Customers optimistic after Macromedia/Allaire merger

Customers optimistic after Macromedia/Allaire merger

In a $US360 million cash-and-stock swap, Macromedia last week acquired Allaire, making a legal union of what many developers called a common-law marriage of the firms' Web site design and back-end application development tools.

US-based Macromedia said it hopes the merger will boost its Web design tools, such as its popular Flash animation software, by integrating with Allaire's application development tools. Developers and analysts lauded the merger, which could also better the merged firm's competitive position against rival Microsoft.

"This is a chance for Macromedia to improve its products by extending the server-side [functionality]," said Jaro von Flocken, CEO of New Image, a Web design start-up in Germany. "This is an important issue because most big enterprises use a database engine on the back end of their Web site and Macromedia doesn't support that."

US-based Allaire makes two application development servers: ColdFusion, a cross-platform product that runs both Microsoft's Active Server Pages and JavaServer Pages, and Java-based JRun. After the merger, Macromedia will add Java 2 Enterprise Edition compliance to ColdFusion and link its other design tools to both application servers.

"A lot of people used [free] alternate scripting languages to incorporate the various products that Macromedia sells with a database," said William Thomson, CEO of multimedia development firm Obsidian-Studios. "Hopefully we will now get some support or documentation."

Randy Covill, an analyst at AMR Research, said a lack of back-end support for extracting, transforming and loading Web data has been a problem for Macromedia. "It's very awkward to live without it, and [its lack of support] undermines productivity," he said.

Developers also said the merger and its product integration goals could keep Macromedia competitive against Microsoft, which makes a unified tool set that ties in both front-end and back-end development tools with its Internet Explorer browser.

Integrating products should give "developers more control and power over the back end," said John Foulds, a developer at Web development firm Filament Communications. "With Microsoft [tools], you have more enterprise projects with big budgets, but with [this] merger, they can do the lower end of the market."

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