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Software package containing Dreamweaver MX, Fireworks MX, Flash MX and Freehand 10

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      24.11.2003 21:29
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      Click down to read this review as it was intended. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a .a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a. Having just returned from a Macromedia conference and now used Studio MX for about a month I’m going to attempt the impossible and write an accessible review about this huge and complex product. (Studio MX 2004 is a suite of Macromedia authoring tools aimed at web site developers and product designers.) Let’s start by getting to the point! If you want to create a home site for your family or a club you are a member of, Studio MX is definitely going to be a case of taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. However, that is not to say you need to be big business to enjoy using it and get good value from it. As a primary school we recently invested in the educational license and for an idea of what adults and children can accomplish see our school site: www.northprospect.plymouth.sch.uk I used Flash for some of our animations, the pupils aged between seven and nine years old used Flash for a hugely impressive (if you have broadband) stop motion animation piece of work. Studio MX 2004 is the latest incarnation of this software. The three packages that have had a 2004 update are Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks. Freehand is included but the 2004 update is still not ready at the time of writing. The buzz words from Macromedia in this latest update is ‘Experience matters’. All the upgrades are about developing and improving the user experience to make the web seem a more reliable and user friendly place to be. So, rather than trying to review the full feature set, let’s take a look at what is improved in the latest version. We will look at each package in turn. DREAMWEAVER MX 2004 It is now not possible to neglect style sheets in this version of Dreamweaver. When you create a site, cascading style sheets (CSS) are created automatically. This is a good thing as it means changes to the appearance of the whole site can be made in seconds. Dreamweaver now comes with cross browser validation. This may not sound like much but as a developer that tries to write for a number of different browsers, this is really important. You tell Dreamweaver which browsers you are targeting and it checks your code to ensureyour site will display correctly in your target browser. If there is going to be a problem it h
      ighlights the problem in the code so you can go straight there and fix it. Dreamweaver 2004 comes with a range of templates based on standards. These would almost certainly have involved additional outlay in the previous version so it is good to see some included. Word and Excel documents can now be imported seamlessly. Better, if you import an Excel document you not only get the table formatted correctly but also have the option to bring in the formatting from Excel so you maintain the look and feel of the site. Dreamweaver 2004 includes built in editing of Flash documents and images so if you only need make small changes there is no need to start up a whole application to do so. A range of server side technologies have been included so no need for extensions for these. In addition, some exciting extensions have also been included so no need to pay extra for some of the most common extensions such as graphs being built on the fly. Finally, Dreamweaver 2004 now includes secure FTP. (At long last some will say!) FLASH MX 2004 First of all you may wonder why use Flash for development. Here are the statistics. 98 per cent of web users have the Flash Player installed and 90 per cent of those have the, until recently, latest player. Flash Player 7, the very latest player designed for this release, is being downloaded at more than 5 million copies per day! It is worth upgrading to Flash Player 7 if you haven’t already as it is more than twice as fast as the previous incarnation and therefore even items such as streamed video will come through more quickly. Flash MX 2004 now has improved action script. Personally I’m not going to benefit a whole lot from that but other power users may. Flash is now able to take in CSS (cascading style sheet) files so good news for those who have a Dreamweaver site – Flash files will automatically take on the same look and feel. Timeline effects, behaviours and tem
      plates all add to the ease of use of the product. People who have dipped their toes in the ocean of features offered by Flash will now how bewildering the animation process can be … not any more. Select an object and take a look at the timeline effects. Most of what you want to do has already been coded … it really is easy. Flash 2004 is able to take in a number of additional media formats that all in all makes it a far more flexible product. Many elements that used to require coding have now been pre-created so video buttons for example is a case of drag and drop. FIREWORKS MX 2004 More of the same here really. This package now includes the Dreamweaver site management facilities as does Flash so if you are part of a team working on a site you can see what others are doing. The most significant improvement in Fireworks is the performance. Macromedia boast 65-80% performance boost and it certainly is noticeably quicker in graphic manipulation functions than its predecessor. The only significant improvement other than those noted are the addition of a motion blur tool providing scope for some new and exciting graphic effects. OVERALL Overall this is an impressive upgrade. If you are entitled to an educational license like us it is remarkable value for money. If you want software for your home page though unless you are a real hobbyist, this is probably not going to be your thing. Anyone involved in web site development professionally needs to be using this software … it is the best on the market.

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