Reading Macromedia's tea leaves
“What are you working on?” my wife asked just as the clocks were striking midnight on the East Coast this morning.
Which is when my wife, for reasons known only to her, began to sing in her best Phil Collins impression, “Stu, Stu, Studio.”
Well, there’s a suite for working on the Web That will make your to-do list ebb Stu, Stu, Studio…whoa-ho!
(Anyone in Macromedia’s marketing department who winds up using that little ditty in future promotional materials, you know where to send the check.)
But the unveiling of Macromedia Studio 8 does something more significant than inspire people to break out into renditions of 1980s Top 40 hits from former Genesis drummers; it also gives us our first good look at what might happen to Macromedia’s assorted programs once Adobe wraps up the $3.4 billion purchase of its one-time software rival. Back when the buy-out was announced in April we could all make our best guesses as to what the future held for Adobe’s software library. (My colleague, David Sawyer McFarland, did just that, with most of his predictions looking pretty spot on at this point.) But now that we can see what’s included in Studio 8—and what’s missing—those guesses can become a little bit more educated.
Macromedia vice president of product management Jim Guerard tells our Jim Dalrymple that it’s impossible to speculate on how the Adobe deal is going to affect Macromedia’s stable of products. Actually, it’s remarkably easy to speculate about that. Speculating correctly —now, that’s the trick. But I’m willing to be as wrong in public as the next guy.
• Given the scope of the changes introduced in Dreamweaver 8, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Web-page authoring program will exist long after Macromedia is subsumed into Adobe. This just doesn’t feel like a placeholder update. In fact, given Dreamweaver’s spot as the program of choice for the majority of Web designers, I’d bet that if any Web program were to disappear, it would be the underwhelming GoLive. Maybe the programs get merged together under a new name—let me cast a vote right now for GoWeave—but any resulting hybrid will most likely resemble Dreamweaver.
• David Sawyer McFarland was onto something when he suggested last April that Flash was probably the impetus for Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia. And there’s nothing in Flash Professional 8 that would suggest that application is going to go away anytime soon.
• I can’t say the same for Fireworks. The changes introduced in Studio 8, while interesting enough, don’t strike me as particularly earth-shattering. (Fireworks users, feel free to correct me.) I suppose the product could continue to exist in a post-merger world, but integration with another app seems a more likely route—at least it does from the safety of my keyboard.
• So Macromedia dropped FreeHand from the Studio suite, huh? Well, that’s not an encouraging sign if you happen to be a fan of the illustration app. Even less encouraging is Guerard’s statement that the program “continues to be an important and successful product for the company, and we will continue to sell, support, and maintain it as a standalone product,” since it sounds an awful lot like the things Adobe used to say about PageMaker or the Mac version of FrameMaker before those apps were put out to pasture. (Maybe software companies need to find a new way to talk about obviously doomed programs—“FreeHand and I have agreed to see other people,” “FreeHand is going to go live on a farm out in the country with other illustration programs,” or something along those lines.)
Obviously, Mac users may have some reservations about upgrading to Studio 8: why should I pony up a couple hundred dollars for a program that may be dropped the second Adobe takes over? Just as obviously, neither Macromedia nor Adobe can really comment definitively on post-merger plans until the deal goes through. But in a way, the additions to both Dreamweaver and Flash are enough of a definitive comment about the future of those products.