One feature sure to find widespread use is D8's improved sound control, which allows greater control and synchronization of multiple sounds – including the ability to pan sounds from left to right. A number of new drag-&-drop behaviours make it easy to control and sync sounds. This will make Director even more appealing for those involved in the construction of sound toys, virtual mixing decks, and audio jukeboxes. The predominance of Shockwave as the primary delivery mechanism is emphasized by the Save as Shockwave command being renamed Publish. It offers a number of different Publish settings, defining whether a Java version is exported, or whether the HTML embedded code is included. A Preview in Browser feature resembles that of Fireworks or Dreamweaver. A couple of advances in Shockwave will provide a number of benefits to developers. The first of these is called Runtime Lingo – transition effects that are controlled by Lingo, and can be applied to individual sprites. These can be used to create complex graphics from a number of simple components – the idea being to save bandwidth. Another bandwidth-saver is the option to convert all bitmap graphics to JPEGs, and apply compression options. Shockwave movies are now scaleable – meaning they can be embedded into the full width of a Web page, regardless of how big the browser is, by specifying percentages. However, unless the movie is fully composed of vector sprites or Flash Assets, the need to avoid stretched bitmaps make it of little use to most developers. Perhaps the strongest new feature of the Shockwave Studio is not Director, but the updated Multiuser Server 2. In case you haven't discovered this tool yet, it's a server-based component that allows multiple users to use a Shockwave movie at the same time, and interact. Cue multi-player games, chat rooms, interactive environments and other multi-user capabilities previously only achieved using Java. A little bit extra
Version 2 is more robust, and now offers up to 1,000 simultaneous users, compared to the previous 50. If this isn't enough, third party Xtras can support hundreds of thousands of users simultaneously. Macromedia has set up a trial server to test your multi-user movies, but to deliver them you will need to install the server component on a Web server. The bad news for Macintosh users is that this is currently available only on the NT or Unix operating systems – understandable, given the tiny share of Mac-based Web servers. So what's missing in Director 8? Very little. It remains far and away the most complete multimedia-authoring tool available on any platform. And, its Xtra plug-in architecture mean that pretty much all the gaps have been covered, such as database functionality, 3D integration, and even DVD support. I'm sure support for the next generation of Internet devices, such as WAP, will be covered by a version of Shockwave as and when. Macromedia is well positioned to take advantage of advancements in multimedia and Web technology, and enable developers to distribute Director authored content on as many formats as possible.
The interface enhancements of D8 are a welcome feature, and will speed-up project development, while the grids and updated alignment will provide accuracy more quickly. The new sound tools offer much better synchronization of multiple audio members. But aside from this, there's little that's new in Director 8. The exception is the Multiuser Server, which could have a massive impact on the way online communities are built.