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Director's Grand Unification Theory

July 4, 1998
by Alex Zavatone

In the last installment of Zav's Brain, I talked about how Shockwave movies could communicate with each other IF Macromedia would implement a feature.

Oh how did I miss the big picture.

Director already has a good model for communicating between movies. It's the tell command used in MIAWS. Why poll for values (as I suggested before) constantly when we can broadcast directly to the movie? If Shockwave movies are able to be launched within one of the suggested "virtual memory spaces" then they should be able to communicate through all facilities that people already are used to with the MIAW/stage movie communication methods. Why reinvent the wheel?

So if this were to become the case, shockwaves launched with the same virtual memory space would be able to "tell" each other what to do, they would share global variable space as well allowing sharing of data and the ability to share media through lingo like: set gMyGlobal = the media of member "common UI filmloop".

With this type of functionality running in a browser we've suddenly got the potential to develop these little browser based applets where each applet can communicate with each other and access the net. Suddenly, you've got the capability to develop an app with separate windows running in the browser.

But why limit all this freedom to browser based shockwaves? While playing with the BeOS, I noticed that if you dragged the JPEG media type into the system addons folder that BLAM, all applications suddenly supported the JPEG file format. What if a Director Projector was used in this fashion - as a media type support engine for .dcr files at a system level?

Imagine .dcr files that when double clicked on, would launch a projector that uses system temporary memory, and would launch into their own virtual memory space within the Projector as MIAWS. Now, you've got the intermovie communication between the applets that are .dcrs and the power of the access to the net with the multimedia power of a Projector. Anyone could distribute .dcrs as desktop applets - stock checkers, rewrites of some of the finder's windows, a lightweight browser, desktop chat services and whiteboarding. Director files have just become a system level media type.

But could Macromedia go in this direction? The capabilities built into the new shockwave codebase (IML/portable player if you don't know by now) allow this to happen. The "safe player" features/limitations of the shockwave plugin would have to be removed and Director and projectors would have be built off the Portable Player for starters. Xtra recognition is another issue. But now Director could be sold as an application development tool as well as a multimedia tool. Web savvy desktop applets could be another revenue stream for developers.

A Director user since 1987, Alex (Zav) Zavatone has worked on the engineering teams for both Director and Shockwave, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Recent investigations find him developing foundation classes for Director with asynchronous process management and other life threatening activities. In its early days, he had something to do with this Internet thing known as "DOUG". A noted ne'erdowell, slacker and laggard, Mr. Zavatone is nonetheless is trusted by children, small animals and the elderly. In his spare time, Mr. Zavatone rehabilitates lame desert trout.

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