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Macromedia Studio MX - Training from the Source

You end up learning a little bit of everything about everything Macromedia makes. By Adam Bell

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Macromedia Studio MX Training from the Source
by Shaowen Bardzell and Jeffrey Bardzell
483 Pages $44.99 US/$64.99 CAN
Macromedia Press/Peachpit Press
click on image to buy
As I've mentioned in previous columns, I prefer learning software programs in 'learn as you go' books instead of huge 'bible' like passages.

Which is why I've always liked both the Adobe 'Classroom in a Book' series as well as the Macromedia 'Training from the Source' titles. And this is no exception here.

In this new book, you end up learning a little bit of everything about practically everything Macromedia makes. Well, almost everything. You won't learn about SoundEdit or Director or those infamous graphic apps of the past like Extreme3D or XRes. This book wasn't meant for that. It was meant to learn all of the programs in the current Macromedia Studio MX suite from Freehand to Flash and from Fireworks to Dreamweaver to ColdFusion. In many ways, this ends up becoming the books' biggest weakness as you'll see.

In the books' seventeen chapters, you'll design two different websites. A simple website for a mock organic food company called 'Jade Valley' and a more complex and dynamic site for a storytelling site based upon Dante's Inferno. In the case of the Jade Valley site, you'll develop an interface first in Fireworks including the design of the logo and the various buttons. You'll make rollover effects, slices and then export everything into Dreamweaver MX2004 for RoundTrip HTML. You'll eventually design print material for Jade Valley with FreehandMX to complete the package.

In the case of the Dante site, you'll create a Flash-based presentation that uses various hot spots that trigger dynamic text fields to display various bits of information created via ActionScript. You'll create drag-and-drop functionality with these hot spots that trigger the different scripts. You'll also use Flash and in particular, ColdFusion MX to create a short quiz in which a database can hold the questions, the names of the players who register and also a scoring system for the game in which the final score is presented in a dynamic page created in Dreamweaver.

As I mentioned before, while you will learn a decent amount of information on all five programs, you won't learn enough to make yourself a true expert in any of them. Also, I consider their methods of slicing the interface in Fireworks in the Jade Valley site to be to antiquated and would probably churn out too much unnecessary code in the resulting webpage. These days I create my interface in Fireworks but I now save each individual slice by themselves and then create the HTML in Dreamweaver. Takes longer, but it produces less code in most cases. While I thought the Dante's Inferno tutorials were very effective, they weren't if you wanted to create the quiz using a different dynamic connection tool like PHP or ASP.NET for example. I realize that this is a Studio MX-only book and ColdFusion should be featured over any and all other dynamic tools, but I have seen similar books that do discuss and offer tutorials for people who use PHP or similar languages. (New Riders' Building Dynamic Websites with Macromedia Studio MX2004 is an excellent example of this.)

While it will cost more, I do recommend other Training from the Source books that cover only one program or even just one feature of one program like the TFTS book that just covers ActionScript.

So I'll compare this book to eating at a Casino buffet. You'll have a little bit of everything, and you'll get full but you won't be completely satisfied because you didn't have enough Flash or Freehand or the ColdFusion Pasta Salad. Mmmmmm.....ColdFusion Pasta Salad.......

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Adam Bell is the Design Director, CEO, Videographer and sometimes janitor with ( amazingly not getting plastered in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA.
Related Keywords:Macromedia Studio MX, Freehand, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Shaowen Bardzell, Jeffrey Bardzell

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