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Macromedia updates multimedia tools

The software maker announces a new version of Director, one of the company's oldest applications.

Macromedia on Monday announced a new version of Director, the company's multimedia authoring tool.

Director is one of Macromedia's oldest applications, dating back to the days when multimedia content was mainly distributed on CD-ROMs rather than over the Internet. Key markets for the software include companies building custom educational and training software and developers creating simple games and other animation for Macromedia's Shockwave player.

The new Director MX 2004 adds support for the JavaScript language, intended to make the applications more accessible to developers unfamiliar with Macromedia's Lingo format. The move mirrors the recent release of a version of Macromedia's Flash developer tools modified to mimic the way Java developers work.

"We're enabling people to script using an industry-standard scripting language," said Miriam Geller, director of product management for Macromedia. "The addition of JavaScript now makes Director accessible to a lot of people who may not have wanted to take the time to learn a new language."

The new Director also supports more media formats, including Microsoft's Windows Media and DVD video. The software also links with latest versions of Macromedia's Web design and development tools, including Flash MX 2004. Director MX 2004 will allow easier import and faster processing of Flash content and will include a number of prefab Flash components for building user interfaces.

"The types of things we've focused on are really things that let people get their work done more efficiently and get people into the application more quickly," Geller said.

Other new features include the ability to create projector files in one step for Macs and Windows-based PCs; support for most major video, audio, bitmap, 3D and vector formats; and customizable stage and movie-in-a-window interfaces.

Macromedia Director MX 2004 works with Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Mac OS 10.2.6 and higher. It is set go on sale in February, priced at $1,199 for new users and $399 for those upgrading from Director 8.5 and Director MX.