MAX 2005: Using Flash and Director Together to Produce Rich Applications (9am, 18 October)

The last of the three MAX Director sessions I attended (aka the only MAX Director sessions) was the only one scheduled for repeat sessions.

Mark Jonkman’s been a regular speaker at Macromedia conferences for several years, where he’s usually spoken on Flash/Director interoperability, and MAX 2005 was no exception. He’s also contributed a couple of articles to the Director DevNet site.

Mark mentioned that there was still no public release date on the Flash 8 beta.

Much of the introductory material seemed to be aimed at Flash developers unfamiliar with Director (most of the Director developers I know have at least a passing knowledge of Flash, and some have a lot of experience with the program). Flash files are generally small; Director is more extensible. Flash uses vectors, a scripting language, nested movie clips, XML, a media server, FLV video. Director uses a wide range of media types, has two scripting languages, movies in a window, and Xtras.

Mark then showed some samples of Flash inside Director:

  • Flash as interface components in Director,
  • Director as a Flash application shell,
  • Flash as an integral component of Director.

To use Flash with Director, it’s essential to understand how the two application can communicate. In Marks’s view, simply modifying a Flash movie clip property is not real communication. True communication needs to be bi-directional. He then went through the evolution of communication between Flash sprites and Director applications over the eight years that Director has supported Flash cast members, then mentioned the ability to exchange image data planned for the Flash 8 Xtra.

Mark mentioned that the Lingo setCallback method used to notify Lingo that an event has occurred during ActionScript execution affects the prototype of a Flash object not simply the object instance.

The AS getURL method is the only way to pass messages out of Flash sprites. My notes mention he said Lingo’s getVariable method was not so useful.

Next, talking about the convert method, Mark mentioned it sends bitmaps to and from Flash 8’s BitmapImages object. He demonstrated some tests he’d done with the beta that showed convert was actually faster copying an image from Flash to Director (and vice versa) than simply duplicating the image with copypixels.

The Flash 8 Xtra should also be able to make use of the new abilities to upload files.

And finally, Mark experienced a crash showing his last example, of real-time imaging of a Flash sprite.