Macromedia Studio 8
Having verified with Macromedia that Studio 8 would be shipping mid-September, I just saw that the "pre-order Studio 8" has been removed, so I went ahead and purchased the boxed set.
With Studio 8, you get the latest releases of Dreamweaver, Flash Professional, Fireworks, Contribute and FlashPaper. This, certainly, is enough to keep me busy and, shall we say, engrossed for some time. And I'll mention that if you've got any of these Macromedia programs, you can buy the upgrade kit for $399. Assuming that Dreamweaver upgrades usually run around $199, that's Flash Professional and the other programs for $200.
Now, lest the I-like-code-I-hate-Flash crowd get the wrong idea, I'm not planning to switch to building fully-interactive Flash-only 20MB-per-page websites. Not at all. But, in my view, an awful lot can be done with Flash that can't be done so well nor so easily with other technology. For instance, I recently redesigned a band website featuring a several-minute music video of the band. Given the band's extensive use of Macs (you should have seen their studio), and my and the rest of the world's predominant ownership of PCs, file format and size were a huge, frustrating and ongoing issue. Do people have … Quicktime? Winamp? Windows Media Player? Then there were the quality issues.
As a contrast, a recent Adobe email newsletter; here's the first in the CS2 series, Adobe Photoshop CS2, that made me buy the program even though I had Photoshop CS and no intention whatsoever of upgrading to CS2 … before I saw the movie. Utilizing Flash, including a nice voiceover, it sells the item like crazy. I don't think that I can be convinced that simple text and screenshots could possibly be more effective. Here's the Adobe InDesign CS2 page. It takes WYSIWYG to a whole new level. I know I'm going to want that little item when we start laying out books for print.
And before that, I'm probably going to want to do some Flash illustrative work for a science fiction book site we're doing. Screenshots, characters, settings, mood, voice … something I've dreamed about since I first thought about doing the whole book online. No, you don't need to do an all-Flash site in order to communicate like crazy with your audience.
Yes, my frustration quotient will likely go up for a time. Undoubtedly ("dang, I have to learn something new … it isn't intuitive … at least to me"). But I also recall a rather intense six weeks of getting my wits wrapped around Photoshop — something that's still plaguing new designers. That was long, long ago (1997-ish); and while I've spent the last many weeks tussling with one database or another, I'm up for something new.
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