Macromedia has announced the availability of Studio 8, the latest version of the company's software suite for the design, development and maintenance of interactive online experiences.
Available locally from e-business enablement specialist and Macromedia distributor, Dax Data, Studio 8's advanced graphics, text, animation, video and audio tools will allow websites, Web applications, games, presentations and mobile content to reach a new level of design and development sophistication.
Says Dax Data MD, Jeremy Matthews: "Studio 8 offers new levels of efficiency and simplified workflow, speeding the design, development and maintenance process with enhanced round-tripping between Macromedia products and integration with third party products. Key features include batch rendering of creative assets, batch encoding of digital video and widespread performance enhancements for faster project development."
According to Jim Gerard, Macromedia's vice president product marketing, product management for its tools business, Studio 8 is the biggest software release in the company's history. "We have made significant improvements in both the depth and the breadth of the product offering. In terms of depth there are huge releases of the core products within Studio - Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks.
"In terms of breadth, we have optimised and changed the mix of Studio based on customer feedback and have introduced productivity tools that will facilitate the routine maintenance and administration work, allowing developers and designers to concentrate on their core functions."
This change in the mix sees Studio drop Freehand (which will remain an important tool for Macromedia) and included the latest versions of Contribute and FlashPaper.
Contribute 3 allows team leaders to set up and administer a website and then distribute the maintenance and update work to other users without ever losing control of the look and feel of the site. FlashPaper 2 aids productivity by allowing users to take all printable documentation that could be used on the website and with a single click convert it into pdf files or lightweight FlashPaper files.
The other major components of Studio 8 are Dreamweaver 8 for building websites and applications, Flash Professional 8 for developers looking to build compelling and rich digital content and Fireworks 8 for the creation and optimisation of Web images.
Says Matthews: "Features of the latest FlashPlayer include a new Video Codec, which greatly improves the quality and interactivity of video on line, a new text rendering engine that greatly improves the font display and control abilities, enhanced realtime graphic rendering capabilities. Macromedia has also introduced new technology around auto updating and inline installation which will dramatically accelerate the already fast adoption rate of the player."
Flash Professional 8 boasts new graphic filters and blend modes, an improved text tool and delivers better run-time performance. Its enhanced mobile capabilities allow users to author, preview and test content for FlashLite and there is an integrated and standalone video encoder. Users can now also embed cue points to trigger interactivity.
"Users' quality of experience is enhanced by the addition of powerful anti-aliasing control, a new, high quality text rendering engine and file upload/download for Flash applications," says Gerard. "Fireworks 8 sees a dramatic improvement in the integration capabilities with Flash and Dreamweaver and is the ideal tool for optimising images and graphics for the Web. Improved image editing and 25 new blend modes offer unmatched creative capabilities."
Adds Matthews: "The main themes governing the development of Dreamweaver 8 are best practices, efficiency and advanced technology support. In terms of best practices, there is now a very simple visual way to author XML data and dramatically improved CSS capabilities guaranteeing ease-of-use.
"In terms of efficiency, Macromedia has introduced new tools for designers such as zoom and guide, while coders will appreciate new functionality such as code collapse, a code tool bar and the ability to do background file transfer. Finally, Dreamweaver 8 incorporates advanced support for ColdFusion MX 7 and PHP 5 and Flash Video is now even easier to do, requiring just five mouse clicks."
Adds Gerard: "Representing Macromedia's most significant release ever, Studio 8 offers Web designers and developers a new level of expressiveness, efficiency and simplified workflow to create websites, interactive experiences and mobile content."
Studio 8 at a glance
* Dreamweaver 8 is the professional choice for building websites and applications providing a combination of visual layout tools, application development features and code editing support.
* Flash 8 provides creative professionals with the capability to integrate animation, video, text, audio, and graphics into engaging user experiences that span a wide variety of digital devices, from desktop to mobile phone.
* Fireworks 8 lets creative professionals create and optimise images for the Web with precise control in an intuitive, customisable environment.
* Contribute 3 provides powerful control for professional Web designers and developers, allowing them to maintain, distribute and control website content while empowering content owners to participate in the Web editing process.
* FlashPaper 2 allows anyone to convert printable files into Macromedia Flash documents or PDF files.