By Michael Burns | on September 30, 2004
Price When Reviewed: 1195 . 595
Pros: Built-in Flash support, and improved 3D functions. It’s simple to use, has a new and faster interface, better library, wire control options and debugger readability.
Cons: Full product is expensive, plug-ins for video and MP3 are free but require additional download and installation, there’s a lack of adequate tutorial and documentation support at present.
Demicron’s latest version of this Web multimedia tool is as simple to use as its predecessors. It has the same logical structure and methodology for creating interactive 3D elements but with a new, cleaner interface. It’s Java-based, but you don’t need any programming knowledge to build applications and objects for streaming into Web pages.
Objects in the Script window are wired (or connected) together by data lines, which carry information and messages. These can now be colour coded. The messages are actually parameters, such as system time, that come in though the object’s in-port and are sent out, naturally enough, through the out-port. You can click on a wire to display the connection information or you can view it in greater detail using the Wire List window. This is a new feature in version 4.0. It lists the connections in the correct order of execution, and allows you to reorder them.
Once you get the hang of things, WireFusion is very straightforward. As well as new support for Flash objects and existing support for GIF animation, images, and sound files installed in the library, you can download plug-ins to incorporate MP3 files, video, and slide shows into your projects, as well as a image zoom facility. All files work in roughly the same way. For example, to use video, you drag the specific object from the multimedia section of the library, browse for the file (only MPEG1 video files with layer I and II sound are supported) and set options and checkboxes for streaming and to enable sound. You can choose to play, loop, or do nothing with the file at start-up, and set a buffer size for streaming. Then, you just press Publish, and a folder is created on your hard disk. Add the resulting HTML code to you Web page, upload the folders containing the video and the WF-player to your server, and it’s done.
Previously a separate download, the WF-3D plug-in has been incorporated into the application and a new navigation mode gives the ability to view and interact with 3D worlds and rooms based on the VRML 97/2.0 standard. Two new 3D renderers – contour and wireframe – have been added, and there is support for texture alpha channels in 3D scene objects as well as real-time drop shadows. New widget functionality and new imaging features are a welcome addition to this release. It’s wise to install software updates as soon as possible – at the time of writing there have been six incremental bug fixes since the launch, but the new features definitely make this worth a look if you’re adding 3D to your Web pages.