• Price: £649 plus VAT

  • Company: Matchware

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Some multimedia-design packages concentrate on graphical tools and special effects, while others focus on function. Mediator falls into the latter category, with this EXP expert edition building on the strong and highly usable feature set of Mediator 6 Pro. It’s essentially the same program, plus a pack of powerful, built-in scripting tools – both manual and visual. The main visual tool, already part of Mediator 6 Pro, is the Events dialog window. This presents a set of common action icons, organized into tabbed categories, which you drag-&-drop onto elements. In this fashion, it’s possible to bash out simple triggers and interactivity with a few quick clicks, or you can spend a little more time building more complex sequences with conditions and additional attributes – all visually and with no handcoding. As well as supporting JavaScript and VBScript for writing custom actions, complete with a simple colour-highlighted script editor, you can use these for generating your own macros to simplify development. This combines nicely with the Set Property action. You can set up applications to communicate with Web-server scripts through a new HTTP Request action. ASP coding aside, the implementation is fairly straightforward, with potential for presentations and runtime titles that hook into a Web site. Another interesting online-multimedia addition is the ability to use ActiveX components, which opens up a vast resource of development potential in the form of commercial objects, plus a massive repository of free nuggets available all over the Internet. For all this, Mediator 6 EXP continues to offer good support for external media files, including standard-format animations and even Flash movies, which can be made to run tidily inside application windows. New to this version is an Animation Track action that allows you to customize object motion attributes through a special window. This method makes spinning, travelling, colour-changing, and even transparency-fading effects quick to apply without getting lost in path curves on the page itself. Regular tool All this brings the package head-to-head with Macromedia’s market-leading Director, although not a feature-for-feature substitute for it. Rather, Mediator 6 EXP is the better product for producing everyday multimedia applications with tight deadlines. The program interface is surprisingly bare; with the minimum of toolbars, and just a few no-frills floating or docked dialogs to keep an eye on. Faced with the complexity of multimedia development, a clean interface is a friendly one, especially when it doesn’t make assumptions about the programmer’s own artistic ability. The package performs best as a workhorse tool for assembling, activating, and distributing multimedia. However, it affords the versatility of custom scripting for more involved projects, and provides extensive VBScript documentation in the box. Unless you’re already a whizz with LogoScript, most creators of everyday projects – such as in-house training materials, interactive catalogues and even application tryout prototypes – should find Mediator 6 EXP’s speedy tools leave Director feeling like a lame duck.