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Having never used dreamweaver, I said I'd find out but haven't found an answer so far - can anyone comment?
...but it will depend on the source of the files and how they are compiled. for example DW users often employ static includes (library files) and templates to pages.
If these pages were then edited in Frontpage (also possible) the link correlation between the templates and the children may be lost. And vice versa.
Simple text and markup alterations can be carried out with DW in code view, the same goes for any text editor like notepad.
I recommend that you find out how the original files were created, and what technology has been applied. This will influence whether you think it will be safe to edit them outside of their originator software.
edit - added
Just re-read the title of this message - if the files are hand coded and are not showing up in design view in DW (MX?) it would indicate they are using a server side script like PHP. DW does not render server code in design view - it can only be rendered using a testing server and is a little more complicated.
Maybe you could post a snippet of the code so we can see what you are dealing with?
If the client has a reasonable knowledge of computers and is not afraid to try their hand, then having a go themselves is an option.
But if the site is doing well now, and the code is quite complex then it might not be the be place to start. Mistakes can be expensive to rectify.
Assuming they are honest, the best person to quiz about this would be the original designer/developer - because their understanding of the site markup/server code will be better than anyones.
[edited by: GrapefruiTgirl at 7:54 pm (utc) on July 29, 2006]