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Macromedia Studio 8 From The Inside: Exclusive Q&As With The Studio 8 Team

MXDJ brings you the inside story behind the most significant release in the history of Macromedia

Why is FreeHand not part of Studio 8? What do productivity tools Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2 add? What about Flex? Why has the product name changed from Studio MX 2004? What are the new video features in Studio 8? How about the role of Flash Player 8? These, and sundry other questions on every imaginable aspect of the new Studio 8 release, are addressed here by four executives at Macromedia speaking exclusively to MX Developer's Journal.

Jim Guerard, Vice President of Product Management and Product Marketing

MXDJ: How do you feel about the new Studio 8?

Jim Guerard: The groundbreaking nature of Studio 8 makes it the most significant release in the history of Macromedia. Since the release of Studio MX 2004 just under two years ago, we have focused our efforts on delivering a powerful, quality product based on extensive customer feedback. Studio 8 is by far the most customer-driven release in our history. We changed our entire product development process from the very beginning and had each product team literally traveling the globe to meet on site with more than 40 key customers, watching and documenting workflows and feature utilization - with very revealing results that drove our feature requirements. Our consultation with customers continued throughout the entire development process through Beta and ship.

As a result of meeting with our customers, we made huge improvements to the depth and breadth of Studio 8. We added dramatically to the depth of the software suite by including huge new releases of Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, and Fireworks 8, each of which include many new feature "firsts," feature enhancements, and general workflow improvements. In watching our customers' daily design and development patterns, it was obvious that website and application maintenance is a substantial part of their day. We therefore expanded the breadth of Studio 8 by including powerful productivity tools Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2 to address the need to streamline web content management and maintenance. Contribute and FlashPaper are easy to use tools that non-technical teams can use to create or update content, but in a controlled workflow. The business benefits are shared: teams get fresher content faster, and web designers and developers can focus on the design and development work they are so passionate about. Studio 8 now addresses the full workflow of designing, developing and maintaining on-line experiences.

MXDJ: In what ways do you think Studio 8 will change the industry?

JG: Studio 8 will let our customers go to new heights of creativity and efficiency, allowing them to create a new level of sophisticated interactive content to convey their brands, messages, products, and businesses better and more effectively than ever before.

The soul of Studio 8 is its amazing, new expressive toolset, allowing users to create truly sophisticated interactive content that was never before possible. Studio 8 offers numerous new capabilities such as advanced interactive video, real-time graphics effects, integration of XML data, dramatic new CSS functionality, and powerful new mobile authoring capabilities. Perhaps even more dramatic is the fact that we took the extra time to develop and implement simple user interfaces for these new features, or improve the interfaces to favored existing features, so that both designers and developers could work more productively.

We look forward to seeing what our designers and developers will create using the powerhouse new features available in Studio 8. They've always amazed us in the past and this time is no exception.

MXDJ: Why the change in the product name?

JG: Like the new features in the product, the new name was selected after market research and customer discussions, and both research efforts yielded positive endorsements. The shorter brand name "Studio 8" represents a more simplified and clearer identity for the suite.

MXDJ: What has changed from Studio 8 compared to Studio MX 2004?

JG: Aside from many new features in the individual products and improved interoperability between the products, we've optimized the product mix within Studio 8 by including Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2, and removing FreeHand. Also, there is only one version of Studio 8 which comes complete with Flash Professional 8. We have also made efforts to simplify doing business with Macromedia, and are now offering simplified upgrade paths and pricing. You can check out our website for more information on this.

MXDJ: Why was FreeHand removed?

JG: FreeHand was replaced by the addition of Contribute and FlashPaper to better fulfill the typical design-develop-maintain workflow needs of our customers. FreeHand is both an important and successful product, and will continue on as part of the Macromedia family of products.

MXDJ: Does mobile play a role in this release of Studio 8?

JG: Mobile has a very important role in Studio 8. Mobile content developers can use Flash Professional 8 to design, build, and test content with the advanced authoring environment and the new interactive mobile emulator tools for deploying content to mobile phones.

MXDJ: We understand there are some new video features in the Studio. Can you tell us some more about them?

JG: Studio 8 continues to offer innovative new tools and capabilities for video professionals and enthusiasts looking to deploy rich, interactive video experiences to the widest possible audience. New features in both Studio 8 and Flash Player 8 take video on the web to the next level offering 8-bit alpha channel video, a powerful new video codec, and advanced video encoding options.

The revolutionary new alpha channel support provides the unique ability to overlay video composited with a transparent alpha channel over any other Flash content. The new high-quality video codec provides superior video quality competitive with today's best video codecs at a much smaller size. Also included is a new video encoder plug-in for professional video editing software so digital video editors can export video directly to Flash from their favorite video editing and encoding tools. We've also included in Flash Professional 8, (and therefore, in Studio 8) a new stand-alone video encoder with batch processing capabilities that can be installed on a separate machine. Finally, in Flash Professional 8 we've unified all ways of creating and deploying Flash Video into one seamless workflow.

Furthermore, to ensure video enthusiasts can get up and running with Flash video as rapidly as possible, Flash video files can be quickly incorporated into Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 using an easy, five-click dialog driven process.

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MXDJ News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the world of software design and development and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for MX developers.

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