When Quark pulled the plug on its Mtropolis software last March, Macromedia Director–a;ready the dominant multimedia-authoring packagehad the market pretty much to itself. Now, as Macromedia (415/252-2000, http://www.macromedia.com ) releases Director 7, the program faces a potential new rival from a company cofounded by two former Apple executives. That company, Tribeworks (415/732-7004, http://www.tribeworks.com ), has developed an authoring program called iShell that lets producers create complex multimedia presentations using a visual interface.
Director on the Web
Director 7 continues Macromedia's strategy of positioning its applications as Web production tools. The upgrade incorporates Shockwave 7, a new version of Macromedia's Web-based multimedia format that improves streaming capabilities and automatically updates the Shockwave players on client machines. The upgrade also lets you export vector animations in the Flash 3 format, which now supports transparency. New HTML features let you create Web pages that trigger multimedia actions, such as animating a headline, when the user clicks on a hyperlink.
The upgrade also features enhancements to the Lingo scripting language, along with new onion-skinning and alpha-channel functions.
Director 7 is offered as part of the $999 Director 7 Shockwave Internet Studio, which also includes Fireworks for Web-graphics production and Bias Peak LE for sound editing.
Out of Its Shell
Tribeworks is a new company cofounded by Patrick Soquet, developer of Apple Media Tool, and Duncan Kennedy, formerly the QuickTime product marketing manager for Apple. The vendor's iShell is a software suite consisting of iShell Editor, the main authoring tool; iShell Runtime, which permits playback of iShell presentations; and a software developer's kit, which lets you create iShell plug-ins. You can deploy iShell presentations on the Web, but the company expects that users will employ the software primarily to produce CD-ROMs and electronic kiosks.
The software's visual interface uses containers to store media elements. You can assign behaviors to a container by dragging them from a list. Presentations created with the program can retrieve media elements from local storage devices, either through a local-area network or over the Internet.
The company has chosen an unusual strategy for marketing the software. Instead of offering iShell as a product, Tribeworks is selling $2,000 annual subscriptions that include upgrades, technical assistance, and marketing support.
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