NOVEMBER 25, 2002
First Look: Macromedia Director MX
The Juggernaut of interactive authoring makes its way to Mac OS X
by David Nagel

Ah, the ancient prophecy is nearly fulfilled. Director MX, the last major holdout for Mac OS X in Macromedia's lineup, is arriving next month, none too soon for those of us who've been waiting religiously for its release, huddled in desperation and anxiously reading the signs of its imminent advent. For you, the waiting goes on until December. Me, I have a copy now. But I'm not stingy. Follow me to my inner sanctum that we might explore its unearthed mysteries together....

Before we get started, there are some items about this article that must be noted. First, this is not a review. It's a "first look," with comments made on initial impressions rather than extensive use of the software. (We'll take a deeper look at the software sometime after the commercial version is released next month.) And second, the Director MX we're looking at today is beta software, and I don't intend to criticize it for its current flaws, as any number of fixes, performance enhancements and feature updates can make their way into the final release. We're fortunate to receive pre-release software and to be able to talk about its features with our audience. [an error occurred while processing this directive] With that out of the way, let's take a look at this Juggernaut of interactive authoring, shall we?

Now, as with a lot of mature software out there--Director being 14 years old at this point--this latest full-version release is far more about depth and workflow than breadth and flashiness in new features. And particularly now that Director has made its way into Macromedia's MX fold, you'll see integration and extensibility (through server technologies) dominating the list of new features, as well as its interface and workflow overhaul to bring it in line with the rest of the MX product family.

It also gains enhancements to existing features, such as additional Lingo behaviors and a unified script and debugging window.

When we talk about integration, what do we mean? Well, obviously, it means in some part that it's more finely tuned to work in conjunction with other members of Macromedia's MX product line. But in the case of Director MX, this is somewhat of an understatement, particularly in the cases of integration with Flash MX and, somewhat surprisingly, Fireworks MX. We'll look at Fireworks integration first.

Director MX allows you to set up external editors for cast members through the Editors preferences, including setting external applications as the default editors for any type of file supported by Director. These external editors don't have to belong to the X family line. They can also be third-party applications, such as Adobe Photoshop for images or Discreet Cleaner for QuickTime movies.

But, obviously, the integration is a lot tighter with MX products, in particular Fireworks for bitmap image editing and painting. Let's face it: Director isn't a paint program, and it's not an image editor. But it can work completely seamlessly with Macromedia's own paint and image editing application (Fireworks MX) and fairly well with other paint and image editing applications as well.

Let's say, for example, that you begin with a simple paint cast member, one that you've created in Director.

But you decide that this just isn't painterly enough for you. Without deleting the cast member, you can simply click the Edit button in Director's Property Inspector window or double-click the cast member on the Director stage. This will open up Fireworks, presenting you with a non-standard Fireworks canvas window indicating that you're editing an image from Director and including a "Done" button.

And voila! The cast member is instantly updated in director, no saving, no re-importing.

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