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03.02.2005

Director History

Martin Kloss hat mit einer einfachen Frage einen sehr großen Thread zum Thema "Directors Geschichte" ausgelöst. Da viele ehemalige Macromedians in den einschlägigen Listen unterwegs sind, die direkt an der Entwicklung von Director beteiligt waren, wollen wir Euch eine editierte Fassung aller Threads, die freundlicherweise von Jim Andrews erstellt wurde, nicht vorenthalten. Ich denke, dass man zur Zeit nirgends solch gute und nette Informationen zur Geschichte von Director bekommen kann. Viel Spaß!


*******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 1:43 AM
From: Martin Kloss

Hi everyone,

Can someone point me to a Director history on the web?Terry Schussler once
had a great history, but that's long gone AFAIK. I googled and searched the
mothership site, but to no avail :-(

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 2:53 AM
From: Jim Andrews

Hi Martin,

http://www.lingoworkshop.com/articles/history.php is the only historical doc
on Director online I know of. John Henry Thompson [the Afro-American
inventor of Lingo] used to have a site with some interviews of him on it,
but the site is down.

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 2:53 AM
From: Martin Kloss

Thanks Jim, that's a good one. Does anyone know how many different media
types Director 4 supported, I'm too lazy to dig out my Dir4 copy, install it
and count...

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 7:38 AM
From: Emmanuel Beuque

Believe it or not, I still have it on one of my macs !

D4.0.4
48 sprite channels

supports

bitmap
text (features found in today's fields)
shape (filled or unfilled rect, round rect and ovals + lines) checkbox,
radio button and button
digital video
master script (movie script) and any members could have a script too sound
(recordable directly in Director !)

color palettes were not a member at that time

On macs, projector could be built for 68K macs (less than 280K!), Power Mac
only (less than 650K) or fat (less than 1Megs)

No xtras, only xObjects...

What else would you like to know about this version we were using 10 years
ago ;-)

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 8:38 AM
From: Colin Holgate

You missed Film Loop, PICT, and Movie (meaning QuickTime). Also, Palette was
a member type.

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 12:15 PM
From: David Turk

No xtras, only xObjects...

If memory serves me correctly, could you not also use Hypercard Xcmd, or
whatever they were called, inside Director at that version?

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 12:33 PM
From: Cole Tierney

I never tried it, but I've heard that one could.

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 4:39 PM
From: John Dowdell

This PlayMovie XCMD was actually used inside HyperCard, to play Director
movies... the flow is similar to using a browser plugin today.

(External Commands and External Functions were the two extension mechanisms
in HyperCard, and for awhile Director had an XCMDGlue XObject which helped
Director host many of these extensions.)

I don't know of a single, inclusive history of Director available on the
web, lingoworkshop.com does seem the best, short as it is... part of the
problem is that Director's early history predated the web, so
contemporaneous material didn't get uploaded. There's also some bogus
material too, though... "How I invented Shockwave in 1985" and such.

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 6:19 PM
From: Roger Jones

Most of it is probably best forgotten anyway. Director is the Methuselah of
software, having long outlived its peers. So many people have contributed to
it that no one person has witnessed the whole story. Also people tend to
think of companies like Macr as monoliths when they are in fact collections
of personalities and sea changes occur as those personalities come and go.
Way more interesting than version histories and change logs are the stories
of how the product came to be and how it has passed from the innovators to
the caretakers to the undertakers.

******************************

Sent: January 28, 2005 6:52 PM
From: Luke Wigley

I originally started writing up the history mostly because Director has a
pretty colourful beginning (perhaps mirroring the software-creative arts
cross-over that was 'multi-media' in the 90s). The people involved - Marc
Canter, Jamie Fenton, JT Thompson - don't appear to be your typical
conservative-white-male corporate types. Anyway, if anyone has anything to
add to the article on Lingoworkshop.com - especially any info on Mark Pierce
and others involved in Videoworks/Director 1 - please let me know.

You seem to have been involved with Director as long as I can remember,
John - would you consent to a Q&A; about early strategies for Director - ie
what was motivating development, what features were planned and dropped, how
Macromedia viewed Director's role in the broader context of multimedia
etc -- as part of a historical back-story? (or pass on this request to JH
Thompson)

******************************

Sent: January 31, 2005 5:53 PM
From: Luke Wigley

Q. Back in the time of Director 3.0, when Gaffer was used to create players
for Window, were there also players for other operating systems such as OS/2
and Personal IRIS? And if so, why was support for platforms other than
Mac/Win dropped in the next version (just for cost reasons, or some bigger
philosophical reason)?

Q. What was the thinking in Macromedia when Bill Gates announced the
licensing of the Director player?

Q. Director started out as an animation tool, then became a tool for
'scripting animations/presentations'. At some point, the focus switched to
creating 'interactive multimedia applications'. Was this just a natural
evolution of the product, or was there some conscious strategy (such as to
create a programming/authoring environment that would appeal to designers,
animators and other people who didn't come from a traditional programming
background).

Q. ScriptX was considered (at least by some of us) the potential 'Director
Killer' back in the mid-90s (before it was abandoned by Apple and IBM). It
appeared to be targeting more traditional programmer/techy types than
Director. Did Macromedia consider moving Director further away from its
'user friendly' metaphors and try to make it appeal more to traditional
programmer types - or were you prepared to stick to your guns (and
commanding market share)? Did it have influence on the big 'from the ground
up' rebuild that became Director 7? [on a side note - was there any truth to
the rumours that Macromedia was considering buying ScriptX when Kalieda Labs
floundered? If so, which aspects of ScriptX would have made their way into
Director?]

Q. Was Lingo ever really considered as a sort of 'cross-application' script
language to be incorporated into other Macromedia products?

******************************

Sent: February 1, 2005 2:25 AM
From: Roger Jones

Q. Back in the time of Director 3.0, when Gaffer was used to create players
for Window, were there also players for other operating systems such as OS/2
and Personal IRIS? And if so, whywas support for platforms other than
Mac/Win dropped in the nextversion (just for cost reasons, or some bigger
philosophical reason)?

I believe there was an OS/2 player as well as an Irix player, fm townes
player, a 3DO player, an os9 david player (early set top box os) and of
course save as java. Some of the players may have been announced but never
completed. At one time the MM slogo was "author once, play everywhere". Due
to quirks in the various players we referred to this internally as "Author
everywhere, play once." For a long while every new version had some kind of
novelty player. More recently they have stopped pushing director player
outward and started pulling other players inward (3D, Flash, DVD). Flash has
inherited the portable player mantle.

I recall that irix player was a port of the director windows player and
used the same file format. It didn't last long and only ran on a certain
version of irix (5.2?) Some of Macr's early VCs (Doerr, Kramlich) were also
SGI investors and part of their strategy was to build synergies among their
holdings. I think this is how the player came about.

The original windows player port was done by an outside company and was
buggy as hell. It languished for months in QA and didn't seem to move
forward. This was in 88-89 with Win 3.0 and WFWG. Markie Castle was in QA
then and may have done some testing on the player. Finally two programmers
were brought in house to get things moving, David Jennings and Greggy
Yachuk. They squashed hundreds of bugs in short order and eventually got the
product into a shippable state. Marc was deposed, new management came in.
Not long afterwards director 3.0 shipped. The new CEO called a company
meeting and announced that 3.0 was the final version of director and the
company was dropping mac development ( cuz mac was dead) and shifting focus
to windows business presentation tools (Action!). Prevailing logic at the
time was that director was hopelessly mac centric and the DPW experience
suggested that it would be impossible to port to Win. Bolstered by his
success with DPW, DJ went to management and against all odds convinced them
that it *WAS* possible to put Director on windows. You could say that he
saved Director from its near death experience.

Q. What was the thinking in Macromedia when Bill Gates announced the
licensing of the Director player?

Marc was a strong advocate of OS level support for playback and worked hard
to get the MS deal done. He thought that animation should be an OS level
data type like text, sound and images. Having OS level support in Mac and
Win would ensure that playing director files would just work without having
to install anything and the OS itself could use animation files for help and
the like (extending the "Guided Tour" concept). Player ubiquity would create
demand for authoring tools. Marc's successor thought that system level
support (in essence writing parts of the OS) was too grandiose for such a
small company and relegated the system players to the back burner where they
quietly died.

Before Marc left, his vision for the next generation was a product called
Oaktree. From the outset Director's achilles heal was the frame based score
metaphor. Before we had cue points and time based media like quicktime,
synchronization was a bear. Frame based playback also caused wide
performance differences depending on the hardware used. Oaktree was a time
based meta-score with N tracks. The idea was to have a single sequencer and
stage that could handle any type of media. Rather than a fixed number of
dedicated channels, Oaktree started with blank slate where you created any
number of sound, animation, 3D, video or what have you tracks that could be
modified by launching and editing in external apps. The ill fated Action!
product inherited the codename and the time based metaphor but little else.
I don't know if the real Oaktree ever made past being a prototype.


Q. Director started out as an animation tool, then became a tool for
'scripting animations/presentations'. At some point, the focus switched to
creating 'interactive multimedia applications'. Was this just a natural
evolution of the product, or was there some conscious strategy (such as to
create a programming/authoring environment that would appeal to designers,
animators and other people who didn't come from a traditional programming
background).

Director (then Videoworks) was originally conceived as a game authoring
environment for non programmers, Marc, Mark and Jay[mie] had all worked
together at Bally Games in Chicago. In the spring of 1984 Marc got angel
funding from his father in law to start Macromind. The original title of the
product was "Sound and Vision." When they signed their first publishing deal
with Hayden the decision was taken to split the product into separate
editors. Musicworks was released in 1984 and was the first Mac music
software. It had a graphical score that was similar to the one in
Videoworks, which was released the following year. Marc always had a grand
plan and considered version releases as stepping stones along the path (to
world domination).

In the summer of '85 Jay hacked in a tiny basic - and that's what Erik
Neuman used for the first deliverable to Apple, which shipped with the Mac
Plus, from jan. '86 on. Lingo was born when JT showed up in late 86 or early
87.

Internal versions with rudimentary scripting were used for production work
and seeded to Apple and a short list of developers including Mike Saenz and
Marney Morris. Videoworks Interactive became a (beta) product in late 87.
For a short while MM sold the VWI beta for quite a bit of money.

Marc envisioned a high priced pro authoring tool in addition to a smaller,
simpler and cheaper animation package. John Scull, an executive brought in
by the VCs to provide adult supervision for Marc, had had success at Apple
with DTP and lobbied successfully for a single product with a mid range
price point comparable to Pagemaker. This became Director. In retrospect it
seems like a single product with a full feature set was the right way to go,
the price point is arguable.

Early versions of lingo had a much greater resemblance to natural language
than to code. Every word was parsed in sequence as it executed and the
parser ignored stuff it didn't understand. You could pretty much type
anything into scripts, edit in mid execution and the updates would occur as
you typed them. The cost of this flexibility and error tolerance was speed
and the parser was pretty slow. As the user base has grown more
sophisticated ease of use has been traded off to the demand for higher
performance and greater functionality.

Q. ScriptX was considered (at least by some of us) the potential 'Director
Killer' back in the mid-90s (before it was abandoned by Apple and IBM). It
appeared to be targeting more traditional programmer/techy types than
Director. Did Macromedia consider moving Director further away from its
'user friendly' metaphors and try to make it appeal more to traditional
programmer types - or were you prepared to stick to your guns (and
commanding market share)? Did it have influence on the big 'from the ground
up' rebuild that became Director 7? [on a side note - was there any truth to
the rumours that Macromedia was considering buying ScriptX when Kalieda Labs
floundered? If so, which aspects of ScriptX would have made their way into
Director?]

Kalieda had several Macromind alumni in high places. It probably should have
been called Colida. It would be hard to imagine two corporate cultures more
different than Apple and IBM in the 80's. The goal to build a dedicated
language from the ground was admirable and vaunted as superior to Director's
organic approach, but internally the clash of cultures led to paralysis and
eventually death.

A product that had a much greater impact on director was mTropolis, whose
drag and drop script object behaviors became the inspiration for Directors
behaviors. mTropolis shipped and even had a few titles (Obsidian, Muppet
Treasure Island) but eventually they ran out of cash and were acquired by
Quark and euthanized.

WRT the software rock and roll band, they did what bands do, they broke up.
Mark Pierce was gone within a year. He went on to do Dark Castle on the Mac.
I think he is still working in games. Jay stayed on for almost two years,
cranking out a prolific amount of work, before he was seduced away by Alan
Kay to work on an Apple funded education research project called Vivarium.
Marc's former wife worked on that project as well.

There was a lot of energy in the early days. Marc, despite his peccadilloes,
had the ability to inspire us and instill a sense that what we were doing
was ground breaking work, we were changing the world. The command hierarchy
was pretty flat, we were all in it together.

The office at 410 Townsend was one big room where everyone worked elbow to
elbow on vinyl topped bingo tables laid end to end. I think the space had
been a garment factory before MM. We rode up to the office in a scary
freight elevator that made loud banging noises on the occasions when it
functioned. But despite the oppressive conditions those 40 hours days seemed
to fly by. It was always fun to go to work.

******************************

Sent: February 2, 2005 7:33 AM
From: Mark Castle

Sorry to join the disccussion so late, but I had my head down working on a
different project. I actually tossed the thread since it looked like it was
devolving into a hopeless morass *blushes with embarassment*.

Regardless, Zav told me I should chime in.

Since this is the only thread I still see, I'll agree with Roger in that DJ
was critical in getting the port started and accomplished. He was a one-man
team at several times in the development cycle.

As for the Townsend office, it was in fact a large brick building with
earthquake refittings after the one next door collapsed on some MacUser
reporters during the 89 quake. It wasn't a garment factory initially though,
it was a slaughterhouse. There were these odd openings or slots in the walls
every few feet right at the floor level which I asked about one time. They
were blood gutters.

Nice.

The elevator was safer than the stairwell, and the elevator was manually
operated, so you had to time your release of the "up" and "down" button to
get as close to level with the floor as you could. Assuming it worked that
day.

Roger is correct though, the environment was nasty, long-hours, cramped,
dangerous at times, and completely exhilarating. I think the blood gutters
ran thick with creative juice most days.

******************************

Sent: February 2, 2005 11:33 AM
From: Buzz Kettles

Here's the timeline (as I remember it) for the period I was there

just Director, not the other pplayer releases

D3.1.1 Mac only, includes QT - April 93 (Markie would know better then I - I was still on Authorware)
DPW 3.1.1 (last DPW) shipped in December 93

D4.0 (mac only) shipped in 3/1/1994
D4.01 was the PowerMac update (late April)
D4.02 was F & G was mid June
D4.03 was Win-only (August) [*the first Director Auth to run under Windows *]
D4.04 was the unifying release - all langs - Dec thru Jan 1995 - last floppy release -> 18 floppys

SW4 (* 1st SW release *) -> Window only - Dec 95
SW4 for Mac - Feb 96

D5 Auth both plats - March 96
D5.01 (F/G/J & E + bug fixes) - June 96
SW 5.01 was August 2, 1996 (included SWA audio & linked media)
WAVtoSWA Convert Xtra - Oct 96 - Widows folks could now make SWAs

D6 Auth, incl. SW6 for IE only (using the old player) - early June 97
also SW6 for Netscape (using the new player)
D6.01 Auth - late August 97
SW 6.01 (new player for all browsers + bug fixes) - Nov 97
D6.02 Auth - December 97 - Jan 98
SW updated to include the Flash plug - Jan 98
the stand-aline Xtras (QT, Flash, Cursor, Powerpoint, Java) were being created in parallel & were sold individually thru around May 98
D6.5 - June 98 - all those Xtras were included with the Auth package
& 6.02 got restamped as D6.5 (no actual code changes)
D6.5 win updater - July 98

D7 - Dec 98, including SW7
D7.01 - F/G only, March 99
D7.02 - F/G/J/E - June 99 (coincident with a UCON in SF)
SW 7.02 - early August 99 -included 'The Remote'
SW 7.02 the fix for the remote - early September 99
Shockwave.com spun off to next door - early September 99

D8 - March 2000 (+SW8))
SW8.01 - April (but no # change)

D8.5 - Shockwave 3D release - April 2001 (coincident w/the last official UCON (in NYC))
D8.5.1 - Dec 2001


Autor: TB

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