Macromedia has overhauled its Studio 8.0 web-design suite, but many of the changes - at least in the beta we tested - are outside the individual apps. The full version will be available by the time you read this.

Overall, the suite features tighter integration. But if you work primarily in just one of its big-name programs - Dreamweaver 8.0, Flash Professional 8.0, or Fireworks 8.0 - you'll find few reasons to upgrade from Studio MX 2004. Studio 8.0 adds Contribute 3.0 for updating site content and FlashPaper 2.0 for converting files to Flash or PDF. Absent is the FreeHand drawing program, which was part of the two most recent previous Studio releases.

Flash Professional 8.0 has the biggest changes. The vector-graphics program adds a video encoder plug-in that gives you more ways to control how video plays. Flash Player 8.0 also gets an upgrade by way of On2 Technologies' VP6 video codec, which should improve playback. Dreamweaver 8.0, the suite's web-design program, introduces tools that make it easier to use CSS (cascading style sheets). Fireworks 8.0, the suite's web-image editor, also adds CSS support, and - more importantly - tighter Dreamweaver and Flash integration.

There's one major and familiar gripe, though. Macromedia Studio 8.0 is a good example of how many companies see the UK as a goldmine - the same product in the US costs the equivalent of around £150 less.

Macromedia Studio 8.0 Beta: Specs

  • 800MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 1.8GB hard disk space
  • 800MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM
  • 1.8GB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

Despite the useful fresh features in Dreamweaver 8.0 and Fireworks 8.0, both feel more like point releases than major updates. However, the tighter links between the apps themselves could make this suite worth the price. Flash Pro 8.0's additional video features are the biggest change, but the lack of knockout new tools leaves you with few reasons to upgrade.

Find the best price