Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In (Faint) Praise of Macromedia

I have dealt with Macromedia for some years now. Dreamweaver 3 was my first Macromedia purchase. I didn't like it. Saying to myself "Live and learn" I put it aside and went back to my old Web page software. My favorite Web page creation software was HomeSite. I bought version 4 from Allaire, and upgraded to 4.5 and 5. Of course, Macromedia bought Allaire and integrated HomeSite into their package with Dreamweaver.

At work, we use Macromedia products, and eventually bought the Studio MX package from Macromedia, which included Dreamweaver (with HomeSite), Flash, Fireworks, and Freehand. I really liked the MX version of Dreamweaver and ended up getting the MX Studio for myself. Because of other software I had, I qualified for the upgrade, and, to me, it was well worth it.

When MX 2004 came out, we eventually got it at work. I bought my own upgrade days before we got it at work, and have been very happy with it.

But, I'm not happy now. And it's got nothing to do with my personal copies of my Macromedia software. You see, at work, we also use a Macromedia product called Captivate. It's their replacement for a product called RoboDemo, which was made by a company called eHelp. Macromedia bought eHelp and has renamed and changed the product.

Let me tell you what Captivate it. It's a program that allows the capturing of screen shots, along with mouse movements, keystrokes, audio, and such. Think something like Video Professor, where you see images of a computer screen with mouse moving and typing and audio and such. Captivate (nee RoboDemo) could be used to create such demonstrations.

Macromedia, like I said, changed the product. They added some new functionalites, which are actually good. But, they removed a functionality I need. With RoboDemo, I could specify not only the screen capture size (w,h of 790x545) but also the position (x,y of 5,30). With Captivate, I can still specify the capture size, but can't specify the position. I can use my mouse to move it until it looks like I want. But that's not the same thing.

You see, we have a development team. That means more than one person working on a piece. And, we will put a piece by one person with a piece by another person. And if all are trying to record at (5,30) but are off one or two pixels in one direction or the other direction, when you put them together, the screen jumps. And that doesn't look good.

Macromedia support has, so far, given solution like "use this new feature we put in to make the capture area match the application window." Well, if I wanted to capture the entire window, I would. But look at the top of your browser. See where it says "Internet Explorer" or "Mozilla Firefox" or whatever across the very top. And see where it says "File, Edit, View..." or whatever just below that? Well, I might not want to capture that part, especially if the application we're recording isn't using any of those in a lesson. Why take up valuable screen space with something not needed? We don't.

The geeks at Macromedia who sit up all night eating Doritos and drinking Jolt Cola don't seem to think about these things. And they pulled a similar stunt when they bought HomeSite when they removed some functionality that they eventually put back. I'm wondering what were they thinking. Do they not have the foresite to see that such a functionality of specifying exactly what area you want to record might be useful? Did they fire all the RoboDemo developers? Or just the smart ones?

Macromedia isn't the only company that does stupid stuff. But they did this and I think it's stupid. True, it doesn't affect me personally other than at work. But when I have to experience such frustration at work, I'm not happy at the end of the day. And I don't want to bring such frustration home with me.

Hey, Macromedia! Listen up for a second. When your Dorito-eating, Jolt Cola-drinking geeks sit down and start changing functionality, how about opening the door, letting some sunshine in, and speaking with people here on Earth that actually use the products? Or at least retain the services of some of the people who develop these products you are snatching up? That would make this customer happy.

Hmmm. Customer satisfaction. What a concept.


  1. Why is it when developing software tools that in the name of progress, we always have to take a couple of steps backwards? Maybe instead of singing one step forward and two steps back during their late night, Dorito eating, Jolt guzzling binges they could sing one foot in front of the other. Then everybody would be happy.

  2. Basil, you realize, of course, that a large percentage of your readership doesn't have a clue what you are talking about.

    On the other hand, phins and I both understand you, so at least 50% do.


  3. Heck, I don't know what I'm talking about most of the time, so hey, it's only fair, right?

  4. I use of the later versions. Of course I didn't pay for was given to me by my school this summer when I was employed as a website designer for a professor.

    I was supposed to get rid of it after the summer.


  5. What? No breakfast today? Everybody knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

  6. Not being much of a computer-type dude, this is what I heard (besides Doritos and Jolt Cola):

    "At work, we use Macromedia products....I really liked the MX version of Dreamweaver and ended up *getting the MX Studio for myself*."

    Do you mean you paid for it? Because, if that's the case, you just made me feel really guilty.

  7. I guess I didn't make that clear. Yes, I am the proud owner of the suite. Receipts and everything.

    But, don't worry. If you didn't, I won't tell anyone. Your secret is safe with me.

    Besides, we all know you're joking. Eh? Eh? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more.

  8. I think one person could have made Captivate pretty easily :)

  9. Jon:
    You get no disagreement from me. And, if they had put two people on the project, that doubles the chance one might actually have some sense.


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