Most Read This Week
Flex Top Links You Must Click On !
Haven't We Met Before? Macromedia and Adobe Have Been Dating For Six Years
Adobe, Macromedia united long ago in digital publishing
By: Kristen Banham
Dec. 25, 2005 01:00 PM
This year Adobe Systems acquired Macromedia in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion. What many do not realize is that these companies have been successfully "dating" in the digital publishing world for six years.
In 1999, Integration New Media Inc. (INM), based in Montreal, Canada envisaged cost-effective, smart, immersive applications that would make for a greatly improved experience for developers and end-users alike. Why not combine the strengths of Adobe and Macromedia to create the best possible user experience for those working in digital publishing?
It was a match made in heaven. Adobe's PDF file format offered many advantages. A worldwide standard, PDF was universal and easy-to-use; it provided high-quality printing and display, cross-platform capabilities and cost-effective production.
Macromedia's Director software offered an established and cost-effective multimedia development platform, full control over user interfaces, advanced multimedia and scripting capabilities.
INM saw a natural link between the two products and thus created a bridge "PDF Xtra" that combined them. This Xtra, which has since evolved into the much more powerful INM Impressario Xtra, enabled PDF users to use Director as a container for their content. They could create a highly usable interface, selectively exposing users only to the functionality they needed. By developing a project with Director, the user interface enabled the delivery of highly intuitive applications and publications for E-Learning, E-Marketing or for any project wherein users must become engaged in the "blink of an eye" - quickly, easily and without a user manual.
Director developers benefited by seamlessly integrating PDF documents into their multimedia publications for a blended look and feel. There was no need to recreate documents, as existing datasheets, drawings, and any other item that could be saved as a PDF could easily be integrated from a variety of sources. PDFs allowed for timeliness as well - content providers could incorporate up-to-date, last-minute content by simply changing the PDF file. No complicated programming or reformatting was required - PDF documents could be changed and replaced without affecting the Director movie itself. Another advantage was PDF technology's ability to preserve advanced page layouts, including inline graphics, text wrapping, multiple columns, stylized fonts, special characters, etc. All of this content could be displayed and printed exactly as is, consistently, across all platforms and systems, which was previously impossible through Director alone. Among other features, PDF documents could be searched within Director movies; content could be password-protected as well as personalized, enabling the use of forms, and more.
All of this led to an improved user experience. Period. And that was INM's vision, now realized in a plethora of content-rich applications. For example, Sony UK recently commissioned developers at Blueburst Ltd. to develop an interactive marketing resource toolkit that would provide all the vital marketing materials required by resellers and distributors to sell the Sony Storage Media product line.
This Toolkit CD enabled resellers and distributors to easily access product-related image and text galleries, and customize/co-brand Sony marketing collateral such as advertisements, direct mail pieces and e-shots, using their own contact information and logos. The material could then be used in catalogs, websites and marketing campaigns, making it easier for resellers and distributors to sell Sony Storage Media. In addition, because they were working with official Sony artwork, the branding of the product line remained consistent and Sony was able to maintain greater control over the product line's image.
Blueburst Ltd. used INM Impressario to display and print several guideline documents pertaining to Sony's logo and campaign text usage, as well as allow for customization of the print-ready artwork (PDFs) of advertisements and direct mail pieces provided on the CD. "The image-replace function proved invaluable to this project as it allowed end-users to easily customize the print-ready material with their own information," says Ben Francis, Managing Director of Blueburst Ltd. "Without the combined functionality of PDF and Director, programming such a feature would have been much more difficult."
McGraw Hill's COSMOS, the Complete Online Solutions Manual Organization System, by Hunt and Gather Inc., is another example of how the merging of PDF and Director benefits digital publishers. COSMOS is an assignment assembly product designed for college professors. This product supplies problems and solutions (in PDF format) which professors can use to assemble and print assignments, as well as enables professors to add their own customized equations. The COSMOS engine easily displays and prints the numerous PDF files from within the Director interface.
When it comes to applications that require an integration of PDF files into a Director interface, a CD-ROM developed by Sony DADC for optical manufacturer Swarovski is a perfect example. Over the last five years, the world of bird watching has been enriched by a new concept called digiscoping - photography taken with a compact digital camera located in the eyepiece of an observation telescope. By combining these two technologies, photos can be captured at a higher magnification level. In order to help potential customers understand this new technology, Sony DADC created a CD-ROM that provides technical terminology, tips for using digiscoping in the field, and other educational data. Sony DADC used INM Impressario to develop a customized navigation toolbar that allows users to easily save, print, zoom in or out of specific areas of the CD-ROM's PDF documents, and move seamlessly between pages.
Or, how about traveling to Tahiti without leaving your office or living room? The Tahiti Travel Guide, developed for Tahiti Tourism by Marc Bolard of GlopGlop Productions, is a collection of useful information for those planning a stay in French Polynesia. The CD-ROM includes maps and information for all the islands, a detailed diving guide, pictures, event calendar, among other features.
The guide is distributed as a cross-platform CD-ROM and is used by tourism professionals worldwide. With the CD, travel agents can quickly look-up information on Tahiti in five different languages. They can perform keyword searches, print documents, save information to their hard drives, and add bookmarks. They are also able to add comments and notes for future reference. Again, this is made possible by the seamless integration of PDFs into the CD-ROM interface.
Developers of content-rich applications like E-Magazines also benefit from the PDF/Director synergy. Take the Military and Aerospace E-Magazine for example. It was created to provide new and existing customers of Xilinx Inc. with an interactive means of viewing their solutions. Meant to captivate the attention of the user while delivering an abundance of content, the 75-page electronic magazine showcases a complete range of Xilinx offerings. Readers can browse through the publication using a page-turning effect; there is also an index that contains thumbnails of each page so that with a click of a mouse, readers can jump straight to the article that interests them. A documentation page includes hyperlinks to over 50 additional product datasheets (PDFs) and web pages. Users are also able to print out the articles and datasheets, which are saved as PDF documents, straight from the application. Again, developers used INM Impressario to import and control the PDF content all the while continuing to design the E-Magazine in Director.
On a larger scale, Sophonie - a private French company specializing in digital document management systems - approached INM's Consulting Services to adapt their INM Impressario technology to allow the company to easily package thousands of digital documents (PDFs) into customized and searchable virtual libraries. Sophonie's systems are designed to handle large volumes of historic documents and rare books that would otherwise not be accessible in their original printed versions (some documents are over 200 years old and date back to the French revolution!).
INM set out to develop a toolkit that would allow Sophonie to easily produce their libraries without any programming and deliver them on CD/DVD-ROM. In turn, Sophonie's clients would be able to sell these libraries and have more control over distribution. As primary end-users of such virtual libraries are researchers and professors seeking articles, each virtual library needed to be able to perform advanced searches in a user-friendly manner and to display and print facsimiles of the required documents.
The result was the Boulix Virtual Library Builder that created customizable virtual, multilingual libraries containing (on average) 60,000-70,000 pages of text and indices. The Library Builder allows Sophonie to easily update content (including Flash movies, graphics, buttons, color schemes, etc.) without any programming whatsoever. And, by delivering on CD/DVD-ROM or through server licensing, Sophonie's clients can control distribution and access to their libraries.
"This is exactly the ease-of-use we envisioned six years ago for companies developing and using multimedia applications such as these libraries, and the digital publications listed above," says INM president Vahe Kassardjian. "Today, it is not enough to have only stable, fast software applications. Users expect software to be intuitive and cost-effective - they expect an interface that guides them through the application, smoothly and seamlessly. That is what we are striving for."
As evidenced by their long-time and successful "courtship" in the world of digital publishing software, the future certainly bodes well for Adobe and Macromedia as well as for the users of their products-to-be.
Sony Marketing Toolkit Project provided by Blueburst Ltd. (www.blueburst.com).
Reader Feedback: Page 1 of 1
Featured White Papers
Latest Flex Stories & Posts
Subscribe to the World's Most Powerful Newsletters
Developer Links You Must Click On !