Macromedia Weaves Web Upgrades

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Macromedia (415/252-2000, ) may be learning that the best way to compete with Adobe is to beat it at its own game. With the release of Macromedia's Dreamweaver 3 and Fireworks 3, Macromedia is trying to out-Adobe its rival by improving integration with popular Adobe products.

When Adobe (800/833-6687, ) bundled its ImageReady 2.0 with Adobe Photoshop 5.5–essentially making the Web image editor free to Photoshop users–it was a clear challenge to Macromedia, which has focused on Web graphics. With their tight integration and similar interfaces, ImageReady 2.0 and Photoshop 5.5 are designed to draw users away from Fireworks, a popular Macromedia program that lets you create Web graphics with a combination of vector and bitmap editing tools.

Going Native

Macromedia's response is Fireworks 3, which will now edit native Adobe files. You can import Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand files with full editability, and you can export Fireworks vector graphics as Illustrator files. You can import Adobe Photoshop files with layers and editable effects, and the program now works with third-party Photoshop plug-ins, such as Alien Skin's Eye Candy.

In addition to improving integration with Adobe products, Fireworks 3 lets you export SWF files for use in Flash 4, Macromedia's popular vector animation software. You can also preview rollovers and gamma differences between Macintosh and Windows displays.

Weaving HTML

The integration theme carries over to Dreamweaver 3, an upgrade to Macromedia's HTML authoring program that works with native Fireworks and Flash 4 files. In addition to importing the files directly, you can launch Fireworks or Flash from within Dreamweaver to edit the files. When you quit Fireworks or Flash, the modified graphic gets placed in the Dreamweaver document. In this feature, Macromedia may be anticipating the next version of Adobe GoLive, which will likely boast improved synergy with Adobe's other products, including InDesign, Photoshop, ImageReady, and Illustrator.

Other new Dreamweaver 3 features include local and remote file synchronization, the ability to define styles without using Cascading Style Sheets, and the ability to edit tags within the document window.

Dreamweaver 3 and Fireworks 3 are expected to ship by the time you read this.

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