26.7. Shockwave for Director
Macromedia's Director software
(which significantly predates the Web) has long been the industry
standard for creating multimedia presentations appropriate for
CD-ROMs and kiosk displays. Director movies incorporate images,
motion, sound, interactive buttons, and even QuickTime movies. In
1996, Macromedia introduced the Shockwave system, which enabled
Director movies to be played directly on web pages. While Flash is
better suited for the Web, there are some functions that can only be
done in Director. Following is a summary of Shockwave's pros
Shockwave has a number of attractive features:
It can use Lingo
programming. Because Shockwave can be customized with
Lingo programming, it offers functionality -- such as the ability
to remember user position, keep scores, "know" correct
answers, and other games-related functions -- that cannot be
achieved with Flash. Lingo is a robust scripting environment that
offers more control over object properties, list manipulation, and a
more efficient development environment.
It has good compression.
The Shockwave file format offers
efficient compression ratios, compressing Director movies to 1/3 to
1/2 of their original size.
It has full-featured interactivity.
Shockwave brings full CD-ROM-like interactivity to web pages.
It uses streaming technology.
Shockwave movies begin playing very quickly and continue playing as
they download so they can be pseudo-streamed from an HTTP server.
It has a well supported format. The
Shockwave plug-in is available for Windows and Mac platforms. It is
one of the most popular and widely distributed plug-ins.
It's scriptable. Shockwave
Play( ) and Stop( ). Other
And on the downside . . .
File sizes are larger.
Despite impressive compression, some
Director Shockwave movies (particularly those containing sound and
video content) may still be quite large for transferring over network
connections. Depending on the nature of the content, Shockwave could
be overkill for simple effects (like interactive buttons) that may be
more efficiently handled by Flash.
A plug-in is required. Users need to
have the Shockwave plug-in installed in order to view your Director
movies. The Shockwave plug-in is not as widely distributed as Flash
(as of this writing, Macromedia estimates Shockwave to be installed
on 60% of the Web user base). Many clients still see this as a
There is a larger plug-in footprint.
The plug-in required for playing Shockwave files is about 1MB in size
and requires more system resources to run.
It requires an expensive authoring
tool. In order to create Shockwave movies, you need
Macromedia Director, which costs approximately $995 as of this
It's difficult to author.
Director, with its Lingo programming language, has a steep learning
curve. However, with behaviors (prewritten Lingo scripts that come
with Director), it's fairly easy for beginners to jump in and
accomplish some sophisticated stuff within a short period of time.
It's a proprietary format.
Shockwave movies are in a propriety format that can only be authored
using Macromedia's Director program.
26.7.3. Creating Shockwave Movies
Shockwave movies (which use the
suffix .dcr) must
be created using Macromedia Director. Director is a powerful
multimedia authoring environment. Although learning the basics of the
software itself is not too daunting, to make Director movies do the
really cool interactive stuff, you must learn Lingo, Director's
proprietary programming language. Lingo, although simple by
programming standards, can still take a long time to master, which is
why many designers hire Director and Lingo specialists.
That said, a lesson in Director and Lingo is beyond the scope of this
you're interested in learning Director, I recommend you spend
time with the manual and other available tutorial books. Also, be
sure to take advantage of the excellent support material and
resources on the Macromedia web site. Pay special attention to tips
for optimizing file size and preparing files for streaming.
Once you've created a movie in Director, you must save it in
Shockwave format to make it play over the Web. In Director 8.5 (the
current version as of this writing), use the Publish command (listed
under the File menu) to save your completed movie to Shockwave
format. By default, when you publish a movie, Director automatically
creates a .dcr file and an HTML document that
contains all the code necessary for displaying the Shockwave movie.
Additional export settings (such as generating code for plug-in
detection) are available on the Publish Settings dialog box.
Director 5 used the Afterburner Xtra to save a movie in Shockwave
format. The ability to save directly to .dcr
format was built into Director as of Version 6, making Afterburner
26.7.4. Configuring the Server
Although you don't need
special server software to handle Shockwave files, the server must be
configured to recognize the new MIME type. The specific syntax for
configuration varies for different servers, so coordinate with your
system administrator. The following provides the standard necessary
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