Macromedia [announced](http://macromedia.com/software/studio/?promoid=BIOA) Studio 8 today.
It’s notable for what it doesn’t include. No Freehand. The [FAQ page explains:](http://macromedia.com/software/studio/productinfo/faq/#item-1-4)
>**Why was FreeHand removed?**
>After every release we do extensive research with our customers. Based on the feedback this time around, we decided to make a change. FreeHand was replaced by the addition of Contribute and FlashPaper to better fulfill the typical design-develop-maintain workflow needs of our customers.
>Note that owners of FreeHand can still upgrade into Studio 8 and continue to use their existing FreeHand license.
Macromedia also did away with their confusing upgrade pricing structure. If you have a license for *any* previous major Macromedia product, you can get Studio 8 for $399.
Unfortunately, while Macromedia allows you to have their applications running on both a desktop and a laptop, they must be on the same platform. Still. I’ve complained loudly about this, and I’ve given up yelling at Macromedia. I’m focusing my attention on Adobe and whatever combined Studio/CS type product they’re planning for after the merger. Complaining now to Macromedia is only to get a voice on the record, the damage is done. I own Studio MX 2004 for the PC, and DW and FW MX 2004 for the Mac. I will be upgrading my PC license only.
[Fireworks](http://www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks/) is the other application that is widely rumored to be on the chopping block in the Adobe-Macromedia merger, and it receives a bit of a reprieve with a new version here. But I’m not seeing any “wow, I gotta get that” features in the new version. Nice, not wow. Certainly not wow if you already own Photoshop CS2.
I’m looking for stability and interface improvements in Fireworks, and I’m not sure I’m going to find it. For example, in every Adobe application you can use basic math in measurement fields. Let’s say you have an object that is at X=425 and Y=30. You need to move it over 16 pixels to the right. Just type the calculation in the field, hit “enter” and viola. It does the math automatically.
Fireworks MX 2004 only accepts full, round numbers in fields. This is the application where I need that feature the most, since precise positioning is required. 441 pixels must be 441 pixels when I code the CSS in Dreamweaver. 440 pixels won’t do or you’ll see the little line where it’s not perfect. I end up having the Calculator application open when I’m working in Fireworks MX 2004. Silly.
Font handling in FWMX 2004 is also very poor. Most of the time I need to set type in Illustrator and bring it in to Fireworks as art rather than set the type in Fireworks.
I prefer Fireworks over Illustrator or Photoshop for working with web graphics because it does a better job of JPEG/PNG compression and for the roundtrip editing. But it has some sloppy bugs that I hope the new version works out. Best of all worlds in my mind is for Adobe to dump Image Ready and keep Fireworks, working on its interface quirks and leave the Photoshop-like features to well…Photoshop. Maybe it will happen.
[Dreamweaver](http://www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/) has a few “gotta have it” features for me.
When Dreamweaver first introduced DHTML the big thing was that you could lay out elements visually on a screen without coding in a linear fashion in tables. Stick that box wherever you want and DW does the rest. Now it appears that DW 8 is selling that feature again, this time using CSS for positioning of the elements instead of layers/DHTML? One can hope.
CSS gets another major overhaul. What I’ve always loved about DWMX 2004 is that it does a great job of treating the CSS and the HTML page as a single unit. Click on an HTML element in the code or design view, and then see in the CSS panel exactly what attributes are applied to that element *and* what attributes it is inheriting up the cascade. This is huge, and I don’t know how to debug a CSS layout with it. DW 8 now appears to give you that visual feedback of how the elements are affecting each other in the design view as well as in a new integrated CSS panel. I saw that and started reaching for my credit card. Add collapsing elements in code view and you had me at hello.
In place of Freehand, Macromedia is including [Contribute 3](http://www.macromedia.com/software/contribute/) and the full version of [Flash Professional](http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/flashpro/). All I can say regarding Contribute is IT’S ABOUT TIME. How ridiculous was it that you had to buy Contribute separately in order to configure it for your clients? I now have one client, of course. But I think this will still be useful for me.
Looks like this will all be shipping next month.