Macromedia’s Studio 8 Now Shipping Sans FreeHand

Macromedia’s latest version of its suite of programs for creative professionals is now shipping, without one of its core programs: FreeHand. Is FreeHand the first casualty of the Adobe buyout? Macromedia says no.

Macromedia Studio 8 Box

When Macromedia annouced the newest version of its creative suite of software, Studio 8, one component of previous versions was conspicuously absent: FreeHand, a long-time competitor of Adobe Illustrator, didn’t make the cut.

According to Macromedia’s Freehand and Studio 8 page, FreeHand will continue to be developed and sold as a standalone product, but they don’t say when a new version can be expected. FreeHand MX, version 11.0.2, is still the newest version listed on Macromedia’s web site.

The decision to remove FreeHand from the Studio 8 suite was made prior to the acquisition announcement and was not related. The removal of FreeHand and the addition of Contribute and FlashPaper were based on customer research that found a greater need to address more aspects of a customer’s design, development and maintenance workflow.

Although FreeHand is absent from Macromedia Studio 8, there are two other applications added. Studio 8 now includes Dreamweaver 8; Flash Professional 8 (including a new Flash 8 Video Encoder); Fireworks 8; Contribute 3; and FlashPaper 2. According to Macromedia, Studio 8 offers a new level of expressiveness, efficiency, and simplified workflow to create websites, interactive media, and mobile content.

“Studio 8 is a huge leap forward,” said Stephen Elop, chief executive officer, Macromedia. “There are tremendous improvements to features and performance allowing designers and developers to build and deliver more expressive and compelling experiences for the web and devices in less time than ever before. Our beta testers worldwide agree: this release will fundamentally change the way people think about the creation and delivery of digital content.”

Dreamweaver 8

New features for Dreamweaver 8 include the ability to save workspace layouts allowing you to save groups of panels to customize different workflows. The Macintosh version now also has a tabbed interface like the Windows version, allowing you to switch between open documents quickly. CSS authoring is improved, and has improved the rendering of complex CSS in Design Mode so you have to check the page in a browser less often. The new zoom tool and the ability to drag guides will appeal to designers. Along with expanded XML support, this is a major upgrade.

Flash Professional 8

New in Flash Professional 8 is the ability to add built-in filter effects like drop shadows and blurs to movie clips and text fields; but Macromedia has left much of the rendering work to Flash Player 8. By using tags while creating the Flash project, the Flash player can now render filters in real time. The effects will be visible as the Flash Movie is executed on a web page.

Fireworks 8

Fireworks 8 includes a way to create popup CSS menus and export the images and CSS from within Fireworks. Simply select a hotspot or slice in your image to invoke the Pop-up Menu Editor. Its wizard-like interface will guide you through the menu creation process.
Fireworks 8 also boasts support for more file formats, including MacPaint, SGI, JPG 2000, and QuickTime Image.

A new panel allows you to insert special characters into text blocks. Selections can be converted to vector paths, and vector paths can be converted into selections. Recently used fonts now appear at the top of the font menu.

Contribute 3

Contribute is a simple web page editor that is meant for maintaining existing web sites, rather than a web site builder and editor like Dreamweaver. Its main function is to allow those who don’t necessarily build the web site to edit and update content without help from the webmaster, although even webmasters will like it for fast updates as well.

Contribute 3 includes an image editor that lets you perform simple image editing tasks, like scaling, cropping, rotating, and sharpening, as well as adjusting brightness and contrast.

System Requirements

Windows

800 MHz Intel Pentium III processor (or equivalent) and later
Windows 2000, Windows XP
256 MB RAM (1 GB recommended to run more than one Studio 8 product simultaneously)
1024 x 768, 16-bit display (32-bit recommended)
1.8 GB available disk space

Macintosh

600 MHz PowerPC G3 and later
Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4
256 MB RAM (1 GB recommended to run more than one Studio 8 product simultaneously)
1024 x 768, thousands of colors display (millions of colors recommended)
1.2 GB available disk space

This product must be activated over the Internet prior to use. Visit the Product Activation Center to learn more about activation.

Pricing and Availability

Macromedia Studio 8 is priced at $999 for the full version and $399 for the upgrade (special introductory price). Education, government, and volume pricing is available. To learn more about purchasing options, visit Macromedia.