Macromedia Studio MX 2004

Yes that’s right, Macromedia announced a new version of MX this week (should have posted this monday morning but I was away), just when most of you were probably getting round to buying the first MX.

This release marks the second release with a major commitment to Accessibility, showing their ongoing commitment to the cause.

On a side issue the software that was used to demonstrate some of MX 2004 to me was pretty cool, some form of Flash application server which provided a view of Bob Regan’s desktop over the web. If you want more info let me know and I can find out but I don’t have any currently.

Back to the topic in hand, Bob Regan’s view on Accessibility is that there will be a lot more interest in and notice taken of Accessibility next year. This year being the European Year of People with Disabilities, he believes next year will be the year of implementation (or words to that effect).

CSS has been taken more seriously than ever forming a "core part of the design".

Slighly off topic again but wouldn’t it be nice for XHTML 2 to have an attribute to the quote element <q> for defining the origin of a verbal quote, something like:

skip technical rambling

<q speaker="Bob Regan, Accessibility Product Manager, Macromedia">&quot;core part of the design&quot;</q>

The current spec allows a cite attribute for indicating the URL of a source document but no way of defining the name of someone for a spoken quote unless you add the name after the quote and mark it up with <cite>. I’ve done it with the title attribute above but that doesn’t seem semantically correct, speach browser could say ‘Bob Regan, Accessibility Product Manager, Macromedia said core part of the design’.

Back to MX 2004. I don’t know how well this was provided in the first MX but MX 2004 provides a number of Accessibility Alerts to warn you when you may be commiting an Accessibility blunder such as missing out alt text <img alt=... /> and long descriptions <img longdesc=... /> or not adding labels <label> to form elements.

Macromedia Contribute has improved integration in MX 2004. Contribute is a New Accessible Macromedia Relase, a content creation tool that integrates with Dreamweaver nicely.

Another quick side issue, Macromedia appear to have dumped drop down menus for text links on a bar under the top level nav, I seem to remember drop downs at some point. Anyhow it’s an interesting alternative and nicer to use I think.

Flash has an increased number of Accessible Interactive Components (form elements and such). MX had 2 of these, on release MX 2004 has 10 with a lot more not quite ready at launch which will be made available to download free soon. These controls work with the MSAA architecture. That’s Microsoft Active Accessibility, not Mower Specialists Association of Australia. According to Bob it’s a "tough API".

While reading this remember that most Macromedia Accessibility options are not on by default, although I’m promised they’re not hard to find.

Still on the subject of Flash, it now has an extensibility layer which allows for more contol and customisation of the software, including improving Accessibility such as adding Accessibility Validation tools which I’m told is available.

Action Scripting has been imporved, instead of being forced to use the Accessibility panel to help produce Accessible scripts these features are now available through the text interface, that’s the way I understand it, although I have not seen or used it.

The current Flash Player(6) has a problem with holding onto the screen focus and causing Accessibility upset, well the new version of the player takes a new approach and resolves this problem.

That’s it for now, if you have anything to say about this head over to the forum. If any of this information has errors feel free to mail me, my notes aren’t as good as they could have been and it’s been a busy couple of weeks since I took them.

Filed under: Accessibility
Posted by Accessify on Tuesday, August 26, 2003

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