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Part VIII: Controlling the Environment > Using Macromedia Generator

Chapter 30. Using Macromedia Generator

by Darrel Plant

In this chapter

Using Generator Templates

Using a Generator Object

Troubleshooting Generator

Did You Know?

Macromedia Generator is a powerful tool for creating custom Flash movies, projectors, and a variety of other graphics formats.

Previous chapters looked at a number of ways to change how a movie looks or operates based on ActionScript, external data files, and so on. That tactic requires that a movie contains all the graphics and artwork it can possibly display, not just the graphics that are necessary.

Generator can create Flash movies containing just the absolute essentials for a particular viewer, in addition to Animated GIFs, JPEG images, and a number of other file formats that have been customized for a specific purpose.

Generator has two basic components. The authoring templates come with Flash 5 and let you create and test files intended for use with Generator. The server-side component of Generator is used for real-time creation of individual files, and comes in two versions:

  • The Developer's Edition can process a single file at a time and costs about $1,000.

  • The Enterprise Edition is meant for more robust e-commerce sites, with prices starting at $30,000.

Both versions of the server-side Generator run on Windows, Sun Solaris, and Linux operating systems.

Generator can create a wide variety of file formats, including Flash and QuickTime movies; GIF, JPEG, and PNG bitmaps; imagemaps; text files; and projectors for both Mac OS and Windows.

Two major approaches to creating dynamic Flash movies exist. The methods you've used in this book covered loading variables and movies, which is usually the simplest procedure. Generator represents the other approach, which is more complex and requires more planning but provides an enormous amount of flexibility for delivering customized movies and graphics.

As an example, if you were to create an online greeting card system that allowed personalized messages to be viewed by the recipient, how would you go about it?

A non-Generator approach would be to have the card's sender enter the greeting in a form. The form would be submitted to a server-side script (or even encoded with JavaScript), and a URL would be sent to the recipient as an e-mail. When the recipient clicked the URL in her mail program, a Flash movie would appear and then use the Load Variables action to read personalized data from a database, the URL, or through some other scheme.

Without Generator, the personalization data must come from an outside source. You can use ActionScript to change the content displayed inside the movie by modifying dynamic text fields and controlling the display of movie clips (or loading external movies). However, the Flash movie can't be self-contained.

With Generator, you can create a new Flash movie containing just the necessary data. Instead of e-mailing a URL or an HTML page containing a URL, you can send a self-contained SWF file (one that can be viewed without any external data). Alternatively, you can also send a JPEG or GIF image, or even a standalone projector.



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