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Macromedia To Ship Flash 5 Generator Studio Next Month
Several free Dreamweaver extensions also announced

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Macromedia today announced Flash 5 Generator Studio, a suite of tools for automating Web sites that use a Flash front end. The studio combines the authoring capabilities of Macromedia Flash 5 with the content delivery of Macromedia Generator 2 Developer Edition. Generator resides on a server and does not run under Mac OS.

Generator automatically produces graphics based on external data for tasks like inserting custom text into a Flash template. (For example, a single Flash file could have five different rotating text messages, each one animated in Flash.) Production tasks, such as creating versions of site graphics for multiple languages, can also be automated. Generator can output SWF, GIF, JPEG, PNG and Apple QuickTime formats.

Developers can also create custom Java objects with the included Software Development Kit. Additionally, Macromedia is offering a new series of Generator objects that make it easier to automate Macromedia Flash production, including the ability to pass variables from Generator into Macromedia Flash and enhanced XML integration capabilities. These new objects will be available at Macromedia's site in November.

The Macromedia Flash 5 Generator Studio will be available in November for $1,099. Existing Macromedia Flash customers who are upgrading to Macromedia Flash 5 can upgrade to the studio for $648 through Dec. 29, after which time the upgrade will cost $899. Flash 5 runs on Windows and Macintosh platforms. Generator 2 Developer Edition runs on Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000; Sun Solaris; and Red Hat Linux.

Macromedia also announced the availability of several new extensions for Dreamweaver, its HTML authoring tool. These include InstaGraphics Extensions, which enable Macromedia Dreamweaver developers to instantly create custom Web graphics automatically; the Labor Saver kit, a set of extensions that removes repetitive tasks to increase productivity; accessibility extensions; and additional integration between Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver, including a new extension that inserts the necessary HTML and JavaScript for displaying Macromedia Flash content into Dreamweaver documents.

The Labor Saver Kit consists of two extensions for site import/export and a favorites menu. Site Import/Export enables developers to save their Web site configuration as a file to ensure consistent site settings. The Favorites Menu gives developers quick access to frequently updated documents in their site, removing the task of digging through large groups of files to find the ones most frequently updated.

The accessibility extensions check the user's site to see whether it meets W3C guidelines for accessibility to the disabled.

All the new extensions are freely available at http://exchange.macromedia.com. The Macromedia Dreamweaver Exchange has been up since April and currently has about 250 free extensions available. To download the extensions, users need to sign up for a free account and also download the Dreamweaver Extension Manager. For more information about Macromedia, visit http://www.macromedia.com.

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