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Macromedia Debuts Flash 4 For Distinctive, Full Screen Web Experiences

MP3 Streaming Audio, Powerful Interactivity, and Workflow Enhancements Make Flash the Optimal Solution for High-Impact, Bandwidth-Efficient Sites

San Francisco, Calif.-Macromedia International User Conference '99 - May 24, 1999 - Macromedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: MACR) today unveiled a new version of its popular Flash(TM) authoring software. First introduced in 1996, Flash has become the standard for creating high-impact vector based Web sites that deliver sound, interactivity, graphics and animations and perform flawlessly across multiple browsers and platforms. Many leading companies, including Citibank, PepsiCola, DaimlerChrysler, and Nestle are using Flash to create beautiful Web sites that effectively communicate their brands.

Flash 4 opens new design possibilities with enhancements such as integrated support for high-fidelity MP3 streaming audio and commands for easily creating personalized sites with sophisticated interactivity. In addition, Flash 4 dramatically streamlines the development process with a revamped authoring environment optimized to help developers create high-impact Web sites that combine the production values of television with the immediacy of the Internet.

In a related announcement today, Macromedia announced a Free Source licensing program for the Flash Player code, speeding its incorporation into the next generation of Web-enabled appliances. (See accompanying release, "Macromedia announces Free Flash Player Source Code.") The Flash file format (.swf) is already an open standard so that any vendor can create software applications that output Flash files.

The Flash Player currently ships with all major Web browsers and operating systems (including Netscape Navigator 4.0.6 and higher, Windows 98, Internet Explorer 4 and 5, AOL 4, Mac OS 8 and above, Real Player G2, Web TV, and all Liberate Technologies set top boxes) making Flash the most viewable rich media format on the Internet. Over 77 percent of Web consumers can already view Flash content without having to download any plug-ins, according to a recent third party study.

MP3 Audio, Sophisticated Interactivity Enhance Web Experience MP3 streaming audio support in Flash 4 allows designers to create new Web audio applications, such as long-form animations with voiceovers and
background music, while keeping files small enough for efficient, low-bandwidth delivery.

Newly introduced support for text entry fields in Flash 4 allows developers to create more attractive and better integrated Web forms, applications, and e-commerce front ends. Sites can now easily gather customer data from within Flash-based Web pages, and then pass that information to a Web server. Flash offers extensive control over how user-entered information is displayed, allowing designers to create richly interactive Web sites without sacrificing aesthetic control.

Flash 4 takes interactivity a step further, with an enhanced set of Actions tha  allow Flash developers to create interactive interfaces and distinctive Web applications without needing to do any programming. New
Actions in Flash 4 enable sophisticated behaviors such as draggable interface elements, conditional logic, and basic mathematics, simplifying the creation of Web shopping cart applications, for example.

"With Flash 4, Macromedia has brought Flash to a level where it stands completely on it own," said Josh Ulm, Design Director at Quokka Sports. " Macromedia has found a way to balance what makes Flash conceptually unique with what makes applications intuitive, smart and easier to use. Combine that with fact that the Flash Source is now free, and the development platform suddenly becomes wide open. For Quokka, that means complete control in authoring the experience while providing our sports fans with the most easily accessible and visually intense content on the Web." Quokka Sports is a digital sports entertainment company based in San Francisco, California.

A Fast, Professional Development Environment
The Flash 4 authoring interface has been revamped to make creating distinctive Flash sites faster and easier. Improvements include new Inspector palettes and drawing tools, as well as simplified layer
management so that creating original content in Flash is more intuitive. An optimized Timeline and smart motion guides streamline the process of creating animations; and an improved Library palette with sorting,
grouping, and usage tracking capabilities eases asset management. Finally, a new Publish command outputs the range of Flash-supported formats -including multiple versions of HTML, compressed bitmaps, and even the new QuickTime 4-with a single mouse-click.

"Flash 4 was indispensable to us in creating the interface for shockwave.com," said Fabrice Florin, vice president of online entertainment at Macromedia, referring to Macromedia's new consumer business that was also announced today. "The entire site is created in Flash 4, with custom interface elements that can be dragged, collapsed, re-positioned and incorporate audio cues-all within a scalable interface. The look of the
site is distinctive, yet because it is Flash it is extremely small and fast to download, even over 28.8 modems."

Other Macromedia applications that publish to the Flash file format include Macromedia FreeHand(R), which combines professional illustration tools and  a powerful, multi-page document layout environment for print and Web multipublishing, and Macromedia Generator(TM), the server side solution for automating and personalizing Web site graphics.

Pricing and Availability
Flash 4 for Windows and Macintosh will be available in North America in June of 1999, for an estimated street price of US $299. Current registered Flash users can upgrade to Flash 4 for US $129. Flash 4 can be purchased by calling (800) 457-1774 or bought directly from Macromedia's Web site at www.macromedia.com. Interested parties outside North America should contact their local Macromedia distributor.

About Macromedia
Macromedia's mission is to add life to the Web. By providing its award-winning Web Publishing, Web Entertainment, and Web Learning solutions to Web designers, consumers, and the enterprise, Macromedia is delivering a completely new generation of Internet tools and technologies designed to transform the Web experience. Headquartered in San Francisco, Macromedia (NASDAQ: MACR) has more than 500 employees worldwide and is available on the Internet at http://www.macromedia.com.

 

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