Macromedia Opens New Studio

Eight is the number for Macromedia , which unleashed

its Studio 8 suite of Web tools and applications, chock-a-block full of

features, including advanced integration between the toolsets.

Built with Web designers, developers, video professionals and graphic

artists in mind, the suite includes Macromedia’s Dreamweaver, Flash

Professional and Fireworks applications, along with key productivity tools

such as Contribute and FlashPaper.

Less experienced developers may find

themselves upgrading to more advanced Web design, thanks to the expanded

drop-down menus and visualization features that save them from hard-coding

sites and applications between toolsets.

Take the new features in Dreamweaver, Macromedia’s design tool for

incorporating video. Jim Guerard, vice president of product management for

Macromedia, told internetnews.com the latest version includes visual

tools that simplify the integration of XML-based content, such as RSS

feeds, into Web sites. It includes code hinting for XML and

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT).

“The releases represent what customers have been telling us” about design

needs and improvements to building Web pages and interactive content, he

said.

Designers working with Cascading Style Sheets now have a

panel that provides a view to complex CSS-based layout, which helps them

compare how the styles apply to the content. This eases the trial-and-error

process that is often part of working with CSS. The idea is to give newer

users a leg up and advanced users more precision.

Zoom and guides tools help developers get a closer look of images at the

pixel level in order to measure distances between objects in design

compositions. Plus, a new code collapse tool helps them focus on specific

code, while a new coding toolbar helps developers pluck common coding

functions in a snap, while taking care of background transfers and upload

functions at the same time, Guerard added.

If all the toolsets have one theme in mind, it’s about working with

interactive video. With the Dreamweaver tools, Flash video can be

incorporated into a Web site in five clicks. Plus, it offers support for

Macromedia’s ColdFusion MX7 and scripting language PHP 5 .

It’s all riding atop Macromedia’s Flash Platform, including the latest

Flash Player (version 8), the driving force behind the release that also

launched Monday with a bevy of snazzy upgrades to the runtime environment.

Guerard said Flash Professional 8 marks a significant release for the

authoring environment behind the rich client run time in Flash Player.

Graphics performance is beefed up, along with improved effects, animation

controls, video encoding and embedding features and workflow integrating. It

features On2 Technologies’ VP6 video codec for compression of video and an

advanced text-rendering engine.

Call it a richer content creation experience with integration between the

different toolsets the keyword.

For example, Fireworks 8, a lightweight graphics and images tool for Web

design, features interactive CSS-style pop-up menus, over 26 new blend

modes, easier importing with different file formats, and a less-bumpy

roundtrip editing experience among Dreamweaver 8 and Flash Professional 8

tasks.

Workflow needs are improved with Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2, as well.

For example, Contribute 3 offers developers a more controlled,

template-based workflow environment for updating content on a site. FlashPaper 2 extends the content-creation process by converting any file

type into Web-ready PDF or SWF file formats, Macromedia officials explained.

The Studio 8 suite is expected to ship in September. Pricing is $999 for

a full license (NA commercial) and $399 for an upgrade (NA commercial) with

education, government and volume pricing available.

News Around the Web