adobe has abandoned authorware users

There, I’ve said it.

IE7 shipped yesterday and among the many changes is one that has caused Authoware Web Player calls to JavaScript in the embedding HTML to fail. (The bug ticket in Microsoft Connect was here). This is a significant issue as e-learning content delivered in the Authorware Web Player is commonly accessed through SCORM Learning Management Systems (LMS), and SCORM requires that content communicate across a JavaScript API.

There does seem to be a workaround which involves loading the page that embeds the Authorware content as either a frame or iframe element. While tests indicate this is a successful workaround, it is a disconcerting one as I haven’t been able to track down why it works. Depending upon various LMS environments it can also be a difficult, or at the very least, time consuming workaround to implement.

This has been a known issue since the early IE7 beta releases and was reported to both Microsoft and Adobe. After a last ditch campaign by members of the AWARE list and some persistent questioning during the October IE7 Expert’s Chat the significance of the problem was brought to the IE7 team’s attention. As I both suspected and feared, Microsoft seemed to indicate that this was a problem that would need to be resolved by the Authorware Web Player.

Where was Adobe through all of this? Good question. As I mentioned, the bug was communicated through official channels sometime ago (May 2006 to be exact) and was also discussed on mailing lists and in forums (on at least one of those lists members have an expectation of monitoring and participation from Adobe representatives). All has resulted in deafening silence.

As things currently stand I have lost confidence in Adobe’s commitment to the Authorware community. Authorware developers, like developers everywhere, are a resourceful and independent lot and have grown used to “fending for themselves” (perhaps more so that other developers) but now Adobe needs to stand up and support them.

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authorware magnifier command

I was updating an Authorware project recently and became frustrated by the inability to zoom in on areas of the presentation window. After struggling to find a comfortable work flow with a couple of the various magnifier applications for windows I remembered an experimental Authorware command that I’d built some time ago. Upon digging it out and making a small update to make it a bit more useable I can report that it seems to meet the need adequately.

authorware magnifier command

I’ve posted the magnifier command for Authorware here for download. It supports Authorware 7.01+ , integrates into the IDE somewhat like a palette and has a couple of handy features:
- Double click the palette’s titlebar area to toggle magnification on/off.
-When the ‘Tools’ palette is available double click the ‘Magnify’ palette’s display region to dock next to the ‘Tools’ palette.

To install extract the zip to the Authorware Commands directory. Launch the command from the Authorware Commands menu.

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past glories

Among the numerous Flash anniversary posts of the past few days I especially enjoyed reading John Dowdell’s reminiscence on the first 10 years of Flash.

One of the anecdotes he shares described Flex as the fulfillment of a quest for an authoring environment that uses XML to natively describe multimedia “experiences” and once again reminded me of what I’m starting to think of as “Authorware’s past glories”. When Authorware 7 was released in 2003 it included functionality that allows one to export (and import) an XML description of Authorware files. (Sadly, it remains just too incomplete to fulfill it’s true potential). Nevertheless, while JD does a good job of connecting the XML dots to Flex it bears noting that Authorware was also a dot on that path.

Authorware, a dot in so many ways.

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adobe elearning products get an faq too

Looks like Captivate and Authorware have joined Director in getting a ‘commitment FAQ” from Adobe:
http://www.adobe.com/resources/elearning/products/special/crossproduct/faq.html

According to the FAQ, Captivate 2.0 is currently undergoing beta testing (again?) and an Authorware update (presumably the long awaited Authorware 8) is slated for an expected release sometime during the second half of 2007.

As someone with an appreciation for irony, I choose this item as my favourite from the document:

Can I participate in the Authorware prerelease program?
Adobe will actively engage the Authorware user community as we continue development.

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free director update will include flash 8 xtra

I can hear the Director users squealing with delight.

Adobe’s Tom Higgins has announced an update to the Shockwave Player and Director IDE that will include a Flash 8 Asset Xtra as well as fix some bugs related to QuickTime7 in the QuickTime Asset Xtra. I was fortunate enough to get a couple of sneak peeks at the Flash Xtra at Max last fall and have to admit that the “convert” functionality looked very cool.

When this update drops next month it will come nearly 6 months after the Flash Player 8 was released. (And Authorware developers will still be waiting). Such a delay really is unfortunate and I think needs to be addressed. I’m not so naive as to think that putting the Asset Xtras together is anywhere near a simple task, however I do feel that too often the various applications are on their seperate development cycles and the Xtra only gets updated based on them. When developing Authorware or Director applications we have the luxury of not having to be concerned with uptake of new Flash Players so why not take advantage of it?

Anyhow, to make that pill alot less bitter for my Director friends Tom mentions that this will be a free update. Hmm, a free Flash Xtra update for Authorware sure would make the wait for the long rumoured Authorware 8 a little less anxious…

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