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Macromedia Unveils DevNet, Freehand MX

Web graphics software maker Macromedia on Monday rolled out the Freehand MX upgrade to its flagship MX product line and announced plans for Macromedia DevNet, a subscription-based software sales program.

The San Francisco-based firm's new subscription plan mirrors a general trend among big-name tech firms to implement paid subscriptions for software as a means to keeping revenue dollars flowing. Specifically, Macromedia's DevNet plan is offering a set of tools, servers, extensions, components, and other resources over a one-year annual subscription period.

The company, which goes head-to-head in the space with Microsoft , Adobe and Quark Inc., said the subscription service would be rolled out in two levels - Professional and Essentials.

DevNet Professional is styled as the premium subscription level for the Macromedia Studio MX software. It comes with single-user perpetual licenses to Macromedia products like Dreamweaver, Contribute, Flash, Fireworks and Freehand and would also issue development-only licenses of all Macromedia server products.

Macromedia said DevNet Pro, priced at $1,499 (existing Studio MX customers can upgrade for $599) would also include two technical support incidents per subscription term. Annual renewal fees will be $999

The DevNet Pro option has also been fitted with a personalized subscriber portal where users can download products, upgrades, extensions, and components through the portal and have them mailed on CD, the company said.

The lower-tiered DevNet Essentials, priced at $299, would complement existing Macromedia Studio MX tools with an annual subscription that provides advance access to the quarterly DevNet Resource Kits (DRKs), Macromedia said.

The software-by-subscription plan kicks off in March this year and Macromedia said special pricing would be available for government and volume customers.

News of the DevNet subscription launch comes on the day Macromedia released Freehand MX, a multi-publishing software for rich graphics design.

Freehand MX, priced at $399, would be an illustration tool within the MX suite and would provide tools for the reformatting of artwork for print, the Internet, and Macromedia Flash projects.

President of products at Macromedia Norm Mayrowitz said Freehand MS was built to allow graphic designers to move a project from concept to production in "single file, multi-page environment."

It comes fitted with the Macromedia MX user interface to allow users to work across Macromedia Studio MX applications. Freehand MX include a new 'Object' panel that automatically shows all properties that can be inspected and changed for a selected object and is optimized for Mac OS X.

Macromedia said Freehand would be tightly integrated with other Macromedia MX products to let users import, place, and preview Macromedia Flash (SWF) files within a Freehand document, and edit the file in Macromedia Flash MX using the Object panel.

Freehand also imports Macromedia Fireworks MX PNG files and keeps the objects and text editable, the company said.

Separately, Jupitermedia Corp.-owned ClickZ announced Macromedia Flash MX was adjudged product of the year in its Marketing Excellence awards. Flash MX is used to create rich media content and applications. Jupitermedia Corp. is the parent company of Internetnews.com.