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Director 5.0 to ship this month

By the end of this month, Macromedia is planning to release the first new version of its popular Director multimedia authoring software in nearly two years.

By the end of this month, Macromedia is planning to release the first new version of its popular Director multimedia authoring software in nearly two years.

The company will formally unveil Director 5.0 tomorrow at Intermedia World in San Francisco. Multimedia developers say the release will come none to soon.

"I cannot overemphasize the importance of Director 5.0 for the world, especially in the face of [Macromedia's] first serious competition--from mTropolis," said Alex Mann, the principal at Mann Consulting, a multimedia development company in San Francisco. "Companies like mine live and die with [Director]."

mFactory's mTropolis is a multimedia authoring tool announced last April.

But Macromedia is not relying only on its traditional market to make this release a success. The company's Shockwave multimedia playback technology for the Web will be able to bring Director movies and graphics created in the Freehand illustration package to the Web. And as the Internet market skyrockets, the company is hoping that the growing popularity of Shockwave will drive sales of Director and FreeHand through the roof.

Director 5.0 will add a new plug-in architecture to let third-party developers create add-on utilities called Extras. Director 5.0 will, however, also support plug-ins created for Adobe Photoshop, which already has a thriving third-party development community.

The upgrade will also come with anti-aliasing text, a feature expected to dramatically improve the appearance of text in Director movies. "Anti-aliasing text is so desperately needed, it's a joke," Mann said. "The text feature currently in Director is very crude."

Version 5.0 will also let developers create CD-ROM titles that load more speedily on users' computers.

Macromedia today said that it will offer Director 5 as part of its Director Multimedia Studio 2, a suite of software tools that bundles the authoring package with Macromedia xRes 2.0 image editing software, Extreme 3D rendering software, and SoundEdit 16 Plus Deck II. SoundEdit 16 Plus Deck II, unveiled today, is a software-only sound recording and manipulation program for the Macintosh.

Multimedia Studio will sell for $999; registered owners of Macromedia Director 4.0 can upgrade to Studio for $499.

In a related announcement, Macromedia said it will ship the final release of Shockwave for Director next week for Windows 3.1 and 95. The Macintosh version is still in beta, as is the FreeHand version of Shockwave, and the company has not yet set final ship dates.