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"Director Is Not Dead"

Adobe's Tom Higgins talks Director By Kevin Schmitt

Long-time Director users have been wondering where the product has been heading even before Macromedia was swallowed up by Adobe, so who better than Adobe's Product Manager for Director and the Shockwave Player himself, Tom Higgins, to bring us up-to-date on the latest goings-on in the world of Director? The bottom line seems to be that the Director faithful can breathe a little easier, as Adobe appears not to have forgotten about you.

KEVIN SCHMITT, DMN: Before the Shockwave Player and Flash and QuickTime authoring Xtra updates were released back in March, things had been very quiet on the Director front for quite some time. Additionally, many users (myself included) remain concerned that very little has been mentioned about Director in the midst of Adobe's acquisition of Macromedia. The flurry of updates offers some hope, but the million-dollar question remains: is Director dead?

TOM HIGGINS, ADOBE: To be clear: Director is not dead. Following the Director MX 2004 release, Macromedia reduced promotional efforts but did demonstrate commitment to Director by fixing bugs in a pair of dot-releases and by delivering a new Flash 8 Asset Xtra for free to Director MX 2004 customers. Director is a market-leading product with a loyal and substantial user base. Adobe will continue to invest in Director and develop new releases targeting current and future innovations in multimedia development. Adobe is firmly behind Director and the Shockwave Player and as such the product team has been reinvigorating our efforts on all fronts to ensure that people know that Director and the Shockwave Player are very much alive and growing.

Adobe's Tom Higgins
Adobe's Tom Higgins

KS: Two-parter for you: there are major changes either underway or in the pipeline for both the Mac and Windows platforms. Apple is transitioning to Intel processors, while the release of Windows Vista is now less than a year away (maybe...finally). One, will Director and Shockwave be keeping up with these platform advances? And two, with Director noticeably absent from Adobe's now-infamous Support for Intel Mac FAQ document, can you comment specifically about Adobe's plans to bring Universal Binary support to the Shockwave Player, Director Projectors, and the Director authoring environment itself?

TH: Director will be updated to run natively on Intel-based Macintosh computers and on the Windows Vista operating system. In addition, Adobe plans to update projector creation abilities and the Shockwave Player to offer native run-time playback on the full range of modern hardware and operating systems. This will enable developers to create content for both Intel-based Macintosh computers and the Windows Vista operating system.

KS: I may not be speaking for the Director community at large, but Director has suffered, in my opinion, from a lack of clarity over what it is and what markets it addresses. Some may be using it to develop end-to-end multimedia programs, some might employ Director solely as a Flash enhancement utility, and others may be creating Shockwave-based games for online play. There are probably a million more examples, but the point is that Director is a powerful and varied application that can fill a lot of needs, yet remains a difficult program to explain, categorize, and perhaps even market. Do you agree with that assessment and, if so, what (if any) plans do you have to better communicate where Director fits in?

TH: Director and Shockwave are the leading multimedia development tool and web-player, uniquely suited to creating on-line or downloadable games, creating training and educational content, and creating desktop-based applications. Director and Shockwave have many applications and are currently targeted at four major markets.

The first is the Games/3D Simulations market?interactive game content, whether for on-line or desktop-based playback, Director and the Shockwave Player are most often used to create and play "casual games". Educational and training content may incorporate 3D games and simulations to enhance the user experience.

Then there is Desktop Applications/Prototyping?applications meant to be installed and/or run from a client computer?for example, distributed and installed applications, enhanced CD/DVD applications, and kiosk-based applications. Applications that are to be developed using lower-level languages (C/C++) can quickly be prototyped using Director, streamlining product/design validation.

Third is Educational and Training Content?applications, games or software tools developed to assist in training or educating the end-user about a particular topic. The use of interactive games in educational content is a fast growing trend.

Fourth, there is of course Flash Content Extension?Flash developers may seek ways to extend their development abilities. Director allows developers to incorporate Flash movie assets and thereby offer the additional functionality provided by Director and the Shockwave Player.

Adobe is increasing marketing efforts in the coming months to clearly communicate the Director/Shockwave value proposition.

KS: The last few releases of Director have contained some arguably niche features (such as DVD features and the 3D engine), moves which the cynical among us may have seen as purely reactionary in order to keep Director relevant (or, for the less cynical, distinct) as Flash became more and more of a main attraction. Is the "hot new feature X!" approach one we'll see more of in the future, or will further development efforts be spent on shoring up core functionality, addressing longstanding bugs, and generally giving the product a solid base for the future? (Or both? Or neither?)

TH: While I think many would debate whether Director's 3D engine and DVD features are "niche" features, Adobe does plan to improve the core product and improve general product stability as part of Adobe's overall commitment to delivering quality software products.

KS: And, to cap things off, do you have any big announcements in the works, preferably something you'd like to share here (wink wink, nudge nudge)?

TH: Well, at this time we're just now getting the word out that our next major release of Director will be available in the first half of 2007.

Unfortunately I cannot provide specifics at this time, but hopefully I have whetted your appetite and made crystal clear that Director and the Shockwave Player are alive and thriving in Adobe. We will share information on the new release along with a few other tidbits in a FAQ document that will be posted to the Adobe Web site ( later this month.

Well, well, well, fresh dirt, straight from the source. Let's recap: Director is not only alive, but apparently well. Intel Mac-native and Windows Vista versions are on the way, and a new release should be coming next year. Exciting stuff for Director fans, so keep your eyes peeled for more coming out of Adobe. Thanks to Tom Higgins for the eye-opening information.

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Though the fame, riches, and notoriety of being a DMN contributor are both tantalizing and substantial, Kevin Schmitt still stubbornly insists on continuing his work as the Director of Interactive Services at EFX Media, a production house located just outside of Washington, D.C. Feel free to follow his updates and contact him through Twitter if you have something to share - he's ready to believe you!
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