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Multimedia Authoring Paradigms

The authoring paradigm, or authoring metaphor, is the methodology by which the authoring system accomplishes its task.

There are various paradigms, including:

Scripting Language
-- 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. The Apple's HyperTalk for HyperCard, Assymetrix's OpenScript for ToolBook and Lingo scripting language of Macromedia Director are examples of a Multimedia scripting language.

Here is an example lingo script to jump to a frame

global gNavSprite

on exitFrame
  go the frame
  play sprite gNavSprite

Iconic/Flow Control
-- 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 (Fig. 2.1)or IconAuthor, are extremely powerful and suffer least from runtime speed problems.

Macromedia Authorware Iconic/Flow Control Examples

-- 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.

-- 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.

-- 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.

Macromedia Director uses this method and examples can be found in Figs 2.2-- 2.4

Macromedia Director Score Window

Macromedia Director Cast Window

Macromedia Director Script Window

Hierarchical Object
-- 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.

Hypermedia Linkage
-- 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.

-- The Tagging paradigm uses tags in text files (for instance, SGML/HTML, SMIL (Synchronised Media Integration Language), VRML, 3DML and WinHelp) to link pages, provide interactivity and integrate multimedia elements.

next up previous
Next: Multimedia Programming vs Multimedia Up: Multimedia Authoring:Systems and Applications Previous: Why should you use
Dave Marshall