By Michael Burns | on March 05, 2004
Price When Reviewed: 959 . 319
Be sure to remove any previous editions (such as any betas or trials) of the software from your computer before you start. This caused particular problems on the Mac OS X installation where nothing worked until the old version was removed and the computer restarted, whereas the Windows installer flashed up a warning when it found a previous installation.
One of the biggest improvements is the ability to author executables for dual platform delivery. Previously you had to buy the Mac and Windows versions for cross-platform authoring, and users will definitely welcome the new Projector Publishing Panel that offers a choice of selections for simultaneous output.
The results were a bit disappointing though, as the OS X executable we authored on Windows crashed on the Mac at a certain point during playback, adding insult to injury by asking where Director was situated on the “C Drive”. Windows users are still not able to publish projectors for those Macs still running Classic (pre-Mac OS X), which will raise a lot of complaints in Director heartlands such as the education sector. This omission may be down to pressure from a forward-thinking Apple rather than a lazy Macromedia, but cross-platform authoring is nonetheless a definite step in the right direction.
In the dock
The interface has seen some changes, sporting the look-&-feel of the Macromedia MX 2004 family and with
the ability to name sprites and channels, which is sure to win fans.
Changes are especially evident in the Windows version with the addition of Docking Channels along the left and right-hand side of the application window. These provide another way to customize the workspace. Though both Mac and Windows versions have the ability to stack document windows and tool windows together (though all windows have to be of the same type), with Docking Channels you have the ability to dock the Tool palette, and instantly whip the channelled window off to the side of the screen. It’s odd that this feature was left off the Mac version, especially as this platform is traditionally more UI-oriented.
Support for Flash components is sure to result in streamlined workflows, and the handling of Flash content is much faster.
The thorniest question is that concerned with DVD-Video. Although early reports said the software would offer a form of DVD-authoring, this is restricted in Director MX 2004 to creating hybrid DVD presentations. This shouldn’t be confused with the capabilities of commercial DVD packages such as DVD Studio Pro. DVD-Video is handled just like any other video (QuickTime and RealMedia on the Mac and additionally .AVI and .WMV on Windows) with the new DVD Event Manager allowing Lingo scripted, event-based controls to be added to the movie while it’s playing. The technology is at an early stage, and doesn’t allow the creation of discs for use outside a Mac or PC-based environment, but the potential is there to provide far more complex games and elearning applications than CD ever could.
More information on Director MX 2004 can be found in our extensive preview from January.