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Macromedia Ships Freehand MX

Studio MX Plus, DevNet also announced By Dave Nagel
Macromedia has announced Freehand MX, the latest release of the company's vector illustration suite. The new version gains several new creative tools and also sees some interface tweaks to bring it in line with the rest of the MX family. Macromedia has also announced Studio MX Plus and a new subscription service called DevNet. Freehand MX and Studio MX Plus will be available today. DevNet will launch in March.

I had a chance to see Freehand MX in action. The new version offers several new features for creative production, though it also gains the standard MX family interface overhaul. It also sees improvements in integration with other MX programs--including Flash MX and Fireworks MX--and gains some workflow enhancements. For example, all objects are now editable through an integrated Objects panel. It also gains drag and drop ActionScripting and the ability to apply automated navigation features to its multiple pages for output to interactive presentation formats, such as .swf.

New creative features include the ability to extrude 2D objects in simulated 3D space with complete editability and options for extrusion methods. It can also use paths to shape the extrusion. And its new Eraser tool allows users to erase portions of vector objects, similar to the way eraser tools work in raster imaging programs.

For effects, Freehand MX includes a new Multiple Attributes feature, which allows an unlimited number of attributes to be applied to a single object, such as transparency, strokes, fills and effects. And it also gains "Live Effects," such as bevel, blur and transparency, while maintaining editability.

According to Macromedia, the new version has been further optimized for Mac OS X as well. (Freehand 10, the previous release, was also available for Mac OS X.) We'll provide you with an in depth review of the program's new features within the next week.

Macromedia has also launched Studio MX Plus, a collection of creative tools that replaces the old Studio MX for Windows only. In addition to the applications previously included with Studio MX (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and ColdFusion MX Developer Edition), Studio MX Plus incorporates Freehand MX, Contribute and the DevNet Resource Kit Special Edition. (This includes content from the previously released Macromedia MX Developer Resource Kits Volume 1 and 2, including extensions, components and resources for building Web applications.) Macromedia has not said when a version for Macintosh will be available. One of the applications in Studio MX Plus, Contribute, is a Windows-only program, though a Macintosh version is expected eventually.

The company has also announced DevNet, a subscription service for Macromedia developers set to launch in March. DevNet is a set of tools, servers, extensions, components and other resources available on an annual subscription basis. The subscription is offered at two levels: Professional and Essentials. Professional includes the tools in Studio MX (Macintosh) and Studio MX Plus (Windows), as well as free upgrades and additional resources. (Applications obtained through the subscription do not expire when the subscription lapses.) Subscribers also gain advance access to quarterly DevNet Resource Kits. The Professional version runs $1,499, and annual renewals cost $999. Studio MX users can upgrade for $599. DevNet Essentials includes only the advance DevNet Resource Kits and runs $299.

Freehand MX is available now as a download for $399 for the full version. Upgrades from Freehand 10 or Studio MX run $99. Upgrades from Freehand 9 run $149. It's available for Macintosh and Windows. Studio MX Plus is also available today for Windows for $899. Macromedia DevNet subscriptions will begin in March. Pricing varies by the program. For more information, visit

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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