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It's not good news, I'm afraid. This from Jaems (the distributor) (sorry
about the length of hs post):
Hi fellow Director developers,
After a lengthy silence, suddenly four whole pages. I'd better make
I'll start with an Irish joke and end with a Russian joke. Somewhere
in the middle, I'll mention the OSControl Xtra, because that's what
some of you are expecting. But it's just a case in point. My main
concern is how Director is going to grow from here on.
Here's the Irish joke.
Father McKenzie is the new parish priest. He sees old Michael
McGregor working away in his garden, just beside the church, and goes
over to introduce himself. He admires Mr McGregor's fine display of
flowers and his neat rows of vegetables.
"Isn't it just amazing," Father McKenzie says, "what Man can achieve
with God's help?"
Michael McGregor pushes his cap back on his head, leans on his spade
and looks Father McKenzie in the eye.
"Aye," he says. "That it is. Now it's a pity you couldn't have seen
this garden when God had it all to Himself."
Director is now an Adobe product. But more than that, it is now an
Indian product. Apart from Dr Allen Partridge, Dan Sadowski and Rick
Jones, all the members of the current Director team that I am aware of
are based in India.
This has far-reaching consequences for Director.
The Indian attitude to time is quite different from that in the West.
In the West, we are constantly bombarded with advertising, commercials
and marketing hype. Television, magazines, hoardings and the Internet
train us from infancy to expect instant gratification as soon as we
purchase product X. Time, the saying goes, is money. Life is a fast-
The Indian culture is older and deeper. The game we know as Snakes
and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders) originated as an Hindu morality
game representing life, death and re-incarnation. If you do good
deeds in this life, you leave the board momentarily, climb a ladder,
and come back further along your path. If you behave badly, death is
like a snake that leads you back down so that you get another chance
to learn life's lessons. Reaching perfection can take many lifetimes.
A mature river meanders before it reaches the sea. It is unstoppable
but knows no urgency.
Director is now an Indian product. The development team are prepared
to invest many lifecycles to bring it to full maturity. What have
they done for Director 11?
Unicode is huge. Unicode touches every part of the product. Making
Director Unicode-compliant has meant dismantling it and putting it
back together, piece by modified piece. In the process, the new
Director team has cleaned up years' and years' worth of quick fixes
and hastily added features, and brought the core code up to modern
standards. This has taken time. Time that can be measured in man-
lives rather than man-years.
Yet on the surface, next to nothing has changed.
A change of this scale requires courage. Director's current Western
client base expects to be wowed. We have waited so long for something
new. We expected novelty.
The rest of the world has not yet woken up to the fact that Director
is now a powerful tool that will allow them to express their own
identities and cultures. When (or if) they do, the choice of Unicode
will be justified. Speakers of Unicode-free English are now a
minority on the Internet.
But Director is not alone. One of the keys to its success is the
biodiversity of third-party xtras that extend Director's
capabilities. Making Director 11 Unicode-compliant means that non-
Unicode-compliant xtras will no longer work correctly with Director
11. Director's metamorphosis has forced all xtra developers to
metamorphose their own xtras. This is not a trivial task.
Many of the more delicate plants in the xtra ecosystem will not
survive. There are Xtra developers whose focus has changed over the
last few years, and who no longer benefit personally from the xtras
they have created. There are niche xtras where the effort of adding
Unicode compliance outweighs any possible return on investment. For a
small percentage of developers, some of these endangered xtras are
indispensible: without them, Director as a whole loses much of its
Director needs a thriving culture of third-party xtras if it is to
evolve. It takes a great deal of courage to opt for a radical, long-
term approach that disturbs both the existing client base and the
Here's how the change has affected one xtra, the OSControl Xtra, which
I happen to know a little about. This may be a typical case or not.
The OSControl Xtra has a symbiotic relationship with Director. If it
had not been developed, the Director team would long ago have been
forced to create something equivalent. Now that it exists, the
Director team feel obliged to avoid competing directly with it.
In its current incarnation, it is no longer viable. Its developer,
Pim van Bochoven, very rarely uses Director now, and no longer has the
time nor the incentive to rewire the OSControl Xtra to make it
compatible with Director 11.
For the developers who rely on this xtra, I can imagine five possible
1. Pim could make the xtra opensource, and rely on volunteers in the
Director community to maintain it. One main drawback with this
approach would be the lack of a Verisign certificate for a Shockwave-
safe version of the xtra.
2. Another third-party xtra developer could buy the rights to the
OSControl Xtra from Pim, and rewrite it to make it Unicode-compliant.
For this to be a worthwhile investment, there would need to be a
critical mass of sales of the xtra. New sales means a new generation
of users. Will Director 11 generate enough interest in Director to
generate sufficient new sales of the xtra?
3. Adobe could buy the rights to the OSControl Xtra, and upgrade it
themselves for a point-release for Director 11. By doing so, they
would purchase all the tweaks and bug-fixes that ensure that the xtra
works on all Director-10-compatible operating systems. They would not
need to discover all the system-specific gothchas first-hand.
4. Adobe could start over and build their own set of native platform-
dependent controls. It seems easier (in the first instance) to write
code from scratch, but companies like Netscape have learned the hard
way that it can be very costly in the long term.
5. R.I.P. OSControl (Director 6 - Director 10).
I could live with any of these solutions. All that I stand to gain
from any of them is a little more free time.
So the real question is: Which of these solutions is best for Director
and the Director community? Which of these solutions sends out the
I would argue for option 3, with option 2 as an acceptable runner-up.
If a third-party xtra developer were to buy the OSControl Xtra, s/he
would be saying "I am confident enough in Director's new growth to
invest my own money and time".
If Adobe buys the OSControl Xtra and provides it as a Shockwave-safe
xtra in a free point-release for Director 11, they are indicating a
commitment both to Director and to the community of xtra developers.
It's all a question of confidence, and generating that confidence. If
enough existing and new users have confidence in Director, Director's
future is safe.
My understanding is that Adobe currently earns enough income from its
Shockwave payloads to keep Director alive, at least as far as Director
12, even without massive sales of Director 11.
But the payloads will only continue to bring in money if developers
continue to create Shockwave content that will in turn incite end- users
to download the Shockwave plug-in. If the right threshold is
met, this will have a knock-on effect: the more exciting content there
is, the more new users will be attracted to buying licences for
Director, to get in on the act.
So ultimately, the future of Director depends on what you, the
existing developers, create.
Adobe knows this. Adobe has every interest in encouraging you to
create great new stuff. It all adds to their bottom line.
Adobe and its new team have used a logic that we are not used to in
bringing Director 11 to the market at this time, in its current state
and with its current feature set.
How can Adobe give you the confidence to stay faithful and to spread
the word about Director's new incarnation? How can Adobe convince you
to buy the new team time to come up with the product you feel you need
In guise of an answer to that, here's the Russian joke I promised you
at the beginning. (From
< http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~pv/courses/sovrus/jokes.html >)
An anecdote told during the Brezhnev era:
Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev were all travelling together in a
railway carriage, when unexpectedly the train stopped. Stalin put his
head out of the window and shouted, "Shoot the driver!" But the train
didn't start moving. Khrushchev then shouted, "Rehabilitate the
driver!" But it still didn't move. Brezhnev then said, "Comrades,
Comrades, let's draw the curtains, turn on the gramophone and let's
pretend we're moving!"
After Gorbachev came to power another line was added, in which he
"Comrades, let's get out and push."
So in simple words... If I want to migrate to Director 11, I have to abandon the OScontrol xtra. Too bad, becuase I really like it. Is there perhaps a similar solution out there?