January 1998

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Lingo for Director (Mac version), Macromedia Press in association with Peachpit Press

Lingo is Director's built-in scripting language - it adds interactivity to your multimedia presentations. "Lingo for Director" is Macromedia's Official Training guide. It consists of a book and a CD - together they describe the basics of Lingo through an interactive tutorial. The CD includes a training version of Director 5.0 software - only the save function is disabled. It also includes demos of other Macromedia software. The tutorial covers both Mac OS (7.1 or later) and Windows OS (3.1 or 95).

Overall the tutorial does an excellent job of illustrating the power of Lingo without overwhelming you. It introduces Lingo scripting commands and syntax step-by-step within the framework of projects. The tutorial itself is a Director movie - a tribute to the power and usefulness of Lingo scripting. The text is concise, easy to follow and well written. The CD contains solutions for each lesson. This tutorial demonstrates some of the intricacies of Lingo that can make it daunting to learn. While you don't need to know Lingo to make presentations with Director - the real power of Director is in the ability to customize your presentations with Lingo scripting. This tutorial provides a basis to get started in Lingo programming.

The tutorial consists of animated lessons and projects that you develop. You should have a basic knowledge of Director terminology to follow the lessons, but you can get by if you closely watch the animation. The tutorial provides feedback on your progress within the lessons. Each lesson starts with an overview and concludes with a synopsis. Help for the tutorial is just a button click away; however, you won't really need it since the tutorial controls are modeled after VCR controls (forward, reverse, stop, etc.).

The tutorial leads you through writing Lingo code and development of three simple Director projects. The first project shows how to script interaction into a Director presentation - you link different parts of a movie with one another through animated buttons. In the second project, you develop the rudiments of a PacMan type of game - you learn how to make a little PacPerson gobble up dots. A third project demonstrates how to integrate interactive Shockwave animation into web pages.

One minor bug is present in the first tutorial. However, an examination of the solutions provided for each lesson on the CD reveals the answer. My only other gripe is that you can't explore the Shockwave animation capabilities more fully, unless you have the complete version of Director. You need to save the animation to test it with a web browser, and this tutorial version of Director is save-disabled.

Reviewed by Alice L.


Illustrator 7 for Macintosh & Windows, by Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas, Peachpit Press, $19.95

Like all the other books is Peachpit's Visual QuickStart series, Illustrator 7 delivers what it promises: an easy visual approach to learning a complex application. Relying heavily on step-by-step instructions, the authors manage to make you comfortable with even the most esoteric of Illustrator's functions and commands. Lots of screen shots, tips, and examples make this book an excellent and effective training instrument, especially for those who have no experience with a PostScript drawing program.


Web Design Templates Sourcebook, by Lisa Schmeiser, New Riders, $39.99 with CD-ROM

Forget the great introduction to this book with all sorts of helpful information about creating Web pages. Flip it over, thumb through the clearly tabbed pages until you find the kind of Web page design you're trying to create, and open the template for that page from the CD-ROM in PageMill or any other HTML authoring program. It's that easy. Once you're in the page, substitute your text and graphics for those in the template and take a coffee break. If you're familiar with HTML,you can edit the design, but with hundreds of templates to choose from, you may never have to learn what a tag is. Templates are included for text-heavy materials, frequently updated contents, corporate /promotional Web sites, forms, directories and many more designs. Using this book is like having a Web page design team in your office and you don't even have to provide health benefits!

Teach Yourself Illustrator 7 in 24 Hours, by Mordy Golding. Hayden Books, $19.99.

What's nice about this book is that it assumes that you don't know how to draw, so many of the 24 lessons use easily drawn objects to illustrate the lesson that you can copy to practice the techniques. The organization of the book into specific lessons provides an excellent introduction to this complex program, and although you won't come out of the "class" a master illustrator, you will have a good working knowledge of the tools and techniques needed to create PostScript artwork as well as artwork for the Web. The author strikes a good balance between giving you enough background information so you know what you're doing and providing hands-on instruction. Lots of screen shots and illustrations make this an excellent book for novice Illustrator users.