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For the want of a Browser Flag...

June 4, 1998
by Alex Zavatone

This is a modified version of an email I sent out to a Director mailing list on Monday the 13th, 1998:

For the want of a browser flag (Written while sitting on a milk crate)

A while ago, the New Director codebase, aka the portable player plugin shared globals across plugin instances which would be:

  1. bad because of potential global variable conflicts
  2. great for intermovie messaging.

Recently, today in fact, I was faced with the need in a commercial project to message from movie to movie. Javascript messaging is not acceptable due to all the x browser config issues. My intermovie communication routines at: http://www.blacktop.com/zav/shockwave relied on the common pref file and therefore would disk thrash when used frequently.

Now, DJ pulled the global sharing between movie instances due to requests from Normanagement and there was no obvious way to enable this feature on an as needed basis.

But how about this? Have a browser flag called "commonVariableSpace" that would allow any shockwave launched with this flag set to a unique identifier (preferably named "mySWSpace") to be able to check and write to any global variable from any other movie running in the same shared space. Or (as someone pestered) have a movie property that is selected from a pulldown in the movie properties menu that would turn this on or off. This would be fantastic in shockwave because we could create distributed objects that can communicate between each other by occasional polling. Song playlists in one frame and the player in another. Stock charting engines that use data from elsewhere. Component shockwaves that just do a specific task isolated from what is creating the data that they use.

Cool huh?

But here's the kicker. What if shockwave or the Director Player were to become an OS mediatype. And what if it had the capability to upgrade itself and download component xtras when needed. Then little shockwave distributed apps could be running all over the desktop in their own space communicating, grabbing stuff off the net, and creating a much larger market for Director developers and Macromedia itself.

What if...

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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