Four Score: Director MX 2004 Delivers JavaScript, DVD
Posted Jan 5, 2004

More and more, studios are being asked to take content and produce it for delivery on a variety of platforms, and so DVD authors find themselves working on projects that will also require Web or kiosk interactivity. Macromedia's Director has long been at the forefront of helping studios create multi-format, multi-platform content delivery, and the new Director MX 2004 offers more capabilities than ever, including JavaScript and increased DVD compatibility.

"With the new version, we wanted to give more people access to Director's strengths," says senior product manager Miriam Geller. "With the addition of JavaScript, especially, developers who weren't comfortable with (Macromedia's proprietary) Lingo scripting can use something they're more familiar with." Lingo is still there, of course, but Director now offers full support for ECMAScript-compliant JavaScript syntax, and developers can use both languages within the same project.

Even if they don't use Java, DVD authors who've resisted using Director in the past just might be won over by MX 2004's ability to embed, control and play back DVD-Video format content; no longer must the video be converted to another codec. "We're hoping that DVD developers will find that to be a significant time and space saver," Geller says. DVD playback can be embedded inside Director projectors or in Web pages that use Macromedia's Shockwave player. Using Flash components, authors can choose from three different DVD controller styles as well s creating Web-based playlists for customized, non-linear playback.

Also available is the ability to combine DVD-Video and Web-based presentations. In an early demo shown to the press, Macromedia brought together footage from a Warren Miller ski film with links to current weather and snow conditions on the slopes that were being shown in the video. Other possibilities include synchronizing movie scripts and storyboards with DVD playback, Geller said. Those events can be triggered using Director's DVD Event Manager, a visual tool that eliminates the need for most DVD-related scripting. As far as the interface goes, the most notable addition to Director MX 2004 is the Projector Publishing Panel, with which authors can create and save multiple different settings to apply to various projects, eliminating the need to re-create those settings from scratch on each new project.

In addition to improved integration with Macromedia's own Flash, MX and Fireworks products, Director MX 2004 continues to support QuickTime, AVI, Windows Media, and RealMedia files. For the first time, developers also can also publish the same product for both Macintosh and Windows with a single button click. Finally, content also can be linked to Macromedia server technologies including Coldfusion MX and Macromedia Flash Communication Server for multi-user gaming and distance learning applications.

Available for Macintosh Jaguar or Panther and Windows 2000 or XP platforms, Director MX 2004 will hit the market in February. Prices are $1,199 for the full product and $399 for an upgrade from Director 8.5 or MX. Users who download the product instead of purchasing it on CD have to pay $15 for the manual and an extra copy of the program on disc.