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Technology Roundup: Web Development Tools: A Full Palette in 2003

Flash MX
The dominant professional Web development tool, Flash is a full-featured product with an omnipresent counterpart on the client side: the Flash player, which is installed on millions of personal computers and used by over 400 million Internet users. Flash files incorporate rich media in a small file size. Flash MX features video, multimedia, and application development components for creating rich Web experiences. Users can import any standard video file supported by QuickTime or Windows Media Player, including MPEG, DV (Digital Video), MOV (QuickTime), and AVI. Flash MX can manipulate, scale, rotate, skew, mask, and animate video objects. It can also make objects interactive with the help of scripting. The panel layout, accelerator keys, and publish settings are all customizable. A new intuitive user interface is available in this version. Also included are prepackaged templates and learning interactions that provide users with ready-to-go shells for dynamic Flash presentations, slide shows, menus, and quizzes. Flash MX files can be saved as Flash 5 files, so that groups of users who have the two different versions can still work with the same document. Contact: Macromedia Inc., San Francisco, Calif.; (415) 252-2000;

Adobe GoLive 6.0
GoLive combines design, style, site management, and deployment features that permit Web designers or less experienced users to build professional Web pages. Users organize drag-and-drop text boxes, images, and other objects on a layout grid. The layout grid, actually a table formatted by the software, facilitates page formation. Design tools in GoLive make it possible to develop Web pages without getting tangled up in code. However, for those who wish to work at that level, code editing tools allow them to work visually in the page layout while simultaneously viewing the source code. GoLive also features site management and collaboration tools, a customizable user interface, and a dynamic site wizard. GoLive even lets users design pages for wireless devices.

This visual authoring program integrates well with other Adobe products, such as Acrobat and Photoshop. Users can publish work as PDF or SVG documents. Using PDF, developers can send the work out to reviewers, who can comment on and mark up the work directly in a file and return it to the user for changes. Users can also take a Photoshop image and bring it directly into GoLive. SmartObjects maintain the link between the image and Photoshop. Contact: Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.; (800) 833-6687;

Adobe LiveMotion 2.0
LiveMotion takes the capabilities of GoLive and makes them dance. Tightly integrated with other Adobe products, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, GoLive, and AfterEffects, LiveMotion allows users to build animated interactive Web pages in a variety of formats, including Flash and QuickTime. LiveMotion is a compilation of pre-built effects and tools for creativity. Users can draw from the library and style palettes for ideas or build content from the ground up using the integrated Photoshop text engine, content-creation tools, and ActionScript. ActionScript, a complete JavaScript language for creating interactivity, lets users create interactive content (without having to learn new scripting languages) and export it to the Flash player to create animated content, advanced eCommerce tools, complete Web applications, and XML-based chat rooms. LiveMotion also includes some features designed to automate tedious tasks: Developers can build automation scripts, which control all objects and commands within the LiveMotion authoring environment. Experienced developers can also create Live Tabs, user-friendly front-ends that connect invisibly to the automation scripts, speeding up the production process for the less experienced user. Contact: Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif.; (800) 833-6687;

XMetaL 3
XMetaL has won numerous awards for its accessible approach to XML content creation and editing. XMetaL has an open and scriptable development environment that allows developers to create custom tools with which any user, not just developers, can build XML and SGML documents. The complexity of XML is hidden within a user-friendly interface. XML documents can also be saved as SGML. Users of XMetaL can create or repurpose content for publication on the Web without the need to convert it from other formats. XMetaL’s authoring aids provide further support via three editing view options. Context-sensitive Attribute Inspector and Element List show valid markup options at the current point in the document. XMetaL also features real-time rules checking, keyboard macros, a spell checker, and a thesaurus, as well as an advanced search and replace engine. Recently acquired by Corel Corp., XMetaL was formerly sold by SoftQuad. Contact: Corel Corp., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; (613) 728-8200;

Freeway 3.5 for Mac OS X
Freeway 3.5 for Mac OS X and OS 9 is an HTML generator that helps users build Web content with graphics and typography features—without coding. Extensive drag-and-drop capability enables users to add content from just about any source (Web pages in browsers, iPhoto, iTunes, MS Word or the desktop) straight into the Freeway document. The latest version of Freeway includes support for native Illustrator 10, Photoshop 7, TIFF, PICT, GIF, JPEG, Quicktime, MPEG, and SWF file formats. Other improvements in version 3.5 include the ability to manipulate compressed Flash files (change backgrounds and URLs), better handling of true-type fonts, and smaller Freeway file sizes. Within Freeway, users have access to all of Macintosh’s fonts with full typographic control for creating GIF text. Freeway also scales image files and converts them to JPEGs, GIFs or PING files, sparing the user the need for an external graphics editor. An upgrade to Freeway 3.5 is free to owners of Freeway 3x. Contact: Softpress Inc., Sausalito, Calif.; (415) 331-4820.

NetObjects Fusion 7
Designed to accommodate the needs of the basic home Web page builder as well as an experienced Web developer, NetObjects Fusion 7 is replete with features that make it accessible. Beginning with its QuickStart building tips and tools, NetObjects Fusion 7 provides support for all proficiency levels. Novice users can build a Web site in three quick steps: choose a template, choose a style, then add the content. They can connect pages through an easy-to-use drag-and-drop layout manager that automatically adds navigation to link pages. Users can import content from other HTML sources or from other Web sites; the product also gives users the ability to import Word documents without loss of formatting. Other time saving tools include global asset management, cascading style sheets, and a library of styles from which to choose. Contact: Website Pros Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.; (877) 650-8171; www.netobjects. com.

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