Tab Julius

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In my last article (MXDJ, Vol. 2, issue 2), we looked at how Macromedia Director is extensible, primarily through Xtras (plug-ins); and that there are four major types of Xtras - Scripting/Lingo Xtras, Sprite Xtras, Transition Xtras, and Tool Xtras. Now it's time to look specifically at what's involved in rolling your own Xtra. A full treatment of all the ins and outs, gotchas and nuances of writing Xtras is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article (indeed, it would fill a small book), but we do have enough space to start to show you how to write a basic Scripting Xtra. A Scripting Xtra (they used to be called Lingo Xtras) allows you to call C/C++ functions from within Lingo. You commonly call them in one of two ways - the first by instantiating the Xtra, as in: infile =new(xtra "fileio") which returns an instance you can work with. Alternatively, you can crea... (more)

MOA Tour

In this last article (for now) of a series of articles on Xtra development using Macromedia's Open Architecture, or MOA, I thought it'd be nice to take a quick tour through some of the little quirks, clues, shortcuts, and hints I've accumulated over the years. These are in no specific order other than that I've tried to keep related items together. Director Isn't Loading My Xtra First, make sure it really isn't loading. Unfortunately, in Director, there is no specific menu item that will show you all the Xtras. In later versions of Director you can type "put the xtralist" (without... (more)

MOA City

If I promised to take you to see a foreign city, one where you were not fluent in the language, and didn't know your way around, and then actually flew you there to visit, would you wnat me to just drop you off in the center of town and leave you there? Well, that's sort of what has happened in my last two articles on Xtras (MXDJ, Vol. 2, issues 2-3) - space considerations precluded us from doing everything at once. In my last article, I got you to the city. We went through the steps of building an Xtra and got it so that you could issue a Lingo command that would invoke a "Hel... (more)

A Little Something Xtra

Macromedia Director has proven itself in myriad applications as the development platform of choice. Although Director lets nonprogrammers create multimedia applications, there are a surprising number of developers with traditional software engineering backgrounds who use Director. Why would software engineers, who are perfectly capable of writing in "professional" languages like C/C++, choose to develop applications in Lingo and Director instead of a "real" programming environment? Because Director, despite the occasional quirks, offers a significant advantage over more traditio... (more)