AUGUST 1, 2001
And yet, just because behaviors can be accessed from a preset library doesn't mean that you're compromising power and flexibility. Let's not forget the 566-page scripting dictionary for expanding Director's capabilities.
3D on the
Web ... that people can view
Of course, at the top of everybody's list of drool-inducing features is the ability to animate 3D for the Web, add interactivity to it and deliver it to an incredibly large base of users who have the capability to view it200 million, according to Macromedia. (This may or may not be accurate; but suffice to say that a whole lot of people have the Shockwave viewer plugin in their browsers.) See, a lot of companies have developed technologies to enable interactive 3D content on the Web. There are Cult 3D and Viewpoint Experience Technology, to name a couple. And I'm not trying to pick on the companies that put out these technologies, but, when it comes down to it, how many people have plugins to access content that you develop on these platforms? If you're developing content for a client, does this client care which one is better if few of their customers can view it?
Now, I'm not a big fan of this argument in and of itself. I am a Mac guy, after all, and Mac guys don't cotton to any ad populem arguments. If Shockwave 3D were garbage, I'd say forget about it, use what's best and promote it so that it becomes the dominant standard. But Shockwave 3D is incredibly easy to develop; it looks nice on the user end; it's flexible in terms of bandwidth; and it offers some extra goodies that you might just be interested in. So, in short, it's worthwhile in and of itself.
Here's what I think makes it nice.
First, as I mentioned, it's easy to develop for. Director 8.5 adds two new library categories for controlling 3D, as well as 300 new Lingo commands. (Lingo is Director's scripting language.) So let's say you have a 3D television. You want people to be able to rotate the television around, zoom in, pan, dolly, etc. How do you do it? Just as with the 2D library items, you simply drag the behavior onto the object, adjust your preferences and click OK. Save it; embed it in your Web page; and everybody can interact with your 3D television. The same goes with several other 3D library features. Plus, you can even use many of the 2D behaviors on 3D objects. Just drag them onto your 3D object as you would onto a 2D object.
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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications.