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Macromedia Offers Collaboration Tool

Macromedia has unveiled an addition to its Breeze content-creation software that lets corporate trainers and business experts share their knowledge through common business tools.
Macromedia Inc. has unveiled an addition to its Breeze content-creation software that lets corporate trainers and business experts share their knowledge through common business tools.

The company acquired Breeze in January as part of its purchase of Presedia Inc., a supplier of online presentation and collaboration software. Macromedia enhanced the core authoring product by adding a Breeze Live module, which can be used to create an online meeting room on the Web for viewers of Breeze content. Attendees logging on to a session can simultaneously see videocam image streams, audio files, and instant messages added to Breeze presentations.

The Live module "helps companies unlock and leverage their critical corporate information," says Keith Kitani, a founder of Presedia and now VP of product management at Macromedia.

The core Breeze product, for example, can import a standard Microsoft PowerPoint slide into an online presentation, then add an animation that illustrates a point in the slide. It can annotate the slide with comments in the form of an audio file, or present the slide and simultaneously broadcast a streaming image of a speaker discussing it. After a multimedia presentation is composed, Breeze Live provides the tools to build an online meeting room, where as many participants as desired may log on to a training session on the Web and view and interact with the course.

With Breeze Live, Macromedia is attempting to leverage the widespread use of its Flash Player in browser windows. Flash provides a run-time environment for multimedia presentations, giving elements a timed sequence in which they are to appear.

Bechtel Corp.'s learning and development group is using Breeze for employee training and has cut the time needed to develop courses in half, says Jerry Linnins, manager of global learning operations. The ability to make use of PowerPoint slides has reduced the need for other forms of content creation, "since PowerPoint presentations are the heart of our classroom courses," he says. Breeze course participants can be given a quiz or allowed to interact with an instructor via instant messaging.

Breeze is available as a software package or as a hosted application from Macromedia. Pricing for the package ranges from $20,000 to $200,000, depending on configuration. The Breeze Live module won't be available with the package until late August.