Suggestions from Ron Gustavson

From rongus@tiac.net Wed Dec 17 02:55:24 1997
From: rongus@tiac.net (Ron Gustavson)
To: lang@cognac.inria.fr (Bernard Lang)
Subject: Re: Multi-platform multimedia CD-ROM ... who makes ? How ?
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 01:52:23 GMT
Message-ID: <3498303f.25596834@mail.tiac.net>
....

This is something that I have been writing about--especially in the area of discs which are integrated with the Web. I still recommend HTML-formatted discs for the greatest compatibility and longest life. I waxed on about it in a column from last March: http://www.onlineinc.com/emedia/MarEM/cdweb3.html

For widest compatibility across computer platforms, Java still seems to be the common denominator, in spite of its multimedia rendering limitations. I had much fun playing around with Aimtech's Jamba authoring tool. This creates an ASCII script that is played by a Java applet. The latest version is now sold by Interleaf at: http://www.jamba.com/

The new browsers' DHTML is making headway with CSS manipulation through JavaScript; JavaScript itself is a powerful language if one has already committed to a Web browser interface. Macromedia's new Dreamweaver is one of the best DHTML-capable HTML tools. They've really gotten this one right (at about $299 introductory price.) There are other DHTML tools now from Astound, mBed, WebberActive, and finally Microsoft.

If ActiveX ever becomes reliable on Unix and Macintosh, then all bets are off, because better multimedia rendering through OpenGL, DirectX, and things like Netshow, would then be available. I think a good strategy is to let Microsoft and Netscape develop the core browser technology, and then apply it to CDs as well as the Web. For a revolutionary ActiveX tool aimed at non-technical artists, take a look at Parable Corp.'s Thingmaker: http://www.thingworld.com/ This also allows artists to embed contact info and a URL into any multimedia objects--turning their Web animations into a floating portfolio or business card. The plus on a societal level is that the general public is not prevented from viewing anything--just from reusing protected works.

I noticed you got a recommendation of Acrobat. (I remember the trouble we had trying to open up PDFs on Unix a while back.) In this area, I would have to add developments from Hummingbird www.commonground.com, and Net-it. Also check out J.Stream www.jstream.com. While the latter is definitely beta, these three products rely on a Java applet to provide an Acrobat-like viewer for portable documents. I've been using the freeware version of Common Ground [to print to files instead of paper] and it's terrific.

For producing Web-connected CDs, there are a few choices. To collect HTML to package on CD, check out MarketScape's WebCD: http://www.marketscape.com/ MarketScape has the most comprehensive system for making Web CDs. While optimized for Windows (ie: bookmarks, TOC, search engine, viewers for MOV, PDF, Shockwave, etc.) , the produced title will at least be accessible to any browser. They also have a service that will produce the title, replicate, ship, etc.

also WebGrabber: http://www.elektroson.com/

For hooking up a traditional Director, Toolbook or C++ title to the Web, LiveCD is a client/server extension that can be customized in C++: http://www.newalloy.com/

WWWebDisk is a server extension that "remembers" the location of the local CD-ROM so the browser can move from local file to Web-based one effortlessly. Also CD-ROM and Web files can be mixed and replaced as needed: http://www.clix.net/

While some may see DVD-Video as the universal interactive disc format, the authoring (compression and multiplexing for VOB format and navigation) is much too complex and expensive for most companies and individuals. I would expect most DVD-ROM titles to be authored with traditional tools for some time, using DVD's greater capacity rather than its video capability. And while the current generation of DVD players couldn't read an HTML-formatted title, I think a future set-top box/DVD player would have to consider local HTML as well as Web-based files. See Enreach's efforts in this area: http://www.enreach.com/

...


Ron Gustavson <rongus@tiac.net> <rongus@compuserve.com> NO-8-DO

With my thanks to the author for allowing me to post this - Bernard Lang