Adobe Director 11 review

£811
Price when reviewed

Director was for many years the de facto production tool for the multimedia industry. Throughout the 1990s it was responsible for the vast majority of educational CDROMs due to its range of features, relative ease of use and the fact that it could create executables for both Apple and Microsoft operating systems.

The early 2000s saw Director slip off the radar of most multimedia professionals superseded by stable-mate Flash amongst others – you’d need to go back to 2001’s Director 8.5 for the last significant upgrade to its feature set. But now it’s back with version 11 – the first new release in four years.

Adobe pitches Director 11 at three main target audiences: multimedia authors, elearning developers and game developers. Version 8.5 added 3D capabilities to Director specifically targeted at the games market and version 11 aims to extend these by adding DirectX9 native 3D rendering and the AGEIA PhysX engine to handle multiple object collisions.

It uses a timeline-based approach that bears a passing resemblance to that of Flash CS3, and productions are put together using a combination of imported media, text and scripts. These scripts can be created using Director’s own basic-like Lingo scripting language or an enhanced version of Javascript that resembles ActionScript.

The most welcome improvements in this version are to the scripting interface. Director users spend most of their time working in the script editor and being able to browse the list of available Lingo functions and double click to insert one is a welcome improvement. However, these improvements are too little too late and the script editor remains primitive and irritating compared with most other programming interfaces.

Director’s working environment has been slightly improved too, with (finally) window docking and tabbed views introduced, but this is hardly leading edge and Adobe’s CS3 family interface is conspicuous by its absence.

Indeed, this is an upgrade that feels as though it should be an incremental release. The “top ten new features” list provided by Adobe includes support for new media types including Quicktime 7, Windows Media and RealPlayer, support for Adobe’s own Flash CS3 and Unicode support which makes the development of multi-lingual applications simpler. As long as you don’t want text that displays right to left that is.

Director MX 2004 added the ability to create deliverables for both Mac and PC from either platform, and version 11 extends this to include Intel-based Macs and full Vista compatibility. But this is where we start to run into problems. In order to view Director content online, your audience needs the 4.5MB Shockwave plugin: a significant issue given that Shockwave 8.5 or later is installed on less than 50% of European PCs.

Perhaps the biggest problem for Director, however, is that its position in the market overlaps that of Flash to such a degree that there are very few situations in which Director would be the preferred choice. Broadly speaking, it’s true to say that Flash’s natural home is the internet so if you’re developing a CDROM, Director would seem to be the better choice. However, Director’s only real advantage over Flash is its native support for 3D making it an ideal choice for 3D games, most of which are online.

To further muddy the water, Adobe’s AIR technology makes it possible to deploy Flash as a desktop application and there are many more Flash applications being deployed on CDROM or for download than Director applications.

Details

Software subcategoryOther software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes
Other operating system supportNone

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