js"
    12. Save it as a bat file and run it.
    13. When fin­ished, MAKE SURE TO MAKE A BACKUP of the orginal con­fig­u­ra­tion forlder in the dreamweaver direc­tory, and copy the new one to the dreamweaver directory.

    That sould do it.

  • BlackRab­bit

    java –jar c:\yuicompressor-2.4.6.jar –nomunge –o

    java –jar c:\yuicompressor-2.4.6.jar –nomunge –o

  • BlackRab­bit

    There must be some kind of script fil­ter­ing two — out. There should be two — after nomunge.

  • http://www.splinterteal.com/ Free­lance Web Designer

    awe­some tips, can really see a dif­fer­ence now in Dreamweaver CC with the lat­est 13.2 Build