Macromedia backs JavaScript in Director tool

Macromedia has announced Macromedia Director MX 2004, an upgraded version of the multimedia authoring tool that adds support for JavaScript, Flash MX 2004 content, and DVD-Video.

The product also develops projector files for Windows and Macintosh in one step. (A projector file in Director is an executable of a Director application.)

Macromedia's Director creates fixed-media presentations for formats such as disks, while the company's Flash technology is focused on web development.

New features in Director MX 2004 enable richer content and easier development due to seamless workflow linkage to other MX 2004 products, according to the company. The addition of JavaScript extends development to Java developers.

"Director for a very long time has had a proprietary scripting language called Lingo," said Miriam Geller, Macromedia director of product management for Director. "With this release, we're adding JavaScript. It's important because now people who are coming to Director don't have to learn a proprietary scripting language. They can use the skills they already have."

An analyst and a user applauded Macromedia's support of JavaScript.

"It takes [Director] out of the realm of proprietary and puts it in the realm of standard," says analyst Rikki Kirzner, research director at IDC.

JavaScript is going to be a help because one of the downsides for Director is the programming has only been via Lingo, and a lot of traditional developers don't know how to program in Lingo, says Doug Brown, president and lead developer at multimedia developer Finite Monkey. "The developer base is going to open up quite a bit," he says.

Director MX 2004 supports most major video, audio, bit-map, 3-D, and vector formats.

Video capabilities within the product enable streaming of video files in DVD-Video, Windows Media, RealMedia, QuickTime, and Flash formats. Additionally, the Xtras plug-in architecture enables extension of the application and playback.

The product is integrated with other products in the MX family. It can launch and edit both Flash and Fireworks, and supports Flash MX 2004 components, including user interface components.

Interactivity within projects can be scripted using JavaScript, Lingo, or a combination of both.

Flash content can be integrated into Director projects. Flash performance within Director projects has also been improved, Macromedia says.

Brown also gave a thumbs-up to tighter integration between Flash and Director. "Flash components we can now use straight inside of Director," he said. Although the products worked together before, integration is now seamless, Brown says.

Director MX 2004 features a customisable workspace. Stage and movie-in-a-window interfaces can be customised for better workspace management.

Due to ship in February, Director MX 2004 costs $US1199 for new users and $US399 for upgrades from Director 8.5 and Director MX.

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