Apr 27 2009
By: Jon Gales
January 5th, 2004
Director has long been the de facto tool for multimedia gurus. It has actually been around since the 80′s, but has obviously added a lot more power in the years since. Once Shockwave was installed on most internet connected computers, Director became really powerful because its applications were able to be deployed over the internet, in the browser.
Today Director is being used to power enhanced Enhanced CDs, such as on the popular release by Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idol winner. Enhanced CDs help drive sales, as you don’t get access to the content without buying the actual CD (sorry iTunes Music Store!). Another popular use is prototyping. Because development in Director is rapid, companies can test out new designs for products like slot machines in just days instead of the weeks it takes with more conventional methods.
If you’re going to shell out cash for an update, you better know what’s new. Here it goes.
Ever since the MX family was announced, every release has brought the applications more tightly integrated. I’m happy to report that Director MX 2004 does not change this fact.
- Flash integration – You can now import .fla files directly, and take advantage of all the optimizations the latest version of flash has to offer. According to Macromedia, you should notice a 15-70% performance increase.
- Components – One of the more handy features of Flash is now in Director. There are components for common interface elements:
- Check Box
- Date Chooser
- Numeric Stepper
- Radio Button
- Scroll Pane
- Text Area
- Text Input
- Docking – The stage can now be docked. One of the best features of the MX interface is the ability to dock windows, especially when you consider that docked windows can be minimized by clicking the carrot to the left of the name.
- Display template – You can now control the elements of your projectors in one easy MX like pallet. Complex tasks, such as creating windows and drag masks are now as simple as selecting a cast member in a pop down list.
That’s about it for the integration with the rest of the MX suite, on the next page we’ll take a look at some of the new features that aren’t seen in the rest of the MX family.
We see a lot of focus on integration with other MX products, but that’s not enough to warrent a new version. Below follow some killer features unique to Director (although seeing some of these in Flash would be slick):
- DVD video support – You can now directly embed DVD video into your projects. Why’s this handy? Cross platform training materials are a cinch. But there are a million other uses. Just remember that home DVD players aren’t able to play Director files.
- Real Player tweaked – When Director MX shipped, Real Player for the Mac was still a bit wonky. In the last year, Real has fixed things. Thus, the support for Real media is improved (that is on the Mac side). Windows Media is also supported in this release, but is not of much interest to Mac developers.
- HOT! Cross platform projectors – In prior versions of Director, you had to compile your project in both Mac and Windows versions to get it to work on both platforms. This lead to some Mac users being shafted, when there really is no reason for having a Windows only Director app. In Director MX 2004, you can export for both Mac and Windows with no extra work. This can be seen in a screen shot shown here.
- Sticky publish settings – When you publish your project for public consumption, there are a ton of settings. Director MX 2004 remembers your settings, so that every time you publish you do not have to re-configure. This is a major time saver, and frankly should have happened a long time ago. However, it’s never too late to say hi to a great feature.
- HOT! English named sprites – This is another one of those features that we should have seen a long time. Director MX 2004 now lets you name sprites with real English names. No more integers to gum up the works. If you have a pipe sprite, go ahead and name it “pipe”. Can’t get any easier than that! This feature can be seen in a screen shot shown here.
These aren’t the only new features seen in Director MX 2004, but they are the highlights. It’s a major update, and is a must-have for serious developer.
Nothing has changed on the pricing front:
Full version: $1,199
Education full version: $499
Macromedia says Director MX 2004 will ship in February. At that time, expect more coverage here on MacMerc.com. For now, remember that all screenshots are still subject to change, as the software is still in beta.
If you have any specific questions on this release, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Comments are welcome too.