April 2001

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Adobe also has a companion book, Adobe Classroom in a Book for FrameMaker, complete with a CD-ROM to help you get started. It is from the Classroom in a Book (CIB) series. The FrameMaker CIB is very concise and easy to follow and provides a very good tutorial. If you are a new FrameMaker user, I highly recommend this companion book. The CD-ROM includes examples that you use to get hands on experience in creating and editing FrameMaker documents. Each chapter in the book has a sample document that you modify to learn the concepts presented in the chapter. You can just follow the topic that you want more experience in or go through the tutorial from beginning to end. There are 15 chapters/lessons, each one takes between 10-30 minutes to complete. The book is well written and easy to follow.

Adobe FrameMaker 6.0, Adobe, Inc., Mac and Windows. $799 or $209 upgrade.

Adobe FrameMaker (version 6.0) is multi-platform page layout program that provides exceptional flexibility in creating large documents and technical documentation. FrameMaker allows you to write once and publish everywhere. You can easily create documents for print and the web. FrameMaker supports direct output to HTML either via a simple Save As command or for more complicated layouts, with conversion via the WebWorks application that is included in with the FrameMaker package. FrameMaker makes it easy to maintain a unified look across all the chapters in a book and across all your publications. Documents created on one platform are editable and readable on Macintosh®, UNIX®, and Windows® computer platforms. FrameMaker's support of multiple formats make it an excellent choice for electronic and paper publishing.

Key features of FrameMaker include its support of books and eBooks. Support for tables of contents and indexes is integrated into FrameMaker as is support for cross-references and links. It also includes a built-in equation editor that you can use to evaluate equations. It is an efficient tool to create manuals, catalogs, textbooks for print and/or the web. Its use of master pages and cross references make it a excellent choice for long documents and/or books.

Macromedia Flash 5! Creative Web Animation, by Derek Franklin and Brooks Patton, Peachpit Press, $39.99 with CD-ROM

This enormously popular Web design application is the professional standard for producing today's high-impact Web pages. Use this book to create vector animations, import images created in other drawing programs, and manage the contents of your movie using Flash's Movie Explorer. Filled with over 40 up-to-date full-color video tutorials, the authors will have you working proficiently in this complex application in no time. They take you through the process of creating simple buttons and animations to sophisticated interactive movies in this well-designed and highly functional book.

Peachpit has released several new titles in the Visual QuickStart series. Notice the Advanced FileMaker Pro version.

Photoshop 6 for Windows & Macintosh, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas, Visual Quickstart Guide, Peachpit Press, $21.99

You know an application has exploded when its Visual Quickstart Guide is double the original size. For beginners, its highly-visual, task-based approach makes this book an absolutely necessary companion to Photoshop 6. More experienced users will find it useful as an up-to-date reference to the new features and functions in version 6. Like all the books in this wonderful series, Photoshop 6 shows you how to use the program, and its combination of screen shots, visuals, and tutorials provide an exciting and effective learning experience.

Virtual Mirror Vector Studio, Virtual Mirror, $129, Mac and Windows. (Individual Products:Envelope Mesh (Mac/PC) $39.95;Morph Brushes (Mac/PC) $59.95; Selection Hat (Mac/PC) - $39.95).

If you thought Illustrator 9 was the last word in illustration software, think again. This collection of plug-ins for Illustrator 8 and 9 is the most intelligent and useful suite of additions to a complex and powerful program. The six programs include Envelope Mesh, an extremely powerful and easy-to-use enveloping tool built around Illustrator's familiar gradient mesh feature; Morph Brushes, a truly revolutionary departure from traditional vector drawing point editors that lets you paint detail onto vector outlines without wrestling with direction handles; Selection Hat, a collection of 10 navigation utilities that makes editing complex drawings and drawings with transparent objects a snap. It lets you name selections comprised of objects, anchor points, and mesh control handles, and recall them at a later time; Gradient Factory creates collections of gradients based on a sampled gradient, color shifting controls, rules to apply to existing gradient stops, and rules for automatic creation of stops; Gradient Textures gives Illustrator gradients the subtle shading characteristic of image-based texturing techniques without rasterizing the paths; GlassWorks lets you use object outlines as the defining region for the application of Photoshop-compatible image filters. GlassWorks objects behave like a glass lens in that they apply texturing operations via the filters, to the artwork that lies beneath them.

Some of these plug-ins like the Envelope Mesh and Gradient Textures create an interesting effect with a single click. Others call for for some decision-making to achieve the desired effect. You can release any effect which returns you to the original path and the Auto Update option edits the effect in real time unless you turn it off for complex illustrations. The ability to create new presets for all the plug-ins, the infinite options for all the tools and the multiple color options for all the plug-ins make this suite of tools a designer's dream. Illustrator never worked so hard for you.