With this release, Macromedia FreeHand has finally joined the MX family. Not surprisingly, this release offers even tighter integration with other MX products—notably Fireworks and Flash. Macromedia FreeHand MX ($399 direct) also boasts several new, dazzling vector-drawing tools, appealing to Web and print designers alike. It's a given that FreeHand is a wonderful front end for Flash. With this version, you can launch Flash (to edit embedded SWF animations) or Fireworks (to edit raster images). In addition, both Flash and Fireworks can open native FreeHand MX files and correctly interpret layers, pages, and special effects. FreeHand is increasingly used to output files directly to Web formats, such as SWF. Macromedia has made two changes to aid this workflow. A new Action tool lets you create navigable presentations, such as Web-based slide shows and Web site prototypes, by dragging a connector from a button object to a target object. The basic navigation commands have been tweaked to make them easier for nonprogrammers to use. FreeHand MX can also import and reexport Flash SWF movies. This makes it possible to incorporate higher-end Flash features into a FreeHand presentation. On a fundamental level, Macromedia has reinvented FreeHand by creating an entirely new object model. With FreeHand MX, you can format a single object with multiple strokes and fills. You can also apply either raster or vector effects to individual strokes and fills. Moreover, you can arrange the various attributes hierarchically to control how they interact. For our test image, for example, we applied effects such as transform, Gaussian blur, and ragged edge to several different fills to make an ellipse look like a photo-realistic eye. A drawing of such visual complexity would have previously required multiple objects. Macromedia has borrowed several paradigms from the world of 3-D modeling to create a spectacular extrusion tool. In addition to a draggable vanishing point, a FreeHand extrusion can be displayed as a wireframe or shaded object. Advanced controls let you adjust ambient and directional lights or increase the geometric complexity of an object by twisting and bending the extrusion. New tools and features in FreeHand MX make the basic act of drawing more efficient. Connector lines are great for drawing data flows and site maps, because they remain attached to objects even when the objects are moved. Several different kinds of objects—such as gradient fills and graphics primitives—offer built-in adjustment handles. For example, you can easily turn ellipses into pie slices or round the corners of a rectangle by dragging a handle with the Subselection tool. And the new Vector Eraser tool modifies vector outlines. Macromedia is releasing FreeHand both as a standalone product ($399) and as part of the Studio MX Plus suite ($899). In addition to FreeHand MX, the Windows-only release of Studio MX includes Dreamweaver MX, Fireworks MX, Flash MX, ColdFusion MX Developer Edition, Contribute, and a special edition of the previously published DevNet Resource Kit. Whichever package you decide to buy, the new FreeHand is a must upgrade for current users and a very good tool for graphics pros. SJ Namo WebEditor 6 Suite is an affordable entry-level program that can grow along with a user's ski... More » Graphics come in many different file formats. Which is best for your needs? We help you choose. More » Source.