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With seemingly everyone focused on creating content for the Web, it’s easy to forget that you sometimes need to deliver media and presentations in a physical, higher-bandwidth form. Abvent’s Katabounga 3.0 lets you create and script fully-interactive multimedia presentations for delivery on CD-ROM, in kiosks, or as live presentations. Capable of handling just about any media, Katabounga offers a nice balance of icon-based authoring and more-complex scripting, as well as cross-platform playback. Unfortunately, the package’s documentation is so impenetrable it makes it very difficult to learn.
Katabounga presentations comprise a series of screens arranged into scenarios. Screens similar to pages in a Web site or cards in a HyperCard stack, while scenarios are simply a way of organizing screens into a larger structure. The Project window lets you easily create, title, and rearrange screens and scenarios.
Screens can consist of still images, QuickTime movies, QuickTime VR objects, buttons, sprites, or text elements.
You create controls such as buttons, scroll bars, and dials by importing separate graphics for each state of the control. Though Katabounga takes care of changing the control’s state, the program won’t automatically create any graphics. And since the program provides no drawing tools of its own, you’ll need to create your graphics elsewhere. You can, however, enter text or import external text files for display on screen, and you can easily create hypertext links in any block of text, making Katabounga a simple tool for creating complex hypertext systems.
Katabounga combines point-&-click authoring with a full-blown scripting language for specifying how each object will handle particular events. To add functionality to a button or object, you drag the appropriate command handler from the Commands palette and drop it onto your object; you then configure its behavior using a dialogue box. But although Katabounga’s selection of commands is comprehensive, the Commands palette’s icons offer no tool tips or labels.
For more-complex interactivity, you can use the program’s Bounga scripting language to control media management and navigation, and to manipulate graphics. But although it includes repeat loops and if/then constructs, it lacks more-sophisticated logical structures and suffers from inconsistent syntax. Finally, Katabounga’s manual is among the worst we’ve seen. Offering no tutorials and horrid organization.
Katabounga 3.0 is a stable, well-conceived, well-implemented package. Though it comes up a little short on content creation and its scripting language isn’t as fluid as others, its point-&-click authoring tools and impressive media management make it a good authoring environment. Expect to spend a lot of time experimenting, though – the program’s documentation will offer little help.