macromedia text rendering woes

There are interesting parallel discussions happening on a couple of mailing lists I subscribe to. On both Aware and Flashcoders folks are pointing out the shortcomings of the text rendering engines in the respective products. There is no question that Flash is miles ahead of Authorware in this respect and the main complaint with Flash is the lack of right-to-left (RTL) support. While 8-ball (the version of flash currently in development) will include a new Saffron based text rendering engine (source: one, two, three, four, five, six) it would appear that RTL will still not be supported. David Mendels, who manages the Flash product groups, mentioned that the main obstacles are getting it right (apparently it’s a big challenge and therefore risky) as well as the filesize it would add to the player.

Authorware complaints are a bit less “focused” in that there isn’t one single feature everyone wants to see supported. Honestly speaking the text handling in Authorware is quite antiquated and probably in need of a complete overhaul. Even some of the (considered) basic stuff such as dynamic formatting isn’t possible. In the light of all this, the Authorware solution sounds simple – how’s about “dropping” Saffron into Authorware 8. Hell, I’d settle for the Flash MX’04 engine using the better the devil you know argument. I make it sound trivial which it most definitely is not, but if something’s going to be done then what I suggest may have advantages.

Anyhow, all this to make the suggestion that perhaps Macromedia has some cross product shortcomings?

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