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Macromedia Studio MX

First Look at Fireworks and Dreamweaver MX By Adam Bell
In a move similar to what many software companies like Microsoft and Adobe have done in the past, Macromedia has rechristened their suite of Web Authoring applications with the introduction of Studio MX, which consists of the already released Flash MX and Freehand 10 along with just announced versions of Dreamweaver MX for web authoring and editing, Fireworks MX for creating web graphics and ColdFusion MX for creating dynamic content.

I've been able to get a first-hand look at both the new Dreamweaver and Fireworks MX and there's been a significant number of changes to both programs. Especially in the case of Dreamweaver. Both apps are now OSX ready and run great in both. If you're a Mac user, that alone may be reason enough to upgrade. But there is much, much more.

Both apps include the new collapsing palettes first introduced in Flash MX and will now be integrated in all Macromedia apps in one way or another. Another significant change for Fireworks users is the long-awaited addition of a property inspector similar to that already in place in Dreamweaver and also now in the new Flash MX as well. This is a great feature that should have been in Fireworks from the beginning. If you're already used to using the inspector in Quark, you'll have no problems getting the hang of this.

The new look of Fireworks with its' Property Inspector and Collapsible Palletes
Click on image for closer view

Another much-needed panel was the addition of an Align panel to align graphics ala Freehand and Illustrator. What took so long? You could always do it but previously the only way to do it was via a pull-down menu on the top and it was always a chore. This is a major improvement and I always keep it on my panel list.

Other new additions to Fireworks include the creation of Horizontal Pop-Up Menus. If you liked the Pop-Up menu feature in the previous version of Fireworks, you'll love this one as you can now make menu that go from left to right instead of just up and down. In addition you have greater control over where you want the menu placed and how the menu should be shaded and colorized.

The new Text tool and inspector in action
Click on image for closer view
Another major new feature is what's called the Data-Driven Graphics Wizard. It's kind of similar to dynamic features now in Illustrator 10. You create a graphic and then use variables defined with curly braces like {articleTopic} and then create an XML file that when connected to this image can create a series of images each with different body copy in the graphic. Excellent feature!

New RoundTrip features make it easy to go from Fireworks to the majority of Macromedia produced applications and then some.
Click on image for closer view
Another unique feature is Reconstitute Tables. Reconsti-what? In plain english, you can simply connect to any HTML page with a table layout that has image slices in it and Fireworks actually creates a PNG file that already has slices and all necessary JavaScript behaviors added. Definitely different. I'm not sure how many of you will actually need that feature, but it might be necessary at times. And any new feature to save time is OK in my book.

Great improvements have been made to the Text tool in the new Fireworks. You no longer have to create and edit your text in a text panel. (Although you still can if you want to). You can now create text directly in the document as well as import text created in PhotoShop 6 and STILL edit the text in Fireworks. Fireworks also will maintain the PSD layers and masks you create in PhotoShop as well.

Fireworks now allows you to make horizontal as well as vertical pop-up windows for your interfaces
Click on image for closer view
Fireworks now offers a new feature called Quick Export. It's a button on the top right of each file that brings up a pulldown menu in which you can immediate export the graphic or HTML directly into the program of your choosing.

Many other improvements have been made in Fireworks' Roundtrip features with other MX apps. For example, Fireworks could always create code for HTML tables but now you can integrate code into a already existing webpage without losing the code that you entered previously. In addition you can also export your tables to XHTML documents as well as HTML documents.

Oh yeah, XHTML. That's a new type of webpage that MX supports. Which brings us to......

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Related Keywords:Macromedia, Studio MX, Fireworks MX, Flash MX, Dreamweaver MX, Adam Bell

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