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As a long time user of Macromedia products (since Flash 3 and Dreamweaver 1.0) and a shareholder for the last 18 months I have some concerns with Macromedia of late.

1.) Flash - I think there has been a growing awareness amongst developers in the last 6 months that Flash is often a very bad investment. It can be great for product demonstrations or certain sites that have a strong entertainment orientation (like but most companies would do well to steer clear of Flash. Here are a few reasons:

Flash is more expensive to develop with. It may not alway's be this way but today it is much more expensive to develop a good flash site than a site using other technologies (HTML or other page oriented techs like PHP, ASP, JSP). It will also cost more to maintain.

It is rare to have a well done Flash site. Gratuitous animation and the ability for the designer to "push the envelope" often leads to sites that are very difficult to use. Flash sites are often built for the designer or company management not the end user.

Flash limits your development options. It is odd that Macromedia develops both Dreamweaver and Flash. I've loved Dreamweaver because of it's understanding of the importance of development flexibility but Flash offers very little of the same. A big part of the problem is that almost everything on the web revolves around the document as destination model. One URL represents one location. Flash is more like a movie; text is not indexable, specific locations in the movie are not bookmarkable, the back button on the browser (the most popular browser feature) is disabled.

People aren't that interested. Most 3 minute flash movies have content that could be sumarized in a couple of sentences. A biotech client of ours recently felt the need ad a "really cool" flash capabilities piece to their homepage. The new movie accounts for 0.02% of all page views on the site but increased the load on their servers by 17%. That is huge cost to have a few hundred people watching flying dna strands.

In a time where companies are increasingly concerned with ROI with their online expenses Flash is an increasingly bad choice.

2.) Allaire - I'm not sure of the value of adding an HTML editor and an aging middleware solution to Macromedia's product mix. Cold Fusion operates in an extremely competitive marketplace. From my perspective most developers would rather work with PHP, ASP, or JSP. These are growing, robust solutions with an extremely dynamic user base. I would rather have Macromedia focus on adding PHP support to UltraDev than investing in Cold Fusion.

3.) Applications - We've used other Macromedia products like Freehand and abandoned them. You can't underestimate the power of compatibility with the full Adobe product suite. I prefer Dreamweaver to GoLive but the ability of Adobe to bundle GoLive with almost universally admired and used applications like Illustrator and Photoshop is a tremendous advantage. It worries me. And I just bought my first Adobe stock last week.

4.) Focus - Flash, Dreamweaver/UltraDev, and the Allaire purchase seemingly represent three directions. Dreamweaver/UltraDev focuses on bringing power to the developer. Power to choose their own solutions and technologies and still work in the Dreamweaver environment. Flash is a proprietary technology that competes with other vector based technologies and with other web technology standards like Cascading Style Sheets. And Cold Fusion represents MACR backing their own proprietary middleware technology.

I want to be a believer and I did just pick up a few more shares when it hit 14 the other day but I'm having my doubts. Thoughts anyone?
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