The fate of Web design and management tool Adobe GoLive has been sealed: the program has been booted from Creative Suite, Adobe's bundle of applications designed for print and electronic production professionals. Dreamweaver 8 will replace GoLive CS2 in version 2.3 of Creative Suite, which also has been updated to include Acrobat 8 Professional, announced today and shipping in November. Adobe expects to ship the CS 2.3 bundle in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Adobe acquired Dreamweaver as part of the Adobe-Macromedia merger last year. Dreamweaver has long been viewed as the tool of choice for creating interactive Web sites that incorporate rich media, database content, and scripting with PHP. GoLive was preferred by designers for its integration with Photoshop, direct support for Acrobat internal linking and PDF creation, and ease of use.
In June, I described a leak that had occurred when an Adobe Europe product manager seemed to be saying that both GoLive and illustration program FreeHand would be dropped. After further examination across three languages and a statement from Adobe, it was clear that GoLive and FreeHand wouldn't be part of Adobe's core programs, but would still be developed. (Today's announcements included no news about FreeHand.)
Adobe says that GoLive will continue to be developed as a standalone program, although it's unclear to what audience it would appeal. Credible rumors indicate GoLive may be revamped to be a friendlier Web design tool, with a focus on entry-level users.
The other update to the Creative Suite is the refresh of Acrobat, now at version 8, which is also offered in a variety of versions. New features are a grab bag of miscellaneous items, many of which are only of interest to users in particular industries. Of note, however, is the capability to remove any hidden metadata, layers, and other invisible information that could reveal more than you want, and "redaction" tools that permanently delete text and images from a PDF file. Acrobat 8 Professional will also allow shared PDF commenting and mark-up among a workgroup.
Adobe has slapped the Acrobat name on the latest version of Macromedia Breeze, now known as Acrobat Connect. Connect is a meeting tool, much like WebX or NetMeeting, that enables all kinds of media - PDFs, images, video - to be pushed to all participants. The basic version allows hosted meetings of up to 15 people with limited media use; a Professional version can be installed on a company's own servers with no preset attendee limit. The Professional version contains a full suite of tools for media sharing, voice over IP, and a variety of reporting tools. The hosted version of Connect ships in November, along with the rest of the Acrobat suite; the Professional version is expected in December.
Creative Suite 2.3 has a street price of $1,200 for the premium edition, which includes Acrobat 8 Professional and Dreamweaver. Existing CS2 owners can pay $160 for an upgrade. Owners of any other version or edition of Creative Suite can pay $550 for a full upgrade. Acrobat 8 Professional will cost $450, with upgrades for many previous editions costing $160. Acrobat 8 Standard runs $300, with a variety of upgrades at $100. Acrobat Connect will cost $40 per month per user for the basic hosted version; pricing for the on-site professional flavor wasn't announced. The basic Acrobat Connect will have a free trial running from its release through the end of the year.
Staff Roundtable -- We're trying something a little different with this article. Rather than attempt to have one person integrate into the article the kind of internal discussion that inevitably takes place after an announcement of this ilk, we thought we'd let you listen in on our more trenchant thoughts and comments. Glenn and Jeff have significant background with GoLive, having written three editions of "Real World Adobe GoLive," whereas Adam has spent vast amounts of time in Acrobat Professional fiddling with PDF files for Take Control.
[Glenn Fleishman]: Despite an extremely talented group of people who have been developing GoLive since its CyberStudio days before the Adobe acquisition, the program faltered by release 6.0 several years ago and never recovered its position relative to Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver outpaced GoLive on integrated handling of scripts and database results, while GoLive could only marginally handle these tasks. GoLive 6 included a lot of database integration and scripting preview tools that were all abandoned in GoLive CS, along with any hope of competing directly with Dreamweaver. It's been clear since about 2002 that Adobe management was putting substantially fewer resources behind GoLive than Macromedia was putting behind Dreamweaver. GoLive was never a flagship Adobe product, while Macromedia positioned Dreamweaver alongside Director and Flash as a critical tool.
As for Acrobat, it's becoming ever harder for a mature product to learn new tricks. Much of Adobe's focus in recent years has been the split focus of improving workflow for print production, in which a PDF file is not just an intermediate stage, but is the intermediate and end stage from which the final piece is produced; and workgroup collaboration, where comments and markup are allowed within PDF files so that groups never need to print anything out. Version 8 continues along those lines but seems to offer little that's remarkable, other than perhaps the improved security features.
One might call the "redaction" feature the "oops, we thought it was a Sharpie" feature. Many documents have been converted from, say, Microsoft Word into PDF and then had black marks placed over sensitive areas. But any Acrobat Professional user could remove the black marks to view the underlying text. No more. Deleted items will now be entirely removed from the PDF.
[Jeff Carlson]: I think GoLive is dead, despite Adobe's words. While Adobe continues to claim ongoing development, pulling GoLive out of the Creative Suite is almost certainly a death knell for the program; most people are using it because it's part of Creative Suite (with some others sticking with it from pure inertia). That said, I'm sure some designers will stick with GoLive (assuming it's updated and not turned into something else) because they've developed a familiarity with it, have built templates with it, and otherwise grok its interface - a significant feat. But if I were currently making my living in GoLive, today's announcement would have sealed the long-pondered decision to switch to Dreamweaver.
[Adam C. Engst]: I'm uninterested in GoLive and Dreamweaver, since I decided long ago that learning one of them wasn't really any easier than learning HTML and CSS and working in BBEdit or the text editor of my choice. What interests me more is the announcement of Acrobat 8, since we rely heavily on Acrobat for our Take Control ebooks. From the sound of the press release, Adobe has focused on simplifying Acrobat's interface and enhancing its collaboration tools, which sounds nice, but I'm reserving judgment until I see if they've exorcised the numerous devils in their details.
Using Acrobat Professional to work with PDFs is largely an exercise in constant irritation. For instance, to add a line of linked red text to the bottom of every page, as I do when creating samples of our ebooks, I can create a footer fairly easily, but I must manually change the color of each line to red (because Acrobat doesn't provide color controls for footer text), and I must manually paste and move a copied link into place on each page (since Acrobat doesn't allow footers to contain links, and since pasted links always appear in the middle of the page, rather than in the same relative location as the copied source link). Is it any wonder people create such lousy PDFs when the preeminent tool for working with PDFs makes such simple tasks so difficult? My fingers are crossed for Adobe to get it right with Acrobat 8, but I'm not hopeful, given the number of years they've gotten it wrong so far.
[Glenn Fleishman]: Adam's lack of interest in graphical front ends to Web page building and management highlights one of the key reasons why Dreamweaver has done so well. Most Web sites of any scale now aren't a random collection of individually edited pages. Just like TidBITS and our Web Crossing solution, and, in fact, most blogs, sites are constructed around database-driven templates, which are often extremely difficult to preview outside of specialized tools or a Web page used to edit the template and then view the results. Dreamweaver has reasonable support for previewing scripts, but it is also extensible. What a truly useful Web editing tool would offer now is not just the capability to write and preview in templates - GoLive CS2 has some limited support for Movable Type's format - but the simplicity to write one's own modules to work with programs like Web Crossing that aren't popular enough to warrant direct support. With that kind of support, you could have the power of a visual editor that manages Cascading Style Sheets and helps ensure consistency across all the pages in a site, while still having the power of template-based page creation.
Correction: After publication, Adobe informed us that despite language in their press release, Dreamweaver 8 would be included with Creative Suite 2.3 when that ships later this year, but GoLive CS2 will not be dropped at that time. Future major releases of GoLive will not be included in future major releases of Creative Suite. See this update for more details.