Macromedia targets developers with Studio MX 2004 release

Macromedia Inc. delved deeper into its MX line recently, announcing new versions of Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks all packaged into Studio MX 2004.

“Studio MX 2004 is about taking our MX family of tools for designers and developers to the next level,” said Jeff Whatcott, senior director of product marketing for Macromedia in Newton, Mass. “It’s everything you need to build great experiences on the Web.”

After Macromedia launched the MX family in 2002, the company looked to add new capabilities to its tools, Whatcott said. That resulted in Studio MX 2004, which emerged with added integrated workflow for designing and developing Web sites and Internet applications.

For developers, the most significant change to the MX line is that “we’ve brought all of the leading tools for creating online experiences together in one package…it’s all the best-of-breed tools in one,” Whatcott said. “Web applications are becoming the way that people deliver experiences to their customers. The digital world is starting to permeate every part of our lives.”

The firm’s Web site and application builder, Dreamweaver MX 2004, now has added support for cascading style sheets: centralized files that allow Web developers to maintain consistency of design across thousands of pages.

Seattle-based plane manufacturer Boeing Co. is using Macromedia’s new tools to develop an e-learning site, said Christopher Rogers, lead programmer/analyst for training systems and support at Boeing.

The release of Studio MX 2004 combines “best-in-class development features into one single development suite,” Rogers said.

Macromedia will offer two versions of the Flash developer tools built around Flash Player, including Flash MX 2004 and Flash MX Professional 2004.

Whatcott said Flash has evolved in recent years and is now identified as an application development environment.

“It can create full applications that run in your browser or in your devices and connect back to server data,” he added.

Flash MX 2004 features TimeLine Effects, which allows designers to add common transitions such as blurs and drop shadows without scripting. It also has a wizard-style interface and features tighter integration with Dreamweaver.

Alternatively, Flash MX Professional 2004 adds more powerful application development capabilities and also offers forms-based development for Flash users, making development easier for programmers familiar with Microsoft Corp.’s Visual Basic.

There will also be integration with video and encoding tools to enhance the workflow for deploying video to the Internet, and connections to Web services.

The new products are expected to ship in September in Windows and Mac versions. Prices vary for each individual upgraded tool being offered, while the entire Studio MX 2004 will sell for US$899. The package including Flash MX Professional will be about US$999. Macromedia can also provide prices for upgrades.

– With files from IDG News Service