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What's New with Director MX 2004

Building on a solid history

For more than a decade, Director has set the standard for multimedia development. In fact, Director was the first multimedia authoring tool to combine animation with a scripting language so that developers could create interactive presentations, games, or computer-based training courses. It was also the first product that allowed authors to create multimedia content that could be deployed to both Mac and Windows (prior to this cross-platform innovation, developers literally had to double their work to reach both users).

With numerous innovations, Director has made an incredible impact in the multimedia industry. By the mid-1990s more than 70% of all multimedia CD-ROM titles were produced with Director. In 1996, Director fundamentally changed the way users experienced the Internet with the introduction of Shockwave Player, which brought multimedia to the Web.

Director MX 2004 continues to build on its history of innovation. As a member of the Macromedia MX 2004 family of products, Director now offers more power, a tighter level of integration with MX 2004 products, and a more streamlined and efficient workflow.

Power is about being able to incorporate whatever media helps you get your message across: audio, video, graphics of all sorts. Director supports more than 40 different media types, and in this release we've added the ability to use Windows Media and DVD-Video in Director projects.

Even if the media is not natively supported, you can still use it through Director Xtras (extensions). Hundreds of Xtras are available to take your projects in whatever direction you choose. For instance, if you want to add joysticks to a kiosk-based project or change the users' screen resolution, Xtras give you the power to do it.

With Director, power also means the ability to embed, control, and play back DVD movies within your projects. You now have the ability to create cross-platform, enhanced DVD content. That means Director is a great companion application for people creating DVDs with tools like DVD Studio Pro and Adobe Encore. You can take the DVD projects that you've created with those applications and bring them into Director, where you can add additional interactivity and media types for an enhanced DVD-ROM viewing experience.

We know that many customers use Director and Flash together. Why? Because using them together is more powerful than using them alone. If you're a Flash user, Director will allow you to extend Flash content beyond the browser. You can reuse your Flash content inside Director and rapidly develop applications that leverage Director's broad media support, advanced memory management, interactive 3D, and authoring and runtime extensibility.

In Director MX 2004, developers can now import Macromedia Flash MX 2004 files and take advantage of the performance enhancements found in that release. Those enhancements - combined with performance work we've done in Director related to how we handle Flash files - mean that your Flash assets will perform better than ever.

We've also added Director-certified Flash components to the application, so that Director developers can get basic tasks done quickly.

In addition, we've updated the user interface to take advantage of MX 2004 workflow improvements, such as an integrated reference panel and start page. Plus, we've added Director-specific enhancements, such as a dockable Stage and dockable Movies in a Window. You can even customize your panel sets and create windows that are irregularly shaped, letting you create executables that are shaped like stars, donuts, triangles, or whatever shape you can imagine.

For the first time in the history of Director we've added an industry-standard scripting language to the product, in addition to Lingo. This language will bring Director to audiences who are already skilled with scripting languages and want to broaden their skills into Director.

We've added JavaScript syntax. Developers can use one or both, or a combination of the two. Web developers can easily leverage their existing knowledge to achieve immediate results in Director. Lingo programmers can also collaborate with experienced JavaScript coders and seamlessly use both scripting languages in the same project to reduce development time. We're very excited about the possibilities this new scripting language affords our users. And for those who use Lingo, we've made some updates to Lingo dot-syntax that will help them code more efficiently.

Another exciting new feature is our publishing panel. The publishing panel lets developers create cross-platform projectors or Shockwave content for Mac and Windows with a single click. And it lets users save settings, so that they can publish projects much more quickly.

Finally, we've included something very techie-sounding but extremely well received from our beta testers: sprite and channel naming. This feature means it's much easier to make last-minute changes to your projects.

Whether you're a professional multimedia developer; a Flash user wanting to add different media types or deploy content to CD; an e-learning professional, game developer, or DVD professional, you should check out the latest release of Director. You won't be disappointed.

More Stories By Miriam Geller

Miriam Geller is the senior product manager for Director and Shockwave Player. She has been with Macromedia since 1999 driving development of these products. Miriam has been in the industry for a dozen years focusing on both hardware and software technology development.

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