Macromedia Makeover


Unveiled this week, Studio8 will feature new versions of the DreamWeaver Web site development tool; Flash Professional for building interactive Web sites and mobile applications; and Fireworks for building graphics and images. In addition, the toolset now will include Macromedia&'s Contribute for basic content management and FlashPaper, which converts printable files into Flash documents or PDFs.

Gone from the bundle is Freehand, which will continue as a stand-alone product, said Jim Guerard, vice president of product marketing and management for tools at Macromedia, San Francisco.

The addition of Contribute could be attractive to VARs and site developers, said Andrew Levi, president of Aztec Systems, a Carrollton, Texas-based designer and implementer of Web sites.

“Contribute is cheap content management. Say you have bios on your Web site but don&'t want to put full enterprise content management behind them. Contribute lets you just change the text in what we call a non-administrable Web site,” he said. In addition, the company is simplifying upgrade pricing to Studio8, due to ship next month. Full retail price will be $999. The cost to upgrade from older versions of the suite or its component applications will be $399.

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Guerard said the suite will offer much better video handling. The new Flash8, for example, will enable designers to layer video atop video or other interactive content.

Peter O&'Kelly, an analyst at The Burton Group, said the new Flash8 is exceptionally strong. “Flash is already a de facto standard for creating beyond-the-basic Web-based interaction, and the new video stuff will make it a leader in broad-based Web video,” he said.

Macromedia, like Microsoft with Office, has to convince customers happy with older versions to move on, O&'Kelly said.

The suite is becoming “a more integrated development platform,” said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at InterArbor Soutions, Gilford, N.H.

Some see Macromedia having to respond to a new generation of Web tools, such as Ajax, which is open-source software used to create glitzy browser-based applications.

And all of this happens as Macromedia prepares to merge with Adobe Systems, another content creation tool provider. That deal is expected to close this fall. The combined company must detail a coherent channel strategy, something neither Adobe nor Macromedia has been known for.

“The road to enterprise and carrier adoption is tricky, and partners and channel [inertia] will be a challenge to overcome,” Gardner said.