Building Out Web Skills

Macromedia and Adobe upgrade tools for constructing online sites.

The latest release of Macromedia Inc.s Flash-rich client technology is aimed at merging the skills of Web designers and developers.

The San Francisco companys Flash MX, unveiled this week, enhances the Flash development environment with support for video, application components, accessibility and Internet-enabled appliances.

Macromedias announcement comes a week after Adobe Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., released competitive tools: Adobe LiveMotion 2.0, a Web graphics and Flash animation tool, and GoLive 6.0, a Web authoring tool.

Flash users are touting the release of Flash MX as a major advance for the technology.

"Flash has finally evolved from a design program to a robust authoring suite with Flash MX," said Steve Street, founder of Hookumu Inc., a builder of Web applications in Londonderry, N.H. "Macromedia has included in MX a development environment aimed at programmers with useful debugging tools as well as a much-needed ActionScripting search utility.

"Designers and developers will benefit from the more efficient file sizes and mature functionality of the core tool sets, but for those using Flash to create intelligent Web applications, Flash MX is a huge step in the right direction."

"Flash MX represents the next evolution of the Web," said Jason Weiner, a developer with Son Heavy Industries Inc., in San Rafael, Calif. "For nearly a half-decade, theres been disparity between seeing pretty moving pictures and experiencing the power of customized, dynamic interaction. That gap has been bridged with Flash MX."

The video content in Macromedias Flash enables developers and designers to maintain control of the look and feel of applications without requiring external players to be launched, said Macromedias chief technology officer, Jeremy Allaire. The development environment also features pre-built user interface components to speed development time.

Included in Flash MX is the Sorenson Spark video codec, from Sorenson Media Inc., of Salt Lake City. The tool enables developers to integrate rich digital video into Flash Web applications.

In addition, Macromedia this week is previewing its upcoming server technology, ColdFusion MX. ColdFusion MX is for creating applications with Flash MX.

LiveMotion 2.0 delivers expanded content creation features, improved integration with Adobes Web and dynamic media tools, and new scripting capabilities to move developers beyond basic Web animation.

Adobes GoLive 6.0 delivers features to make Web design workflow run smoother. Its Workgroup server enables teams to collaborate, and it delivers new dynamic content capabilities and provides support for data-driven transactions for e-commerce.