Two of Macromedia’s (800/457-1774,
) most venerable programs will get upgrades this year. FreeHand 9 and Director 8 boast new tools that further integrate the company’s product line and aim to streamline the design process.
Macromedia may believe the future of design lies online, but the company is still serving print designers, with FreeHand 9. Previously, Macromedia positioned FreeHand as a print and Internet graphics tool. It now trumpets the product as “the professional illustration and layout solution for print and Web” and emphasizes the tight integration between FreeHand and Web design products such as Flash.
Recognizing that many customers already use FreeHand to lay out print products, Macromedia added new print-oriented features. FreeHand 9 supports a simpler multipage-management scheme, ColorSync support, linked file management, and customized page sizes.
Dash for Flash
At the same time, Macromedia is pushing FreeHand as a sophisticated design tool, ideal for creating graphics and storyboards for Flash presentations. FreeHand 9 supports the export of native SWF files, and you can use the program’s layers as Flash animations. It also supports a Flash-compatible symbol library, making it easier for designers to share graphics between programs.
Among FreeHand 9’s new features are a perspective-grid illustration to help designers place artwork in a three-dimensional perspective framework, live enveloping that lets users warp and distort graphics precisely, custom scaling, magic-wand tracing, and editable vector transparency. Users can also open FreeHand files in Adobe Photoshop with layers intact and produce and edit Portable Document Format (PDF) documents within FreeHand.
Macromedia has given Director 8 Shockwave Studio a makeover, hoping to encourage marketers and Web-site developers to think of the program as a means of creating engaging, dynamic content quickly and easily. The new release streamlines the Shockwave authoring process with timesaving features and offers new optimization and compression schemes.
A new Property Inspector window centralizes editing operations and allows batch editing. Director 8 has guides to make layouts more precise. It also lets users lock objects so no one can edit them inadvertently. Other features let developers sort cast members by name, size, date, type, and comments.
Director 8 adds 70 new Lingo commands, which add new effects and behaviors, such as imaging and sound effects, to presentations. The program now features built-in JPEG compression, loader movies that play while content loads in the browser, and scalable presentations.
FreeHand 9 retails for $399, while an upgrade sells for $149. Director 8 Shockwave Studio sells for $999, and an upgrade costs $499.