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I love working with Director. By education, I am a computer scientist and a journalist. By nature, I am a problem solver. I love using both logic and imagination. Director requires me to use all these things.

If you have a job in which you work all day with Director, consider yourself lucky. You probably already do. In fact, you have probably said to yourself before: “I can't believe I get paid for this!”

Director is a great tool for creating software. On one hand, you can quickly bring to life your ideas. On the other hand, Director is an environment that inspires new ideas as you explore it.

The possibilities for animators are incredible, even if they never choose to do any programming. Director also has built-in programs called behaviors that expand the possibilities a thousand times for those looking to make interactive presentations.

If you are willing to go on to learn Lingo, the programming language of Director, the possibilities for your creations become virtually limitless. There are more than 800 Lingo keywords in Lingo including all standard programming language structures. This makes Lingo every bit as powerful as languages such as C++, Pascal, and Java. In some cases, it's even more powerful.

The results of your work can be easily distributed to the world. You can create standalone applications to send over the Internet or burn into CD-ROMs. You can embed your creations into HTML pages for the Web. You can even create a Java applet.

Many people in the computer industry still think of Director as it was in version 3: an animation tool with a simple scripting language. However, each version since then has added a huge array of powerful features. Director is now the most advanced animation tool ever, with one of the most advanced programming languages.

Anyone who says, “You can't do that in Director,” doesn't really understand the power or depth of Director 8.5.

Do You Need To Update Your Book?

If you already have the previous edition, “Special Edition Using Director 8,” then you are probably wondering what is new in this version. The changes in this book reflect the changes in Director itself. So, for instance, when it comes to sound, there are no changes from Director 8.0 to 8.5, so I didn't see the need to make any changes in the book either.

The main reason to upgrade to this book is the addition of two large chapters on the new Director 8.5 3D engine (Chapters 38, “Using 3D Media,” and 39, “3D Lingo”). There is so much new material there that these two chapters are almost like a book inside a book.

In addition, I added a lot to the Multiuser Server chapter to cover the new Multiuser Server features. The Lingo Reference guide at the back of the book now includes almost 400 new 3D commands and functions. Chapter 4, “Text and Field Members,” has been updated to talk about 3D text. Chapter 20, “Controlling Vector Graphics,” has been updated with the new Lingo Flash commands. I even added some 3D terms to the glossary.

The one chapter that I removed from the book was the old Chapter 37, “Creating Java Applets.” Why did I remove it? Well, the “Save As Java” feature of Director is now gone. Macromedia removed this feature from Director 8.5 due to lack of use.

So if you already have Special Edition Using Director 8 and you are trying to decide whether to upgrade to this book, you have to ask yourself if you plan to use these new features.

People will also vary on how important it is to them to have an up-to-date reference. Some will decide to get by on the older edition, while others must have the latest and greatest.

Who Should Read This Book?

Chapter 1, “Animation with Director,” assumes that you are a total beginner and have never used Director before. However, it does not assume that you lack intelligence.

The first two chapters move quickly through the basics. Those chapters, like the rest of this book, state concepts and techniques clearly, and never assume you know something about Director before it is taught in the book.

The idea is to not waste time by walking you step-by-step through basic and simple tasks. Instead, this book assumes that you are a motivated learner, wanting to read, absorb, understand, and then move on to the next piece of information.

If you are an animator or are simply using Director to create presentations, Chapters 1 through 11 are for you. They go into detail about making animations and presentations without using any Lingo programming.

If you want to learn Lingo, Chapter 12, “Learning Lingo,” and the following chapters teach you from the ground up. Like Chapters 1 and 2, these chapters do not assume you know anything about Lingo or programming in advance. However, they move quickly, and a motivated learner can be programming in Lingo in a matter of hours.

If you are interested in advanced Lingo techniques, the later chapters are filled with high-level Lingo programs. I have continued the practice of my earlier books in providing more advanced Lingo concepts than any of the other books on the market.

If you are already familiar with Director and Lingo, but want to get up to speed on the new 3D engine, then you could jump right to Chapters 38 and 39.

Finally, if you are seeking a good reference book on Director, this book will beat or rival any other. I have tried to cover all topics, even ones that other books do not explore. In addition, I have made the reference section comprehensive. It features a full Lingo dictionary and many other useful appendixes.

What This Book Doesn't Have

This book has a lot of useful information crammed in between the covers. But it doesn't have everything.

Director is such a huge program that there is no way to go into detail about everything. There is no way to cover every aspect of Director for beginner, intermediate, and advanced users.

There's not even a consensus about what “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” mean. I've seen some users who call themselves advanced, but they can hardly program enough Lingo to make a single button, while other “advanced” users are extending Lingo by writing their own Xtras.

Bill Cosby once said, “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

This book will not please everyone. No Director book will. I don't even go into features that are rarely used, like the XML Xtra and RealMedia. If I tried to include everything, then the book would be several thousand pages long, cost a lot more to buy, and wouldn't have been finished until well after Director 9 was released.

I have tried very hard to provide an intermediate to advanced guide to Director 8.5. I have also tried to make this the best general-purpose Director book on the market. Other books may cover a topic or two better than this one, but I believe that this is the book that covers Director as a whole better than any other book you will find.

This Book Is About Director 8 and 8.5

One thing to note is that this book is really for Director 8 and 8.5, not earlier versions of Director. In the past, many people have bought my Director 7 book and tried to use it to learn Director 5 or 6. They, of course, ran into problems.

The differences between Director 7 and Director 8 mean that many of the things in this book will not work in Director 7. In addition, all the examples on the CD-ROM are in either Director 8 or Director 8.5 format and cannot be opened with Director 7. I have tried to make as many example files in Director 8 format so that you can use this book with both Director 8 and 8.5.

Macromedia is definitely not one of those companies that fixes a few bugs and calls it an upgrade. It has added a large number of new features. Other companies should take a lesson from Macromedia about creating upgrades that are really worth the upgrade price.

If you consider yourself a serious developer, you should be using Director 8.5 by the time you read this. Director 7 is a great tool, but Director 8.5 is better. It will empower you to create better products.

How To Use This Book

You can read this book through, or use it for random access reference. If you are just learning Director, or are looking to expand your skills, you can pick a point in the book that seems to match your current skill level and start reading there.

Each chapter makes the general assumption that you know the basics of the material in the previous chapters. However, enough context is given in each chapter for you to fill in the gaps in your knowledge as you go along. There are “See Also” markers throughout the book that refer you both forward and backward in the book to places where a similar topic is covered.

Chapters 1 and 2 are meant to teach the basics, from using Director as an animation tool to using Director as a presentation tool. Chapters 3 through 11 then add to those basics with information about each media type and some more advanced techniques. No Lingo knowledge is required or taught during these chapters.

Chapters 12 through 14 teach Lingo basics. Then, Chapters 15 through 20 build on that knowledge by showing how Lingo can control various types of media. Chapters 21 through 26 are about even more advanced Lingo techniques.

Chapters 27 to 32 are very different from the rest of the book, and from material found in other books. They provide examples of Director movies. An explanation of what each movie does and how it does it, plus the source code for each movie, is given. These are examples that you can use to see how Lingo code is put to use in real-life situations. These chapters also include suggestions for how you can alter and adapt them to make your own movies.

Chapter 37 deals with the Multiuser Server, including the new server-side scripting ability.

Chapters 38 and 39 are new to this edition of the book, and deal with the 3D engine. These are large chapters that can almost be treated as a book inside a book.

The rest of the chapters have information useful for completing a project, such as debugging, performance issues, and building projectors and Shockwave pages.

To round out the book as a reference guide, I have added a complete Lingo quick reference section and many tables and charts as appendixes.

The following list contains a few goals that developers might have for this book and how to go about using the book to accomplish them:

  • Learn Director as a beginner: Start at Chapter 1 and read through Chapter 11, trying all of the examples along the way. Continue to learn Lingo in Chapter 12 when you feel you have mastered Chapters 1-11.

  • Learn to create animation with Director: Read Chapters 1-10.

  • Learn to add interactivity to your animation: Read Chapter 2, and then Chapters 9-11.

  • Learn to create presentations: Read Chapters 1-11.

  • Learn how to create behaviors without using Lingo: Read Chapter 11.

  • Learn how to program basic Lingo: Read Chapters 12-15.

  • Learn how to create behaviors with Lingo: Read Chapter 14.

  • Increase your Lingo skills beyond the basics: First review Chapters 12-15, and then continue to read Chapters 16-26.

  • Learn advanced Lingo techniques: Read Chapters 21-26.

  • Find useful source code that you can reuse: Scan through Chapters 14-26, and then refer to Chapters 27-32 for larger examples.

  • Learn how to optimize and complete a project: Read Chapters 33-36.

  • Learn how to translate your CD-ROM-building Director knowledge to make Shockwave movies: See Chapters 9, 22, 31, 35 and 36.

  • Fill in your existing Director knowledge with a greater understanding of members and techniques: Read Chapters 3-8 to learn about members, 1620 to learn about Lingo related to these members, and then 2126 for advanced techniques.

  • Learn how to create 3D Director movies: If you are already familiar with the rest of Director, then you can go to Chapters 38 and 39 to learn all about 3D.

  • Use this book as your Director 8 reference guide: Familiarize yourself with the table of contents and index to learn where things are in the book. Also scan the appendixes to get an idea of the content there.

Conventions Used In This Book

The following conventions are used to differentiate Lingo keywords from user-defined keywords and any other text with special emphasis:

  • Italic—Used for official Lingo keywords. This includes handlers, commands, properties, and anything found in the official Macromedia documentation. Examples: on mouseUp, on exitFrame, puppetSprite, and the ticks.

  • Quotation marks—Anything made up by the programmer or the author. These keywords can't be found in the official documentation, because they don't exist until the programmer creates them. Examples: “on myHandler” and “myVariable”.

    Messages. A message is an invisible thing that is sent through the Director environment. They have names only as a way to relate to the reader what is going on. Examples: “mouseUp” and “exitFrame”. They look like official keywords, but are not.

    Values. When I want to say something such as: the value of this variable is “hello world”, the value returned is shown in quotes.

  • Monospace—Lines of code and commands that the programmer is asked to type into Director appear in monospace and bold, regardless of keyword type. For example: put 41+1.

This formatting reflects the importance of showing the difference between official Lingo keywords and made-up words.

At the end of most chapters you will find two sections: “Troubleshooting” and “Did You Know?” The first presents some common problems that developers face and how to avoid them. This is in addition to troubleshooting advice found throughout many chapters.

The “Did You Know?” section is something a little different. It contains extra information about the topic. Sometimes the information is a little more advanced than the level of the chapter. Other times it highlights little-known facts or undocumented Lingo. On occasion it simply contains an idea for an interesting application of the information taught in the chapter. In addition, “Tips” and “Notes” placed throughout the chapters provide interesting ideas and methods you might not have considered.

Before You Begin

There are several ways that I recommend beginning to use this book. The first suggestion is for first-time Director users. Play with Director first. Just open the program and play with it. Try all the menu commands and look at some of the tutorials that come with Director.

Another thing that beginners should do is check out as many Shockwave movies on the Web as you can. These give you an idea of what is possible. If you need a place to start, try http://clevermedia.com, a site created by my company, CleverMedia, and me.

Getting grounded by playing with Director and surfing the Web will give you some context as you start reading this book.

If you are a Director user who has just upgraded to Director 8 or 8.5, you should check the next section of this book, “What's New in Director 8 and 8.5.” It has, of course, a list of most of the features new to Director 8 and 8.5.

There are so many new features, I honestly recommend that even an experienced Director 7 user start this book at Chapter 1. However, such a user would be able to move through most of the early chapters quickly.

Another way to use this book is to simply place it next to your computer as a reference. Need to know about using the Behavior Inspector? Chapter 11, “Advanced Techniques.” Need to remember the basics for creating a behavior? Chapter 14, “Creating Behaviors.” Need to create or alter a vector shape? Chapter 20, “Controlling Vector Graphics.” Want to make a game? Chapter 32, “Games.” You get the idea. All in all, there is a lot in this book for every level of Director user. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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