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Adobe Fireworks CS3 Review

Simply put Adobe Fireworks is an intuitive and easy to use program to create graphics for small additions on websites to constructing entire website’s look and feel.  It has become a web graphics staple to all professionals in the field and is quite frankly easy to use for people who may not be ask professional.  That is, it as easy to learn as it is to use. 

There are quite a number of tools to create bitmap and vector graphics which you can combine for entire website designs, and lets you edit virtually everything you could want with the help of photo-editing tools and animation tools.  Fireworks can also export JavaScript that can control swapping images for rollovers and pop-up menus, as well as creating animated GIFs and can use XML files to import text into images. 

Being that Fireworks has been around for about a decade now, the latest updates seem to be pretty great and just what users wanted/needed.  One may now integrate into Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Adobe Flex and Bridge.  There is improved bitmap scaling and layer management.  People are saying that it is still the best web graphics tool around, and has now made it easier for prototyping with its compatibility with other programs.

Fireworks Screenshot

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Review

This new Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 has a lot of nice features that help web developers create websites easily and efficently. It offers a lot of templates. I can simply use one of them and create a website without typing codes. One of the great things I have noticed is when the Dreamweaver insert CSS tags, not only does it create codes for those specific tags, but it also provides detailed descriptions. I really like this feature because it is very helpful in understanding the function of the tags. The "tag hints" are very nice too, especially when I create CSS tags. It is sometimes hard to remember certain properties for CSS, but Dreamweaver lists all the properties for me so that I don’t need to grab a book to find the ones I need.

Another feature where I can collapse certain area of codes is helpful and much appreciated. By selecting the area and clicking the "Collapse Full Tag" icon in the tool bar, I can hide unnecessary lines of codes and work on the part I need, allowing me to edit codes quickly and conveniently. Moreover, even though I close the Dreamweaver application, it will remember where I left off, thus know the codes I previously collapsed. This is very nice.

The "snippets" feature is useful and time saving for developers because Dreamweaver provides the option to apply predefined ones or gives the option to create my own "snippets."

Finally, I love the "Spry" tools. It is so easy to add nice visual effects to your website and this feature definitely helps attract people. Wow! You can simply click on an icon from the Spry menu and add menu bars, tabbed panels, or accordions in a second. I don’t have to work hard to create the effects, since Dreamweaver does all the work for me. No one will know I just click a few times here and there to create his or her website; unless, of course, he or she knows about this great Dreamweaver application. It just gets better and better! I'm spoiled! This is one of the best tools and a must-have for web developers.

One note: I do wish Dreamweaver could allow me to save or import the "snippets" I created as a file so that I can have them as a backup in case I need to reinstall OS or share with other developers. It does not have an option that simply allows me to do that without digging through a folder the Dreamweaver saves them. Hopefully, Adobe will add this functionality to the next version of Dreamweaver.

Spry Tool

FusionDebug review

Fusion Debug review

By George Murphy

This is my third year in a row attending CFUnited.  My name is George Murphy and I am a ColdFusion developer and contractor doing work for the Department of Energy through Technology & Management Services.  One of the things that I have come to enjoy most about attending CFUnited each year is being able to discover new software and little snippets of code which I can use throughout the year.  My first year was working with ColdFusion developer Selene Bainum to come up with functions to dynamically process form submissions.  This year it was discovering the usefulness and value of FusionDebug 2.0.1.  This plugin runs inside of CFEclipse and allows the user to set breakpoints and then have FusionDebug step through the code line by line.  The coolest aspect of the entire application is being able to see every variable that is being created from when you start running your application until the breakpoint and even after if you step through the code.

  • Installer – Complete IDE Environment

Another interesting feature of FusionDebug is that it comes bundled with Eclipse 3.2 and CFEclipse 1.3.  This is a handy feature if a developer is not running Eclipse on their machine.  You don't have to fool with downloading and installing Eclipse separately.  However, if you would like to install FusionDebug in your copy of Eclipse that option is available.


  • Server Configuration Wizard

There is also a Server Configuration wizard which is capable of updating the ColdFusion/JRun server configuration file in order to allow ColdFusion to accept connections from FusionDebug.

 

  • Source Code Lookups

Point to the exact project paths in Eclipse of the code that users need to debug on the ColdFusion server. This is part of the setup process for debugging. If you are having any issues this is the first place where you should look to make sure that your path information for your particular project is correct.

 

  • Debug Perspective

This is a window which contains all of the views needed to begin debugging your ColdFusion Applications.  The variables tab allows you to see all of the variables that are running in your application. The breakpoint tab lets you see all of the active breakpoints that are set in the application.  Finally the expressions tab allows you to monitor and settings that have been applied to any expressions.  It is nice to have all of this information in one area.


  • Inspect Expressions

FusionDebug allows you to create multiple expression watchers.  What this does is allow FusionDebug to evaluate those expressions.  To simplify it creates a window into your expressions to allow you to see the values going into and coming out of the expressions that you need to know.

 

Those are just a few of the many features available in this application. To learn more about these features see:

http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fusiondebug/features.html

I have never used a debugger before; but after sitting through Charlie Arehart's presentation about FusionDebug and the new debugger that comes bundled inside of ColdFusion 8, I immediately saw the potential value of the two applications.

After the presentation I decided to skip the next presentation and visit the Fusion team to get FusionDebug installed and running on my laptop.  The install process was very uneventful which made me quite happy. 

I commissioned FusionDebug to solve a nagging problem that I have not been able to solve for the past month.  I am in the process of building a LAN E-mail request application for the EERE (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy) division of DOE.  When users passwords are reset or new users are created I have a component which generates the password and stores it in the session scope.  I then read that session scope back to the Administrator who copies it and gives it to the user.  When the Administrator leaves the page I clear the session scope of the last variable that I created.  I was using the variable CGI.path_info to check for the existence of the page I was reading to.  And if the CGI.path_info was not equal to the page I was reading I cleared that session variable.  This worked flawlessly while I was on ColdFusion 6.1.  However when I ported the application to ColdFusion 7 or ColdFusion 8 the session variable was never available when I went to read it. 

Before I worked with FusionDebug I attempted the classic methods to try and figure out why it was not working.  I verified that the session was getting created and that CGI.path_info was available and equal to the page I wanted to read to.  Right after setting the session variable I did a cflocation back to page I was reading to.  I verified that CGI.path_info was available right before the redirect and right after.  So, it was a mystery as to why the session variable was not available right after the cflocation. Well FusionDebug helped me solve the problem because I was able to see the value of CGI.path_info during the cflocation and the value was an empty string.  That is why the session scope was getting cleared.  For the life of me I could not understand why I did not get this same behavior in ColdFusion 6.1.  So, with the discovery of this little bit of information I again turned to FusionDebug to try and help me solve the problem.

There are many different CGI variables which read the same thing.  FusionDebug showed me which ones where available during the cflocation and did not change.  I decided to use CGI.script_name and it is working flawlessly in ColdFusion 6.1, ColdFusion 7, and ColdFusion 8.  My point is that I was able to see and correct this problem in 15 minutes.  Without FusionDebug I would have chosen another method to correct the problem but not known for sure why I was having this issue.  So, I would like to take my hats off to the folks who developed FusionDebug.  It is great to have another great application in my tool chest to help me build better and more secure ColdFusion applications.  Since CFUnited FusionDebug has become an indispensable development tool for me and TMS is looking at additional purchases for other team members.  If you value saving time and working more efficiently then this is the tool for you.

To purchase or learn more about this application see:

http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fusiondebug/index.html

Adobe Captivate 2 Displays Incredible User-Friendliness

When my boss first came to me and asked me to record several demos using Adobe Captivate 2, I was skeptical. Not only would I need to record the demos, but I envisioned myself spending hours just trying to figure out how to efficiently use all of the program’s tools. I immediately installed the program and began playing around with the different features. After a very short amount of time, I had already picked up most of the basic features of the program, and was able to put together short practice demos.

It takes very little effort and frustration to create a useful demo using this program. It has an incredible array of tools, allowing you to add audio, import and edit various media files, and easily edit separate frames after you are done. It captures every motion you make while recording, and you can even outline the area on the screen that you would like to be recorded if you do not wish the document the whole screen.

One of the best aspects of Captivate is what you can do with your storyboard after you are done recording. You can enhance each individual screen by adding text, audio, video, animation, and more. The program can be set so that with every mouse click, a new frame is automatically generated. This is very convenient, as the program automatically separates the frames into separate steps and allows for me to focus on the content of the demo without and having to stop each time I want to re-do a frame. For someone who has never used any program like this before, I felt as if I had been using the Captivate for a long time, after only a few hours of use. 

 - Daniel Rooner

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Review

Nafisa Sabu
Graphic Designer
05.03.07

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Review

 

New Interface

Adobe’s fully featured motion graphics and animation studio has a fresh and clean new look. After Effects 7.0 is better then ever with a sleek new interface where there is a more color to separate sections from blending into each other. Everything has rounded corners and can be composed to fill up the whole screen with as many features as you would need and still have enough room to work, making the interface very flexible and easy to work with.

The software itself is not easy to master for beginners such as myself, but with the help of the getting started manual, tutorials, and templates the possibilities are really endless. Creating motion graphics and special effects with this editor can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.

Adobe Integration

I have to say how I love it when I have multiple editors that know how to work with each other. Adobe certainly listened to its users this time because there are many ways After Effects cooperates with other software in the Adobe family. Here are some of the ones I noticed:

  • Premiere Pro 2.0; capturing video in AE that has been rendered in Premiere, drag and drop to and from after effects.
  • Flash; FLV output format option
  • Photoshop; import images from photoshop
  • Illustrator; import vectors and files that are preserved
  • Bridge; provides a way to browse animation that has come with the package or browse thru your own animation and graphics, also shows the animation preview

My favorite features

There seems to be a lot of different features in 7.0, there are many great tools that really spark creativity and enrich the experience of working with an editor like After Effects. These enhancements help support a better workflow and produce quality graphics. Some of my favorite features that I’ve come across so far include:

  • Animated presets; there are hundreds of presets that help create visual effect while saving you time.
  • Graphics Editor
  • OpenGL; produces faster results and quicker rendering, also produces real time previews.
  • HD color; High Dynamic color support with 32 bit gives crisp detail to videos and animation.
  • Auto-save; lets you be worry-free. You can set how often you would like your projects to be saved automatically.
  • Text tool; easy to use text tool lets you create and animate, text can also be applied from photoshop and created to animation presets.

Can it get any better?

After Effects is a great tool for the professional and beginner who is learning motion graphic & animation. My only improvement would be to include a better color correction tool for a future installment. Other than that, Adobe is certainly in the right direction with 7.0.

Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 Review

The evolution of Premiere

Adobe has done it again! This time, they're taking professional digital video editing to a whole new level. With a bunch of new and improved features Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 is probably one of the best editing tools out there for the professional editor. It includes a whole new look and steps further into usability. Being the designer that I am, the first thing I noticed when I received my Premiere software was the new package and design. The horse, which has been associated with Premiere in the past versions has disappeared and now is replaced with a clean glassy video reel. This new image of premiere fits in with the look and feel of the rest of the Adobe products. The box itself totally gets me thinking that what's displayed outside, will reflect the inside; clean, new, improved, and up to date with what everyone is working with today. And boy was I right.

First impressions

When you first open up Premiere Pro it's easy to see that it is not the ideal application for users who are new to video editing. If you are, it may be a little intimidating. Premiere is geared towards the advanced users, all types of professional editors and filmmakers. At the same time Premiere Pro can be a great application for the user who has had a bit of experience in editing and wants to take their skills further. 2.0 comes with a User Guide, which includes almost anything you probably want to know when starting off.

I have used Premiere in the past so I was happy to see all the new and exciting improvements on 2.0. Here are a few that really stood out for me personally:

· Interface: The interface is much more flexible and organized, and has been designed to be easier on the eyes. · Lots more color correction tools: I'm a big color person, so I really like having a bunch of options on how to play with color.

· HDV functionality: this is a great feature, especially with the new advances in HD media. Users will be able to create superior quality videos and audio.

· Integration: Premiere now is integrated with After Effects and Adobe Bridge ( a new key element of adobe which lets the user better organize their media). It's always great when multiple applications of the same family can work together.

· DVD menus: "Exporting to DVD" feature allows the user to create menus within the DVD.

As much as I loved all the cool new features, there is always room for improvement. Here are a few things I noticed where Premiere 2.0 lacked:

· Importing swf files: I love Flash and as I learned about Premiere's product integration I was disappointed to find that Flash wasn't really included, I cannot import swf files to 2.0.

· Exporting files: It just takes a really long time. Too long in my opinion.

· Previewing: With all the new options and corrections and transitions I wish there were a way to preview something before you actually apply it to your footage. Something similar to what Photoshop has when you are adding a filter. It would just save a bit of time.

· The workspace: I know previously I mentioned that the interface was great, but it still could use some improvements. If the workspace was opened up it might be a little easier to work with. The amount of buttons and options can become hectic.

On that note...

Overall I am very excited about all the improvements that 2.0 has made. Premiere is certainly moving in the right direction. It is the premiere application for any professional editor. I can't wait to see what we have to look forward to with Premiere in the future.

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