Learn about web servers, databases, and understand how to set up your computer to develop a web application in Dreamweaver.


The user interface has been simplified in Dreamweaver CC and later. As a result, you may not find some of the options described in this article in Dreamweaver CC and later. For more information, see this article.

What you need to build web applications

To build web applications in Adobe Dreamweaver, you need the following software:

  • A web server
  • An application server that works with your web server  


In the context of web applications, the terms web server and application server refer to software, not hardware.  

  • If you want to use a database with your application, you require the following additional software:

  • A database system

  • A database driver that supports your database

    Several web hosting companies offer plans that let you use their software to test and deploy web applications. In some cases, you can install the required software on the same computer as Dreamweaver for development purposes. You can also install the software on a network computer (typically a Windows 2000 or XP computer) so that other developers on your team can work on a project.

    If you want to use a database with your web application, you must first connect to it.

Web server basics

To develop and test dynamic web pages, you need a functioning web server. A web server is software that serves web pages in response to requests from web browsers. A web server is sometimes called an HTTP server. You can install and use a web server on your local computer.

If you’re a Macintosh user, you can use the Apache web server already installed on your Macintosh.


Adobe does not provide technical support for third-party software such as Microsoft Internet Information Server. If you need assistance with a Microsoft product, please contact Microsoft technical support.

If you use Internet Information Server (IIS) to develop web applications, the default name of your web server is the name of your computer. You can change the server name by changing the name of your computer. If your computer has no name, the server uses the word localhost.

The server name corresponds to the server’s root folder, which (on a Windows computer) is most likely C:\Inetpub\wwwroot. You can open any web page stored in the root folder by entering the following URL in a browser running on your computer:


For example, if the server name is mer_noire and a web page called soleil.html is stored in C:\Inetpub\wwwroot\, you can open the page by entering the following URL in a browser running on the local computer:



Remember to use forward slashes, not backslashes, in URLs.

You can also open any web page stored in any subfolder of the root folder by specifying the subfolder in the URL. For example, suppose the soleil.html file is stored in a subfolder called gamelan, as follows:


You can open this page by entering the following URL in a browser running on your computer:


When the web server is running on your computer, you can replace the server name with localhost. For example, the following URLs open the same page in a browser:




.Another expression you can use instead of the server name or localhost is (for example,

Choose a web server

To develop and test web applications, you can choose from a number of common web servers including Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) and Apache HTTP Server.

If you’re not using a web hosting service, choose a web server and install it on your local computer for development purposes. Windows and Macintosh users who want to develop ColdFusion web applications can use the web server included in the developer edition of the ColdFusion 8 application server, which you can install and use for free.

Other Windows users can run a web server on their local computer by installing IIS. This web server may already be installed on your system. Check your folder structure to see if it contains a C:\Inetpub or D:\Inetpub folder. IIS creates this folder during installation.

Mac OS users can use the local Apache web server installed with the operating system.

For information on installing and configuring other web servers, see the server vendor’s documentation or your system administrator.

Choose an application server

An application server is software that helps a web server process dynamic pages. When choosing an application server, you should consider several factors, including your budget, the server technology you want to use (ColdFusion, ASP, or PHP), and the type of web server.


Some vendors sell high‑end application servers that are expensive to buy and administer. Others vendors provide easier, more cost-effective solutions (an example is ColdFusion). Some application servers are built into web servers (such as Microsoft IIS) and others can be downloaded for free from the Internet (such as PHP).

Server technology

Application servers use different technologies. Dreamweaver supports three server technologies: ColdFusion, ASP, and PHP. The following table shows common application servers available for the server technologies supported by Dreamweaver:

Server technology

Application server


Adobe ColdFusion 8


Microsoft IIS


PHP server

To learn more about ColdFusion, select ColdFusion Help from the Help menu.

To learn more about ASP, visit the Microsoft website at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa286483.aspx.

To learn more about PHP, visit the PHP website at www.php.net/.

Choose a database

Databases come in many forms depending upon the amount and the complexity of the data they must store. When choosing a database, you should consider several factors, including your budget and the number of users you anticipate will access the database.


Some vendors produce high‑end application database servers that are expensive to buy and administer. Others vendors provide easier, more cost-effective solutions, such as Microsoft Access or the open-source database MySQL.


If you anticipate a large user community accessing the site, select a database designed to support your site’s intended user base. For websites requiring greater flexibility in their data modeling, and the ability to support large, concurrent user communities, consider server-based relational databases (typically referred to as RDBMS) like Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.

Set up a ColdFusion development environment

For detailed instructions on setting up a ColdFusion development environment for Dreamweaver on your Windows or Mac computer, see the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/setup_cf.html.

Both Windows and Macintosh users can download and install a free, fully functional, developer edition of the ColdFusion application server from the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/go/coldfusion/.


The Developer Edition is for non-commercial use for developing and testing web applications. It is not licensed for deployment. It supports requests from the local host and two remote IP addresses. You can use it to develop and test your web applications as long as you want; the software does not expire. For more information, see ColdFusion help (Help > ColdFusion Help).

During installation, you can configure ColdFusion to use the web server built into ColdFusion or another web server installed on your system. Generally, it’s best to match your development environment to your production environment. Therefore, if you have an existing web server such as Microsoft IIS on your development computer, you may want to use it instead of the built‑in ColdFusion web server.

Set up a PHP development environment

For detailed instructions on setting up a PHP development environment for Dreamweaver on your Windows or Mac computer, see the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/setup_php.html.

Editions of the PHP application server exist for Windows, Linux, UNIX, HP‑UX, Solaris, and Mac OS X systems. For more information on the application server, see the PHP documentation, which you can also download from the PHP website at www.php.net/download-docs.php.

Set up an ASP development environment

For detailed instructions on setting up an ASP development environment for Dreamweaver on your Windows or Mac computer, see the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/devnet/dreamweaver/articles/setup_asp.html.

To run ASP pages, you need an application server that supports Microsoft Active Server Pages 2.0., such as Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Services), which comes with Windows 2000 and Windows XP Professional. Windows XP Professional users can install and run IIS on their local computer. Macintosh users can use a web hosting service with an ASP plan or install IIS on a remote computer.

Create a root folder for the application

After signing up with a web hosting company or setting up the server software yourself, create a root folder for your web application on the computer running the web server. The root folder can be local or remote, depending on where your web server is running.

The web server can serve any file in this folder or in any of its subfolders in response to an HTTP request from a web browser. For example, on a computer running ColdFusion 8, any file in the \ColdFusion8\wwwroot folder or any of its subfolders can be served to a web browser.

The following are the default root folders of selected web servers:

Web server

Default root folder

ColdFusion 8




Apache (Windows)


Apache (Macintosh)


To test the web server, place a test HTML page in the default root folder and attempt to open it by entering the page’s URL in a browser. The URL comprises the domain name and the filename of the HTML page, as follows: www.example.com/testpage.htm.

If the web server is running on your local computer, you can use localhost instead of a domain name. Enter one of the following localhost URLs to match your web server:

Web server

Localhost URL

ColdFusion 8




Apache (Windows)


Apache (Macintosh)

http://localhost/~MyUserName/testpage.htm (where MyUserName is your Macintosh user name)


By default the ColdFusion web server runs on port 8500 and the Apache web server for Windows runs on port 80.

If the page doesn’t open as expected, check for the following errors:

  • The web server is not started. Consult the web server’s documentation for starting instructions.

  • The file does not have an .htm or .html extension.

  • You entered the page’s file path (for example, c:\ColdFusion8\wwwroot\testpage.htm), not its URL (for example, http://localhost:8500/testpage.htm), in the browser’s address text box.

  • The URL contains a typing mistake. Check for errors and make sure the filename is not followed by a slash, such as http://localhost:8080/testpage.htm/.

    After creating a root folder for your application, define a Dreamweaver site to manage your files.

About defining a Dreamweaver site

After configuring your system to develop web applications, define a Dreamweaver site to manage your files.

Before you start, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • You have access to a web server. The web server can be running on your local computer, on a remote computer such as a development server, or on a server maintained by a web hosting company.

  • An application server is installed and running on the system running your web server.

  • You created a root folder for your web application on the system running your web server.

Defining a Dreamweaver site for your web application consists of three steps:

1. Define a local folder

The local folder is the folder you use to store working copies of site files on your hard disk. You can define a local folder for each new web application you create. Defining a local folder also gives you the ability to manage your files and to transfer files to and from your web server easily.

2. Define a remote folder

Define a folder located on the computer running your web server as a Dreamweaver remote folder. The remote folder is the folder you created for your web application on the web server.

3. Define a testing folder

Dreamweaver uses this folder to generate and display dynamic content and connect to databases while you work. The testing server can be your local computer, a development server, a staging server, or a production server. As long as it can process the kind of dynamic pages you plan to develop, the choice doesn’t matter.

After the Dreamweaver site is defined, you can start building your web application.

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