MX line had Dreamweaver in a starring role with its revamped interface,
extensive server-side behaviours, and expanded site management
features among dozens of new capabilities. Flash, also went through
extensive interface changes plus enhanced ActionScripting and new
greater - a full Web client/server development environ as Flash
moved firmly from being a primarily graphic designer to rich media
developer product. But clearly Flash played second fiddle to Dreamweaver
in the MX
Not this time. The star of MX Studio 2004 is Flash. Look
at the numbers and size of improvements and the emergence of a
1)Wizards for timeline effects simplify setting up 8 types
of animation sequences;
2)CSS support to help establish Flash page or site wide look and
3)Strong PDF and EPS file support with direct mappings into Flash
4)Improved video import with more encoding settings.
Also easier video control to manipulate, scale, rotate, skew, mask,
and animate video objects,add interactivity using scripting.
5)New Start page and templates for common Flash project types;
6)Improved help system plus spellcheck, find/replace streamlined;
7)Extensibilty of Flash opened to 3rd parties/end users using
8)New graphics capabilities with PolyStar tool, text aliasing control,
and bitmap trace features;
9)ActionScript 2 and V2 components draws closer to ECMAScipt standard and
10)2x to 10x speed improvements in ActionScript
compiles and Flash 7 player runtimes;
To this Flash Pro edition adds a distinctive visual programming
11)New forms and slide based development added to timeline(see screenshot
12)More V2 components using database-aware controls with server-side
13)Project panel and source control for large-shop development;
14)Professional video with 3rd party integration, 3 new media components
+ greater finishing;
15)Mobile and PDA device development emulators and deployment wizards
Macromedia is working vigourously to maintain control of
its Flash franchise as third parties such as eHelp's RoboHelp and
RoboDemo or Qarbon's Viewlet Builder offer Flash output with greater
ease of animation and demo development. But Macromedia is offering
3rd party integration options which vendors such as Swish, Swift
3D, and others are taking advantage of. Clearly Macromedia is capitalizing
on the void created by Microsoft - not going cross platform with
its products and interface wizardy other than a half-hearted effort
in Mac space plus limited mobile and PDA forays and no no no .. nothing
Linux. Having sabotaged Java and DHTML, there is crying need for
a cross platform, GUI/rich media client+server interface. And there
are many pretenders: XML's SVG+SMIL+XForms+MathML+++, ViewPoint's
MediaPlayer, Sun's Java. But clearly the leader, Macromedia Flash,
has once again enhanced its position with Flash MX 2004.
A Double Not a Home Run
However, the same cannot be said for the remainder of the MX2004
Suite and for that reason we call MX2004 a double not a home run.
For example, when Fireworks 2004 touts ever tighter integration,
faster speed, red-eye removal and Unicode support as 4 of the
top ten reasons to upgrade, developers have to wonder. Maybe 3rd
Ulead will plugin their vastly more improved graphics
editors into the MX2004 bus and steal some thunder from Fireworks.
Just duplicate and ditto these remarks for Freehand 2004. Meanwhile
Cold Fusion Developer edition has gone through a 6.1 version update
that makes broad speed, reliability, and runtime performance fixes
and upgrades. As well there are a number of lower level coding,
component and functionality improvements.
So the bottom line is if you are a Flash developer this is must-have
territory, Dreamweaver users wait for our detailed assessment.
This one is borderline because of the MIAs - no well-integrated
Fireworks, and Cold Fusion users - you may want to skip this upgrade.