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Subject: Multimedia Authoring Systems FAQ 1/3

This article was archived around: Mon, 05 Apr 1999 00:54:15 -0400

All FAQs in Directory: multimedia/authoring-systems
All FAQs posted in: comp.multimedia
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Archive-name: multimedia/authoring-systems/part1 Posting-Frequency: monthly (first Sunday) Expires: 1999/05/02 Version: 2.23 URL: http://www.tiac.net/users/jasiglar/MMASFAQ.HTML http://www.tiac.net/users/jasiglar/MMASFAQ.TXT
There is a Polish version of this FAQ at <http://mmc.amg.net.pl/Tech/Authoring/faq.html> -- translated and maintained by Pawel Olszewski at Multimedia Club <http://mmc.amg.net.pl/index.html> . 1. What is an Authoring System? 2. Why would anyone want to use an authoring system? 3. What is an authoring paradigm? 4. What is the Scripting paradigm? 5. What is the Iconic/Flow Control paradigm? 6. What is the Frame paradigm? 7. What is the Card/Scripting paradigm? 8. What is the Cast/Score/Scripting paradigm? 9. What is the Hierarchical Object paradigm? 10. What is the Hypermedia Linkage paradigm? 11. What is the Tagging paradigm? 12. What is an Authoring Suite? 13. Can I develop all of my material in the authoring system? 14. What is the best authoring system? 15. Given that my subject matter is <> , my delivery platform is <> , and my design specifies <> , which authoring system should I use? 16. What are the names of some authoring systems? 17. What print magazines deal with authoring systems? 18. What books deal with authoring systems? 19. What software titles deal with authoring systems? 20. What USENET newsgroups deal with authoring systems? 21. What Independent WebSites deal with authoring systems? 1. What is an Authoring System? An Authoring System is a program which has pre-programmed elements for the development of interactive multimedia software titles. Authoring systems vary widely in orientation, capabilities, and learning curve. There is no such thing(at this time) as a completely point-and-click automated authoring system; some knowledge of heuristic thinking and algorithm design is necessary. Whether you realize it or not, authoring is actually just a speeded-up form of programming; you don't need to know the intricacies of a programming language, or worse, an API, but you do need to understand how programs work. 2. Why would anyone want to use an authoring system? It generally takes about 1/8th the time to develop an interactive multimedia project, such as a CBT program, in an authoring system as opposed to programming it in compiled code. This means 1/8 the cost of programmer time and likely increased re-use of code (assuming that you pass this project's code to the next CBT project, and they use a similar or identical authoring system). However, the content creation (graphics, text, video, audio, animation, etc.) is not generally affected by the choice of an authoring system; any production time gains here result from accelerated prototyping, not from the choice of an authoring system over a compiled language. 3. What is an authoring paradigm? Also known as the authoring metaphor, this is the methodology by which the authoring system accomplishes its task. There are various paradigms, including: Scripting Language Iconic/Flow Control Frame Card/Scripting Cast/Score/Scripting Hierarchical Object Hypermedia Linkage Tagging 4. What is the Scripting paradigm? The Scripting paradigm is the authoring method closest in form to traditional programming. The paradigm is that of a programming language, which specifies (by filename) multimedia elements, sequencing, hotspots, synchronization, etc. A powerful, object-oriented scripting language is usually the centerpiece of such a system; in-program editing of elements (still graphics, video, audio, etc.) tends to be minimal or non-existent. Scripting languages do vary; check out how much the language is object-based or object-oriented. The scripting paradigm tends to be longer in development time (it takes longer to code an individual interaction), but generally more powerful interactivity is possible. Since most Scripting languages are interpreted, instead of compiled, the runtime speed gains over other authoring methods are minimal. The media handling can vary widely; check out your system with your contributing package formats carefully. 5. What is the Iconic/Flow Control paradigm? This tends to be the speediest (in development time) authoring style; it is best suited for rapid prototyping and short-development time projects. Many of these tools are also optimized for developing Computer-Based Training (CBT). The core of the paradigm is the Icon Palette, containing the possible functions/interactions of a program, and the Flow Line, which shows the actual links between the icons. These programs tend to be the slowest runtimes, because each interaction carries with it all of its possible permutations; the higher end packages, such as Authorware or IconAuthor, are extremely powerful and suffer least from runtime speed problems. 6. What is the Frame paradigm? The Frame paradigm is similar to the Iconic/Flow Control paradigm in that it usually incorporates an icon palette; however, the links drawn between icons are conceptual and do not always represent the actual flow of the program. This is a very fast development system, but requires a good auto-debugging function, as it is visually un-debuggable. The best of these have bundled compiled-language scripting, such as Quest (whose scripting language is C) or Apple Media Kit. 7. What is the Card/Scripting paradigm? The Card/Scripting paradigm provides a great deal of power (via the incorporated scripting language) but suffers from the index-card structure. It is excellently suited for Hypertext applications, and supremely suited for navigation intensive (a la Cyan's "MYST" game) applications. Such programs are easily extensible via XCMDs and DLLs; they are widely used for shareware applications. The best applications allow all objects (including individual graphic elements) to be scripted; many entertainment applications are prototyped in a card/scripting system prior to compiled-language coding. 8. What is the Cast/Score/Scripting paradigm? The Cast/Score/Scripting paradigm uses a music score as its primary authoring metaphor; the synchronous elements are shown in various horizontal "tracks" with simultaneity shown via the vertical columns. The true power of this metaphor lies in the ability to script the behavior of each of the cast members. The most popular member of this paradigm is Director, which is used in the creation of many commercial applications. These programs are best suited for animation-intensive or synchronized media applications; they are easily extensible to handle other functions (such as hypertext) via XOBJs, XCMDs, and DLLs. 9. What is the Hierarchical Object paradigm? The Hierarchical Object paradigm uses a object metaphor (like OOP) which is visually represented by embedded objects and iconic properties. Although the learning curve is non-trivial, the visual representation of objects can make very complicated constructions possible. 10. What is the Hypermedia Linkage paradigm? The Hypermedia Linkage paradigm is similar to the Frame paradigm in that it shows conceptual links between elements; however, it lacks the Frame paradigm's visual linkage metaphor. 11. What is the Tagging paradigm? The Tagging paradigm uses tags in text files (for instance, SGML/HTML, VRML, 3DML <http://www.flatland.com/> and WinHelp) to link pages, provide interactivity and integrate multimedia elements. 12. What is an Authoring Suite? Currently, an authoring suite is a single program that combines multiple authoring and tracking views, as well as pre-authoring, instructional design, and project management functions. The current offerings in this type of tool are optimized for CBT production, and include BGW Multimédia's Tactic! <http://www.bgw.ca/english/survol-e.html> or Allen Communications' Manager's Edge <http://www.allencomm.com/software/manager/> . 13. Can I develop all of my material in the authoring system? Yes, but you probably shouldn't. Although most packages allow you to create content using their in-built tools, these tend to be rudimentary when compared with those available in dedicated programs. For more professional output, you should use software dedicated to the creation and editing of that medium, and then import/integrate the content into your multimedia program. Major content-development packages are likely to include: Paint programs for still images (photos, original digital artwork) Paint effects programs Illustration (draw) programs for still images (modeled and rendered objects) Modeling/Rendering programs (for 3-D objects) Video digitizing/editing programs Video effects programs Audio sampling/editing programs Word processors Text Editors Database programs Animation programs Asset-management programs Pre-Authoring programs; to date, there's only one,Allen Communications' Designer's Edge <http://www.allencomm.com/software/designer/> . Computer Managed Instruction (CMI) programs</b> ; it is recommended that you choose an AICC-compliant program. <http://www.aicc.org/> 14. What is the best authoring system? This is the most impossible question you could ask. It's like asking what's the best hammer -- it depends upon the job you're trying to do, and sometimes (like when you're working on plumbing), there is no answer. Qualify your question, and there'll be a prayer of answering it. 15. Given that my subject matter is <> , my delivery platform is <> , and my design specifies <> , which authoring system should I use? This is a question an authoring specialist can answer (just as soon as you fill in the blanks, and add any other qualifying data). 16. What are the names of some authoring systems? Players require authoring on a "full" platform, then a port to the player platform. DOS Authoring Systems: GLpro <http://gmedia.net/glpro/dosspec.html> : G-media <http://gmedia.net/glpro/index.html> ; DOS, Windows GLpro is a scripting paradigm authoring system. Microcosm <http://www.multicosm.com/microcosm/index.html> : Multicosm, Ltd. <http://www.webcosm.com/> ; DOS, Windows Microcosm is a Hypermedia Linkage authoring system. Neobook <http://www.neosoftware.com/nb.html> : Neosoft <http://www.neosoftware.com/> ; DOS, Windows 95, NT Neobook is a frame paradigm authoring tool currently in version 2.1. Question Mark <http://www.questionmark.com/infosheets/dos-info.htm> : Question Mark Computing Ltd <http://www.questionmark.com/> ; DOS, Mac, Windows, WWW (via Perception) Question Mark is optimized for Electronic Assessment production. Summit Authoring System <http://www.insystem.com/summit.htm> : Intersystem Concepts, Inc. <http://www.insystem.com/> TenCORE <http://www.tencore.com/authtool.htm> : Computer Teaching Corporation <http://www.tencore.com/> ; DOS, Windows TenCORE is actually two products: TenCORE Producer, which is a frame paradigm authoring system, and TenCORE Language Authoring System, which is a scripting paradigm authoring system. TenCORE LAS has discernable Plato roots. Macintosh Authoring Systems: ClickWorks <http://www.pitango.com/mn-cw.html> : Pitango <http://www.pitango.com/> ; Mac, Windows player Clickworks is a card/scripting system that has a high amount of object-orientation. There are now two versions: Delight and Pro. The Pro version provides the most complete handling of text available, comparable to a desktop-publishing tool. CourseBuilder <http://www.discoverysystems.com/Pages/CB-Soft.HTML> : Discovery Systems Int'l. <http://www.discoverysystems.com/> ; Mac, Windows Player CourseBuilder 5.0 is an iconic/flow control paradigm authoring system optimized for CBT delivery. Allows scriptless interactive courseware construction. Digital Box Office <http://www.powerproduction.com/dbo/dbo.html> : PowerProduction Software <http://www.powerproduction.com/> Digital Box Office 1.5 is a frame paradigm authoring system. Director <http://www.macromedia.com/software/director/> : Macromedia <http://www.macromedia.com/> ; Mac, Windows95/98, NT, WWW (via Shockwave) Currently in version 7.0, this popular general market product follows the cast/score/scripting paradigm, which makes it the tool of choice for animation content. Its roots as a cel- and sprite-animation program are unmistakable; its inclusion of Lingo, its object-based scripting language, has made it the animation-capable program to beat. The AfterBurner compression Xtra creates Shockwave files, allowing Web playback. Emblaze Creator <http://www.emblaze.com/creator.htm> : Geo International <http://www.emblaze.com/> ; JavaScript, Mac, Win95, WWW Emblaze Creator 2.5 is a cast/score/scripting tool which is designed for Web-based playback of interactive multimedia. Flash <http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/> : Macromedia <http://www.macromedia.com/> ; Mac, Windows95, NT, WWW (via Flash Player) Flash 3.0 is a cast/score/scripting tool, which primarily uses vector graphics (and can create vector graphics from imported bitmaps). It is optimized for Web delivery, and is especially common for banner adds and small interactive web deliverables. HyperCard <http://www.apple.com/hypercard/> : Apple Computer <http://www.apple.com/> ; Mac, WWW (via LiveCard!) HyperCard is a card/scripting authoring system currently in version 2.4.1. It runs natively on both 68K and PowerMacintosh machines, and is widely used because of its easy availability at $99. Its largest drawback is the lack of integrated color; current color implementation is via the ColorTools XCMD set (included) or via third-party XCMDs. HyperGASP <http://www.calibanmw.com/hg30.html> : Caliban Mindwear <http://www.calibanmw.com/> HyperGASP is a card/scripting authoring system currently in version 3.0; the newest version no longer requires HyperCard. Supports export to HTML for Web authoring. HyperStudio <http://www.hyperstudio.com/> : Roger Wagner Publishing <http://www.hyperstudio.com/> ; Mac, Windows HyperStudio is a card/scripting paradigm authoring system, optimized for and focussed on the educational market. iShell <http://www.tribeworks.com/Public/Content/Technology.html> : Tribeworks <http://www.tribeworks.com/> ; PowerMac, Windows 95/98 iShell is a frame tool, derived in largest part from Apple Media Tool. It's most prominent feature is unparalleled interactive QuickTime support. IShell is freeware, with licensing available for commercial applications. Katabounga <http://www.abvent.com/intl/katabounga.html> : Abvent <http://www.abvent.com/> ; PowerMac, Mac Player, Windows95/98 Player Katabounga is a Hierarchical Object authoring system, currently in version 2.0. Lexicographer <http://www.abiogenesis.com/AbioDocs/Products.html> : Abiogenesis Software<http://www.abiogenesis.com/> Lexicographer uses the Tagging paradigm to produce viewable electronic references from text or RTF files. mBed Interactor <http://www.mbed.com/html/mbdframe1.html> : mBed <http://www.mbed.com/> ; Java, Mac, Windows95, WWW mBed Interactor is a cast/score/scripting authoring system optimized for WWW delivery; it comes in Lite, Standard and Professional Editions. MediaStorm <http://www.incwell.com/SuperCard/MediaStormBasic.html> : IncWell <http://www.incwell.com/> MediaStorm is a frame authoring system. MetaCard <http://www.metacard.com/pi.html> : MetaCard <http://www.metacard.com/> ; Mac, Windows95/98, NT, Solaris, UNIX MetaCard is a card/scripting authoring system, currently in version 2.2. This is one of the more powerful tools of its paradigm; the scripting language is especially robust. MocKingbird(R)CBT <http://www.mockingbird.com/products/cbt/index.htm> : Warren-Forthought, Inc. <http://www.mockingbird.com/> ; Mac, Windows, NT MocKingbird is a Performance Support System following the scripting paradigm. QuarkImmedia <http://www.quark.com/quarkimmedia/> : Quark <http://www.quark.com/> ; PowerMac, Windows Player QuarkImmedia is a frame paradigm authoring system, designed for re-purposing print (QuarkXPress) documents. Question Mark <http://www.questionmark.com/infosheets/mac-info.htm> : Question Mark Computing Ltd <http://www.qmark.com/> ; DOS, Mac, Windows, WWW (via Perception) Question Mark is optimized for Electronic Assessment production. Special Delivery <http://www.imcinfo.com/SD2.0DataSheet.html> : IMC <http://www.imcinfo.com/index.html> Special Delivery 2.1 is a frame paradigm authoring system. StorySpace <http://www.eastgate.com/Storyspace.html> : Eastgate Systems <http://www.eastgate.com/> ; Mac, Windows, WWW (via HTML) Hypertext authoring system, uses "Writing Space" links, corresponds pretty closely to the frame paradigm. The newest version supports export of a complete story space to HTML. SuperCard <http://www.incwell.com/SuperCard/SuperCard.html> : IncWell <http://www.incwell.com/> ; Mac, WWW (Mac and Win32 via Roadster) SuperCard 3.5 shines among the card/scripting authoring systems. With built-in support for 24-bit color, hypertext, and external media handling (QuickTime, PICS, Filmstip, PICT, AIFF), this is the best of its paradigm. This is an excellent tool for hypermedia implementation. NeXT Authoring Systems: HyperSense <http://www.thoughtful.com/hypersense/index.html> : Thoughtful Software HyperSense is a card/scripting authoring system, which allows import of HyperCard stacks. OS/2 Authoring Systems: Creative Course Writer <http://www.caicbt.com/ccwos2.html> : Creative Approaches, Inc. <http://www.caicbt.com/> Solaris Authoring Systems: Digital Chisel <http://www2.pierian.com/products/authoring_tools/digital_chisel3/dc3.htm> : Pierian Spring <http://www.pierian.com/> ; Windows95/98, NT, Solaris, WWW Digital Chisel has been rewritten in Java for delivery to most platforms. It has moved from its card roots to a frame paradigm. Gain Momentum <http://www.gainsoft.com/gm/> : Gain Software, Inc. <http://www.gainsoft.com/> ; Windows 95, NT, Solaris, UNIX Gain Momentum 3.5 is a hypermedia linkage authoring tool. Its GEL scripting language and multiple views (including timeline and an object browser) provide a large amount of development power. IconAuthor <http://www.asymetrix.com/products/iconauthor/> : Asymetrix <http://www.asymetrix.com/> ; Windows, NT, Solaris, UNIX, WWW (via Windows) IconAuthor follows the iconic/flow control paradigm. It is notable for its SmartObject editor, which tags content files (still graphics, RTF text, etc.) for interactivity. It has the option to either embed content files or leave them external in specified directories. The biggest strength of this program is its included data handling, which makes it unparalleled for CBT data tracking. The latest version should also provide WWW porting of existing content. Avoid its internal "Move Object" path animation feature due to jerky response -- use a .FLC or .AVI instead. MetaCard <http://www.metacard.com/pi.html> : MetaCard <http://www.metacard.com/> ; Mac, Windows95/98, NT, Solaris, UNIX MetaCard is a card/scripting authoring system, currently in version 2.2. This is one of the more powerful tools of its paradigm; the scripting language is especially robust. End part 1 of 3 <<-- Multimedia Consulting and Authoring - ->> <<-- http://www.tiac.net/users/jasiglar/ -->> <<-- Multimedia Authoring Systems FAQ maintained at: -->> <<-- http://www.tiac.net/users/jasiglar/MMASFAQ.HTML -->>