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Review Windows For Shockwave

Added on 4/1/2003


D8 D8_5 D9 Mac PC Shockwave


Author: MediaMacros (website)

Windows For Shockwave 3.0 (WFS 3.0) is a set of behaviors for Director 8+ (not an Xtra) that allows drag and droppable creation of onstage windows, modal dialog boxes, cascading menus, right-click (Control+click in Mac) pop-up menus, and good cursor image control. It can be used in the creation of Shockwave movies or Projectors. The drag and drop behaviors are suitable for Director developers with no Lingo knowledge

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Ah, lingo as it should be.  Reusable, easy and flexible.  The ideal for any developer is to create systems in which we can rapidly reuse our code so that each time we create with a set of behaviors it becomes simpler and faster. (And if you do not have your own behavior library started already, shame on you.)  ;)  This is just what Windows for Shockwave gives you.  A set of rapidly reusable components that allow some very advanced and seamless interaction.

So what all will this do for you?  Well it has many uses.  Originally created to allow dialogs and fake windows in Shockwave, it allows for modal and non-modal "windows", cascading menus, popup menus, parent/child relationships of windows and objects and more. Think of it as a behavioral replacement for many OS style elements for navigation and windows. You can make the elements look like you want them to look.

Don't let the name mislead you. Windows for Shockwave is useful outside of the browser as well.  Sometimes MIAWs (Movie in a window) or LDMs (Linked Director movies) are too complex or come with their own problems for simple implementations.  Also, the menu features and nesting ability of WFS are much easier than tying to create hierarchies with real windows. The elements are easy to customize and are built with standard sprites on the stage.  No fancy Director coding required. You can even let objects live "inside" others via parent-child relationships.  There is a great example in one of the tutorials that illustrates adding sprites to windows and moving objects inside "windows". Close the windows, move the windows, etc and the sprites added to the "window" follow right along. This is something that is difficult or impossible with real MIAWs.

One nice thing about this behavior set is its raw simplicity of use.  Each element, either menu or window, starts with a Manager that hides on stage.  Then you simply set up the window and menu visually and add on the behaviors. It's WYSIWYG development all the way.  Even the novice Director user will find this fairly easy as they go through the simple and easy- to- follow tutorials included with the library.  Just drop in your elements, add the behaviors, and go.

More advanced users can still benefit from this library as well.  Rapid development can save hours of custom coding, although there is one area that can be a slight drawback.  This is an entirely sprite generated approach so with it comes a few caveats.  Let's take a complex menu, for example.  If we have ten root level items, with ten sub items each, and ten third level items for those, we just hit 1110 text sprites.  This is a big load to manage on screen for layout and even worse, we are 110 sprites over what Director can use without even adding the UI elements.  Granted this is a worst-case scenario, but it would be great to see some bit of dynamic coding in the future.   Menu lists, using one text member per level, or dynamically resizing and placing sprites, etc could considerably reduce the load on the score, and imaging lingo could be utilized as well to give it full dynamic control.

No product can be everything to everyone, but this is a great tool for anyone wanting to rapidly add windows, dialogs and menus to their program with little hassle and almost no complexity.  Documentation is clear and support is fast and responsive. Top that all off with the incredibly low price tag and there really is not any reason not to buy. For $30 you get the full source code and regular updates, so you can always expand the code base to suit your own needs.  If it saves you 15-20 minutes of work alone it pretty much has paid for itself.

My recommendation, take some of that extra software cash (or skip a lunch or two out if you have to) and get this library.  You'll be glad you did.  



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