Macromedia Studio 8.0

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Macromedia Studio 8.0

Pros

  • Useful new features, Tighter integration

Cons

  • FreeHand drawing program absent, Few reasons to upgrade from previous versions

Bottom Line

Flash Pro 8's new video features are the biggest change, but the lack of knockout new tools leaves you with few reasons to upgrade.

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Macromedia has overhauled its Studio 8 Web suite, but many of the changes are outside the individual applications. Overall, the suite features tighter integration. If you work primarily in just one of the suite's big-name programs (Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, or Fireworks 8), however, you'll likely find few reasons to upgrade from Studio MX 2004.

Studio 8's rejigged lineup adds Contribute 3 for updating site content and FlashPaper 2 for converting files to Flash or PDF. Absent is the FreeHand drawing program, which was part of the two previous Studio releases.

Flash Professional 8 has the biggest changes. The vector-graphics program adds a new video encoder plug-in that gives you more ways to control how video plays. Flash Player 8 also gets an upgrade by way of On2 Technologies' new VP6 video codec, which promises improved playback.

Dreamweaver 8, the suite's Web-design program, features new tools that make it much easier to design and use Cascading Style Sheets. Fireworks 8, the suite's Web image editor, also adds CSS support, but more important are its tighter hooks to Dreamweaver and Flash. For example, Fireworks now imports Flash vector objects with colors, blends, and other attributes intact.

Despite the useful new features in Dreamweaver 8 and Fireworks 8, both feel more like point releases than major updates. However, the tighter links between the apps themselves could make the new suite worth the price.

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