FreeHand has designs on 'Net

Macromedia will make the first big splash of the graphics season, with the unveiling this week of FreeHand Graphics Studio 7, a major upgrade to its 2D and 3D illustration and image editing applications for both Windows and Macintosh.

Macromedia will make the first big splash of the graphics season, with the unveiling this week of FreeHand Graphics Studio 7, a major upgrade to its two-dimensional and three-dimensional illustration and image editing applications for both Windows and Macintosh.

With xRes 3, Extreme 3D 2, Fontographer 4.1 and FreeHand 7, San Francisco-based Macromedia has optimised its suite for the Internet and now supports the newest graphics file formats such as transparent GIF, progressive JPEG, Virtual Reality Modeling Language 2.0 and URL embedding, as well as Shockwave compression technology. Using Shockwave, designers can stream 3D animations and high-resolution images from Web servers out to users, who can pan and zoom using new tools added to the Shockwave player.

Macromedia has added drag-and-drop support for files between applications, and users can import Adobe Systems' Photoshop and Illustrator files or Quark's QuarkXPress files for editing within FreeHand or rasterising in xRes. Although xRes has been used primarily as a complementary tool to Adobe's Photoshop in the past, additions may tempt users to spend more time with the application.

The main improvement to xRes is in the Raster Image Processor, which converts vector graphic data for output to printers or screens and now supports Level 2 postscript. Another feature allows URLs to be embedded directly into graphical objects; links are maintained when objects are edited or moved.

Additions to FreeHand include a feature that lets users search documents by image type or attributes such as colours, stroke widths, or fonts, and automatically update the file with changes to the image.

FreeHand Graphics Studio 7 for Windows 95, Windows NT and the Macintosh will be available in October priced at US$449, and upgrades will cost US$199.

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