Macromedia Launches Studio 8

Company says workflow is improved in new release, which includes latest versions of Flash Professional, Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

Macromedia Inc. Monday announced Macromedia Studio 8, the new version of its suite for Web designers, video professionals and graphic artists to design, develop and maintain interactive online applications and content.

Macromedia Studio 8 is the first release of the San Francisco companys Studio suite since 2003, said Jim Guerard, vice president of product management for the tools business at Macromedia.

Macromedia Studio 8 features the latest releases of Macromedia Flash Professional, Dreamweaver and Fireworks, as well as Contribute and FlashPaper.

The new release improves workflow features and includes new video encoding tools, new CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) enhancements, visual authoring tools for XML, and new tools for authoring and testing mobile content, Guerard said.

"With the new release, one of the most important things we did was change the development process," said Guerard. "We went out and observed users and even videotaped them. So this is the most customer-driven release we have had."

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the future of Macromedias products.

Macromedias days as an independent company are numbered, as the company has agreed to be acquired by Adobe Systems Inc. for $3.4 billion. Company officials have predicted they will finalize the deal in September.

Flash Professional 8 features improved graphics performance, new graphics effects capabilities, new animation controls, script editor, Flash video features and workflow integration with video editing and encoding tools, the company said. The product also features a new custom easing tool, support for new effects, the FlashType font rendering engine, and support for building content for mobile devices.

"We are excited about the possibilities afforded by the Flash Professional 8 authoring tool to develop exceptional mobile applications," said Brad Brockhaug, senior director at Forum Nokia, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Macromedia also announced Monday the availability of the beta of Macromedia Flash Player 8, the next version of the Flash Player client runtime. Flash Player 8 features a new text-rendering engine, a new video codec, 8-bit alpha channel video, and performance and security improvements. Macromedia officials said Flash Player is installed on more than 600 million Internet-enabled devices and desktops.

Dreamweaver 8, also announced Monday, features CSS layout visualization, drag-and-drop integration of XML data feeds, enhanced support for XML and Extensible Style Sheet Language Transformations (XSLT), and easier incorporation of Flash Video content, the company said.

And Fireworks 8 enables designers and developers to create interactive CSS pop-up menus, more than 25 new blend modes, integration with Dreamweaver 8 and Flash Professional 8, and other features.

"Macromedia Fireworks 8 is critical for us to complete our new Internet portal and for maintaining the sites our students complete for nonprofit agencies and community organizations," said Rick Reece, instructional technology specialist for the Broward County Schools in Florida, in a statement. "Fireworks 8 enables us to quickly create high-quality images, move vector and bitmap files between other graphics programs, and build upon our design comps with ease."

Meanwhile, Macromedia Studio 8 includes Macromedia Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2. Contribute enables developers to modify or update content, and FlashPaper converts any file type to PDF or SWF file formats for Web readiness.

Macromedia Studio 8 is expected to ship in September. Pricing is $999 for a full license and $399 for an upgrade. More information is available at

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on image editing and Web publishing tools.