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Review Valentina

Added on 4/1/2001



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Author: MediaMacros (website)

Valentina for Macromedia Director (V4MD) is a Director Xtra that brings the power of Paradigma Software's "object-relational" database engine to Macromedia's flagship multimedia development tool, Director. V4MD extends Director's features and helps you build fast, database-driven multimedia titles. You can use V4MD to create interactive applications such as electronic catalogs, storybooks, kiosks, training materials, sales materials, games, and more. You can use it as a back-end to your multimedia projects, to efficiently manage text, numeric data, dates, images, sound clips as well as any type of media that Director can store in its members. Valentina for Director is one of many Valentina database technology solutions from Paradigma Software. Valentina solutions exist for Purity Software's WebSiphon, REAL Software's REALbasic, Microsoft Visual C++ and Metrowerks CodeWarrior, XCMD, with transparent file compatibility between all developer solutions.

If you program in Director for very long, there will be a project that requires a lot of data to be sorted, sending you into the frenzy of trying to choose a database Xtra to use with your project. Well, never fear, Paradigma's Valentina is here. Valentina is supported on both Mac and Windows making authoring much simpler, but can also be used in other applications like Web Siphon, REALbasic, C++, and more. This flexibility opens up additional possibilities by allowing you to integrate your web site, other applications, and more with your Director project to share data in one uniform format.

Valentina's strength is definitely its raw speed. In search, adding and sorting tests with other popular database Xtras it outperformed by ranges of 10 to 850 times faster. Still, skeptical? Well, they offer the files on their web site that you can download and test yourself. While most projects don't require the addition of 100,000 successive records at once, the speed can come in handy for repetitive methods like word sorting and indexing, large document searches, and any situation that calls for masses of data to be sorted quickly. You can use existing databases in your project, but you will need to output them into a delimited text file for Valentina to read, as it does not support any other formats for import and export.

The only minor drawback to Valentina is the lack of tools and examples on the site. While the database is easy to set up, a simple database browser or utility to view the data in a Director format (and source code to it would be nice, too) is missing. There are tools on the site to test SQL queries and an all purpose browser for Mac users (PC users are on their own here), but you must dive into the manual to get the lingo set up sans examples. The good side of this is a well written, manual, that is not overly wordy and is easy to reference items in quickly. It would be nice to see an Authorware version, but there are plans to launch an ActiveX/com version in the near future that might fill the void perfectly.

Support is very strong with a Valentina-L mailing list that users can join to chat with other developers for tips to using Valentina in Director and other applications. The list is fairly active and has a number of Valentina employees actively involved which shows a dedication of the company to support rather than just leaving the users to help one another. Weighing in at a low cost of $195 for one platform and $295 for both, Valentina is competitively priced especially for its power.

Overall, we have to give Valentina a big thumbs up! It is well built, straight forward to use, flexible, fast, fast, and did I mention FAST! If you have the need for speed, or want to expand your project into non-Director realms, this is the Xtra for you.



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