Macromedia MX 2004 takes more 'dev-centric' approach
- By Jack Vaughan
UPDATED - It was once something of a Mac platform specialist, but Macromedia long ago expanded on its multimedia tool base by creating an increasingly powerful Dreamweaver product and then the Dreamweaver MX collection of Web development tools. This was all powerfully augmented by the addition of varied scripting and Java tools and engines a la ColdFusion, which it gained through a merger with Allaire Corp. a couple of years ago.
Like many of us, the problem the company has been trying to solve is how to build a true bridge between art and interface designers who drink lattes and create killer Web apps, and development and database specialists who work with business logic and middleware and drink Jolt cola. It is not easy.
On a development level, Macromedia's battle becomes the war between timelines and IDEs. Macromedia's early multimedia tools and its later, hugely successful Flash plug-in interface technology, rely on 'story board' timelines to build apps. Using this metaphor on a daily basis is a great leap for developers.
Behind the headlines circling the company's latest announcements of Macromedia Studio MX 2004 and Dreamweaver MX 2004 is a definite effort to address this problem. Software known as Flash MX Pro 2004 is part of the offering.
"Flash MX Pro adds additional application development functionality for putting video on the Web," said Jeff Whatcott, senior director, Macromedia.
The software comes with a choice of interfaces. "We found some developers that picked up Flash struggled with the timeline metaphor," explained Whatcott. "Now we've simplified that in the base version of Flash. And in Flash Professional, we've added new metaphors called 'forms.' Forms, in fact, would be similar to Wizard-type interfaces that developers know well."
Also set to get attention from Macromedia in new releases are Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). These Web page building techniques have not gained as wide adherence as they might, and improved CSS tool support, indicates Whatcott, is now in order.
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Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.