By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2005-10-17 Print this article Print

Is the latest version of Macromedia Inc.s Studio suite a swan song before its eventual absorption into Adobe Systems Inc.s Creative Suite? Or is Studio 8 simply what it appears to be—a major upgrade that significantly improves the two core components of the suite while removing an old component and adding some new ones?

Only time will completely answer these questions as Adobes acquisition of Macromedia awaits finalization and then the inevitable settling-in period with the two companies takes place. But based strictly on its merits, eWEEK Labs found Macromedia Studio 8, which shipped last month, to be a very worthwhile upgrade, especially for developers who use both the Flash Professional and Dreamweaver components.

Click here to read what Jim Rapoza thinks should happen to castoffs in the Adobe-Macromedia deal.
Studio 8s Flash Professional and Dreamweaver include major improvements that address previous weaknesses and increase usability across the board, both for code-oriented authors and those who are design-oriented.

Another major change in Macromedia Studio 8 is a shuffle of some of the suites components. Probably the biggest tweak is that the Studio suite no longer includes the Freehand drawing application. Suspicious types might conclude that Freehand is gone to make nice with Adobes Illustrator, with which it has long competed.

On the other hand, Freehand was never a good fit in the Web- and developer-oriented Studio, and its replacement by the Contribute 3 Web-content-creation tool makes good sense .

As in previous versions, Studio 8 runs on both Microsoft Corp. Windows and Apple Computer Inc. Mac OS X systems. In addition, the Flash Player continues its excellent cross-platform support, running on these platforms and on the Linux and Unix operating systems as well.

Studio 8 is priced at $999, with upgrade pricing at $399. This is significantly less than what customers would pay to purchase the components individually.

Next Page: Polished CSS capabilities.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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