On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations: Using Images, Animations, and Models Effectively
Topical Resources
Cutting Edge > Visualization > Tools for Creating Visualizations > Director

Director

Page content contributed by Jeff Sale, San Diego State University.

(From Macromedia's web site) Author once and deploy anywhere with Director MX 2004, the proven multimedia tool for building rich content and applications for CDs, DVDs, kiosks, and the Internet. Director handles the widest variety of media and offers powerful new features, including two scripting languages, DVD-Video support, cross-platform publishing, and Flash MX 2004 integration.

To Order

Download a 30-day trial version or purchase at http://www.macromedia.com/software/director/

Cost

Retail: $1199, Upgrade from previous version: $399, Educational: $499

Platform Support

Windows and Mac (all versions)

Data Formats

Director uses a proprietary format, but it can import a wide variety of additional media, including audio, video, images, and text. Learn more from the manufacturer...

Integrating with other Tools

Director allows for 3rd parties to develop add-on modules call Xtras. These Xtras provide additional capabilities for Director such as database interfaces, digital video capture, XML parsing, and much more. Learn more about Xtras.

Data Analysis

Director has a powerful built-in scripting language called Lingo that makes it possible to perform true modeling, simulation, and some advanced data analysis. However, this is not Director's primary purpose, and because Lingo is interpreted at runtime, data analysis can be somewhat slow, and thus it is not designed to handle large datasets. Still, Director is very appropriate for educational modeling and simulations and is arguably one of the best for rapid prototyping.

Output Options

Director primarily outputs to standalone executables or shockwave applications for the web. It may also output to QuickTime or AVI movies and bitmap image sequences. Unfortunately, in order to create cross-platform standalone executables for both Mac and Windows, you must own a copy of Director for each OS. This is not the case, however, for shockwave applications for the web.

Usability

Director's interface is quite advanced, with several windows to manage at any one time, so the learning curve can be quite steep depending on your application. However, their built-in tutorials, extensive documentation, and online support make it one of the easiest multimedia development tools to learn, considering its complexity. Director may be distinguished from Macromedia's other two authoring tools, Authorware and Flash, as ideal for educational/instructional applications requiring somewhat advanced customization and interactivity that calls for real programming capabilities. Authorware lacks any kind of programming language. Flash does have an advanced scripting language called ActionScript, but Flash is more commonly used to develop advanced interfaces for marketing and e-commerce, and not so much for education. However, this is simply a generalization and not a rule. Depending on the application, particularly those requiring a low-cost database interface for MySQL using PHP, Flash can be very powerful. Director does offer a database Xtra called V-12, and there was also an open source JDBC server available called fuselight which appears to no longer be available. In short, Director does not integrate as well as Flash with PHP and MySQL.