Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 and CS4 include the Spry framework, a set of widgets you can use to create drop-down menus and other advanced features. The Spry menus make adding a drop-down menu in Dreamweaver easy, but editing the styles that control the color, size, and other attributes of a menu can get complicated. This tutorial shows you how to customize a drop-down menu.
1 INSERT A DROP-DOWN MENU
To insert a Spry menu, first chose Spry from the drop-down list at the top of the Insert panel (or in the Classic workspace layout, open the Spry Insert bar at the top of the workspace by clicking on the Spry tab). Place your cursor where you want to create the menu in your webpage and then click on the Spry Menu Bar icon.
2 CREATE HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL MENUS
As you insert a Spry Menu Bar, you have the option to create a menu that displays horizontally across your page with submenu options that drop down below the menu bar, or a vertical menu bar with submenu options that open to the right of the main menu items. You must make this choice during the setup process by clicking on the corresponding button and then clicking OK to insert the menu. Once the menu bar is inserted, you can’t change its orientation.
3 FIND THE STYLE YOU WANT TO EDIT
Open the CSS Styles panel (Window>CSS Styles). Click the All button at the top of the panel and twirl open SpryMenuBarHorizontal.css. Click-and-drag the top of the Properties pane in the CSS panel (shown here) until you can see the list of your styles and their defined rules. A good way to start is to click on each of the style names in the All Rules list and review their settings in the Properties pane. Look for color, font, and size settings, which you’re likely to want to change. In the next few steps, we’ll cover several of these styles specifically.
4 ADJUST ALIGNMENT
Like most options for a horizontal menu, the alignment is controlled by a CSS style. By default, the horizontal menu aligns to the left of the page, but you can align it to the right by changing the definition of the style named, “ul.MenuBarHorizontal li.” Click on the name of the style in the CSS Styles panel and then in the Properties pane, click just to the right of the Float field to use the drop-down list, and select Right instead of Left. If you prefer, you can double-click the style name to open the CSS Rule Definition dialog.
5 CHANGE ROLLOVER COLORS
The trick to changing the colors of the drop-down menu items is that in CSS, these colors are assigned to the link styles, which have multiple states. To change the background and text colors of links as they display when a page first loads, you’ll need to edit the style named, “ul.MenuBarHorizontal a.” To change the colors that appear when you roll a cursor over a link, edit the background and text colors in the style, “ul.MenuBarHorizontal a.MenuBarItemHover, ul.MenuBarHorizontal a.Menu….” (Note: If you created a vertical menu, these style names will include “Vertical” instead of “Horizontal.”)
6 TEST YOUR WORK EARLY AND OFTEN
Many changes to these styles are only visible when you view the page in a Web browser or in the new Live View option (available in Dreamweaver CS4). If you click on the Live View button at the top of the workspace, you can preview the page and test interactive effects, such as rollovers, without leaving Dreamweaver. This is a handy way to check things, such as whether the rollover color is set the way you want it. Don’t be afraid to experiment; you can always change the style definitions back if you don’t like the way something looks.
7 CHANGE THE FONT FACE AND SIZE
By default, a Spry drop-down menu will display in the font specified in the body style—or in the closest parent style—for the page. You can alter your drop-down menus so that the font is different than other text on the page by adding a font style to the style named, “ul.MenuBarHorizontal.” Double-click on the name of the font to open it in the CSS Rule Definition dialog (shown here) and then enter a font face or choose a font collection from the Font-family drop-down menu.
8 CHANGE THE WIDTH OF MENU ITEMS
You can change width settings in the style named “ul.MenuBarHorizontal li.” By default, the width is set to 8 em. For those not familiar with the em option, it specifies sizes based on the size of the letter M in the font face used in the style. This flexible option is a great way to set the width of these link boxes to best fit their contents. If you have longer names and they wrap, you can increase this size, for example to 10 em, to get all of the text on one line. A little goes a long way with em sizes.
9 CHANGE THE WIDTH OF SUBMENU ITEMS, TOO
If you want the drop-down items to display in the same width as the main menu items, you’ll have to adjust the Width setting for the drop-down list in two other styles. Again, a little goes a long way when adjusting em sizes, and you’ll notice a slight difference with these two. If you change the main link width from 8 em to 10 em, you should change the 8.2-em Width setting to 10.2 in the styles named “ul.MenuBarHorizontal ul” and “ul.MenuBarHorizontal ul li.”
10 EDIT MENU ITEMS IN THE PROPERTY INSPECTOR
When a menu bar is inserted, Dreamweaver includes placeholder text for several menu items and submenu items, such as Item 1, Item 2, etc. To edit menu and submenu items, click the blue Spry Menu Bar tab (at the top-left of the menu in the workspace) to select it and then use the settings in the Property inspector. Simply click on the menu item or submenu item that you want to change and then select the text in the Text field on the right and then type over it to replace it.
11 ADD MENU ITEMS
To add menu or submenu items click the plus (+) sign at the top of the corresponding menu field, or click the minus (-) sign to delete an item. For example, you can add a third-level menu item by selecting a submenu item and then clicking the plus sign above the third menu field. Be sure to change or add text in the Text field in the far right of the Property inspector.
12 CREATE AND EDIT MENU LINKS
To turn any menu item into a link, select the item in the Property inspector and enter the URL in the Link field. You can also use the browse button (hint: it looks like a yellow file folder) to locate and select any file in a website and set the link automatically. If you’re setting a link to a top-level menu item, you can also select the text in the main workspace and set the link in the Property inspector, or use the Hyperlink icon in the Common Insert menu.
13 PREVIEW IN A BROWSER TO TEST
To fully test a drop-down menu, you’ll need to preview your page in a Web browser, such as Safari, Internet Explorer (IE), or Firefox. Ideally, you should test using all three of these browsers (and others) to ensure that the menu works well for all your visitors. Drop-down menus can be especially tricky when it comes to displaying in different Web browsers. If you’re having trouble with IE and you’re viewing the menu on your local computer, make sure you click to Allow Blocked Content at the top of the browser window.