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Let the eat Java

March 9, 1998
by Zac Belado

As many of you may know, my days are taken up with quite a lot of development that doesn't use Director. Mostly web-based database applications and systems. Almost all of these are developed with a very cool server-side application called Cold Fusion. And without exception almost all of them would benefit, and benefit greatly, from a Shockwave front-end.

This makes last week's announcement that the Flash plugin would be bundled with future versions of Netscape Navigator very frustrating.

It's times like this that you begin to wonder if the people that "run" the companies in our market really understand what they are doing and what could be done with their technologies? All the hype aside, there are days when I think that Marc Andresson stopped having good ideas after he got the brainstorm that created Netscape. Macromedia seems more interested in making their "investors" and large entertainment happy at the expense of the developers that put them into the position they now hold.

It may sound cynical but it's really the only thoughts you can have when you see a wonderful technology like Shockwave get short shrift compared to Flash. Flash is a very cool technology but aside from smooth looking eyecandy, what can it do? Can you make a database front-end with it? Can you make a game with it? Can you generate a robust website navigation system with it?

Disney likes Flash though. And the Macromedia investor's like that Disney likes Flash. So guess which technology is bundled with Navigator?

Certainly not the one that developers have been begging for.

This issue is going to come to a head and Macromedia may soon have a mass exodus of developers on its hands if it doesn't do something to fix this situation. Macromedia is obviously a company that is pinning its future on the web; and with extremely good results. Dreamweaver is a run-away success, Fireworks (at least on the Mac) is an exceptional product, and Flash is becoming almost ubiquitous.

But whither Shockwave?

Why is it that the one product that makes web-based development so easy is treated with such disdain? And treated so by its creators? Recent advertising from Macromedia has trumpeted Director's ability to export Java. But where have been the ads showing the superiority of Shockwave-based applications to Java? The cleaner UI, the faster development cycle, the smaller learning curve?

Or does Disney like Java too?

Zac Belado is a programmer, web developer and rehabilitated ex-designer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He currently works as an Application Developer for a Vancouver software company. His primary focus is web applications built using ColdFusion. He has been involved in multimedia and web-based development, producing work for clients such as Levi Straus, Motorola and Adobe Systems. As well, he has written for the Macromedia Users Journal and been a featured speaker at the Macromedia Users Convention.

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