Macromedia CEO Rob Burgess led a team of company executives in presenting OS X versions of FreeHand, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and the Flash Player, as well as other projects under development, during a conference session Thursday at Macworld Expo. The company announced that the first shipping program to support OS X will be FreeHand, which the company hopes to release shortly after OS X’s March 24 debut.
“We’re very committed to Mac platform, and we’re looking forward to OS X,” said Kevin Lynch, president of Macromedia products.
Scott Thompson, Macromedia’s senior software alchemist for the Macintosh, demonstrated how FreeHand’s use of Quartz in OS X improves the program’s performance. He showed how artwork in FreeHand does not need to redraw after palette boxes are dragged over on-screen images.
Macromedia is also working on a forthcoming version of the Shockwave Player that supports Intel’s 3-D streaming format. Lynch showed how a fully interactive 3D object can be rotated and viewed in the player. “We think this is a great way to deliver 3D content on the Web,” he said. Macromedia and Intel announced the technology at last July’s Siggraph conference in New Orleans (see “Intel, Macromedia team on 3-D streaming format” and “New 3-D format gains support”).
Lynch showed the Flash Player displaying interactive content on a PocketPC. One cool application was a news “broadcast” with MP3 sound, animation and full access to touchscreen menus and information boxes.
Other examples included a “Pong” game, an animated music video and applets that provide map displays and measurement conversions. He said that Macromedia is also working on software (and players) that will allow content creators to simultaneously author content for multiple devices.
Lynch also took some time to demonstrate Macromedia’s current products, showing interoperability between Dreamweaver Fireworks Studio and UltraDev 4. “We’re seeing teams of people building web projects,” Lynch said, “so we’re trying to make our products work better together.”
Kicking off the event, Burgess said there is a “long history” between Macromedia and the Mac market. “The Mac will always be our core market,” he said, “but we have so much yet to do. “
Although he said the Web design market seems to be stabilizing, “there’s still tremendous opportunity to make the Internet what it can be.” One area that he said needs improvement is online advertising. To make his point, he showed several uninspiring banner ads that litter many Web sites, to the audience’s amusement.
“A lot of people think advertising on the Web sucks, and they’re right for the most part,” he said. “All we have are these stinking little banners. There’s no creativity.”
Then he showed some clever Web ads created by Visa, Levi Strauss, and Absolut Vodka using Flash. Essentially humorous mini-commercials, “the ads tell little stories,” he said. “But we’re not taking a holier-than-thou attitude,” he said, “because a lot of the stuff we’ve done in the past sucked too.”
The next level
He implored Mac Web developers “to lead us out of this and take creativity to the next level so there won’t be any doubt about what advertising can be on the Internet.”
Burgess said currently only one percent of Web ads are Flash-based. “But that’s going to change dramatically,” he said, “but we need you to jump on this.”
For its part, Burgess said Macromedia has implemented programs like Macromedia University so users can get training, and Dreamweaver Exchange and the new Flash Exchange, online resources for information and free extensions.
However, Burgess said the biggest problem he has heard from Web developers is the “lack of ubiquity of the Flash player.” However, he noted that about 230 million people downloaded the Flash 5 player during Q4 2000. “We’re trying to get it out there,” he said.
Another difficulty is tracking the response to Flash-based Internet ads. So Macromedia has forged a consortium of 30 companies, including ad agencies, ad-serving networks, advertisers, publishers and technology vendors, to help set standards for Internet advertising. He said the first initiative is a Flash Tracking Kit, a system deployed by DoubleClick to track click-throughs on Flash ads.
The session ended with a showing of Flash animations based on a handful of classic Pink Floyd songs. You can view the videos on