Adobe Flashes Macromedia

SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Macromedia Inc. (800/457-1774, http://www.macromedia.com) has spent the past few years virtually unchallenged as the maker of high-end multimedia Web design tools like Flash. But Flash's days as the only game in town may be coming to an end. Adobe Systems Inc.

(800/833-6687, http://www.adobe.com) will soon roll out a competitor called LiveMotion.

LiveMotion draws on one of Adobe's greatest strengths-years of experience developing interfaces for a wide variety of design tools, such as drawing, video-editing, and Web design programs. Adobe has leveraged that advantage throughout its product line by making programs work together seamlessly and standardizing interfaces.

LiveMotion features an interface almost identical to that of ImageStyler, a Web-graphics tool discontinued by Adobe. As with ImageStyler, LiveMotion lets you drag objects-including EPS graphics and Adobe Photoshop documents-onto a canvas where you can apply the program's preset styles to them or create new styles using palette tools. Design-ers can add bevels, drop shadows, and other effects with one click.

What's more, users can apply any number of effects to one object and then instantly apply those effects to others by linking them. At any point, users can simultaneously edit the style on all linked objects.

LiveMotion's animation features owe a debt to another Adobe product: After Effects. With LiveMotion, you can animate object attributes via an After Effects-inspired timeline window. Flash relies on a more complex Macromedia Director-style animation interface, which can be challenging for designers to learn.

LiveMotion can read native Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop files. Photoshop compatibility is an expected advantage over Flash because Photoshop is the de facto standard in bitmap-editing programs.

Once users import a layered Photoshop file into LiveMotion, they can treat the file as a single-image object or explode its lay-ers into separate objects to be manipulated individually. Users can also bring objects created in LiveMotion into Illustrator or Photoshop for editing; the object is automatically updated in LiveMotion. Since LiveMotion doesn't actually throw away any picture data, users can make last-minute changes.

LiveMotion can export files as JPEGs, animated GIFs, SVG animations, and Flash files. In addition, users can export objects within a LiveMotion document as different file types with different compression schemes controlled on a per-object basis. LiveMotion takes those files and automatically places them inside HTML tables.

LiveMotion is expected to ship in May. It will sell for $399, though Adobe will offer it to registered users of other Adobe products for $299 within the first 90 days of shipping.

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