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Updated Info for Director 7

Lingo in a Nutshell & Director in a Nutshell


This page is an FAQ in regard to Lingo in a Nutshell's and Director in a Nutshell's coverage of Director 7. See also the separate D7 FAQ and the new features in D7 on Macromedia's site. Watch this space for future updates to LIAN that address D7.

Executive Summary: Lingo in a Nutshell (LIAN) covers up through D6.5. Director in a Nutshell (DIAN) covers up through D7.0.2, including the Lingo for D7 that wasn't included in LIAN.

For those needing more information on D7's dot syntax, click here.

Do LIAN and DIAN cover D7?

The vast majority of new D7 Lingo is covered in Director in a Nutshell (DIAN). Don't let the name fool you; DIAN includes a lot of Lingo. It is not simply a rehash of Director's UI commands. DIAN covers all the Lingo for sound, video, cue points, text and fonts, bitmaps, analyzing the runtime environment, memory and performance analysis and more.

Lingo in a Nutshell (LIAN) covers up through Director 6.5 for both Macintosh and Windows but the vast majority of the material also applies to Director 7. (LIAN covers the abstract concepts in Lingo, such as events, messages, object-oriented programming, etc. and that hasn't changed in since D6). Many of the "new" features in D7 appeared first in D6.5, and LIAN covers those in great detail. But Director 7 introduces a lot of new features that simply wouldn't fit in LIAN due to time and space constraints. If you have reservations about buying a book that doesn't specifically cover D7 the discussion below will probably change your mind.

A D7 version of LIAN direct from the publisher may take some time. However, I will provide substantial on-line updates to LIAN to address D7-related issues. When a D7 version of LIAN comes out, O'Reilly has a book upgrade policy. If you want me to write a separate book covering just the new Lingo in D7, please let me know. In the meantime, DIAN (released in March 1999) in consort with LIAN (released in November 1998) will suit your needs well.


Should I upgrade to D7?

D7 has a lot of nice, new features. It also has a completely new playback engine which can be both a plus and a minus. Whether you upgrade or not, keep the advice of John Dowdell of Macromedia in mind. John writes:

Reminder: Please do give yourself some time to explore the new version. Going on deadline with a new environment is not as prudent as continuing nearterm projects in the environment you already know. "It's easier to create than to convert"... gradually building up your chops after the new version arrives is better than porting existing work on deadline.

Reader Questions about the coverage of D6.5 versus D7:

Michael Champagne writes:

"Any Director 7 information you can provide online with regards to your Lingo in a Nutshell for Director v6.5 would reduce fears of buying a book a version behind. I will still probably buy it in any event however. Just wish it had references to Director 7."

Bruce Epstein replies:

Mike, I understand your concerns. First of all, if you are not happy with the book, and don't think it is the best $24.95 investment you've ever made, I will personally buy it back from you (it is available for $20 or less in many places). O'Reilly also offers an unconditional money-back guarantee.

I assume your questions and concerns break down into three categories:

1. Why doesn't LIAN cover D7?

Whereas LIAN hasn't yet been updated for D7, it would be misleading to assume that it doesn't apply to D7. In LIAN, I tried to focus on teaching the reader to program, debug, and analyze their own projects. This knowledge transcends Director versions and will serve you well in any programming endeavor. Most of the Lingo from D6 and D6.5 works identically in D7 (in fact Macromedia goes to great lengths to ensure this). So to the extent that D7 is a superset of D6.5, LIAN covers the vast majority of Lingo that you'll be using in D7.

When LIAN was finalized, D7 was not yet shipping, and there is a big lag in print publishing. The manuscript for Lingo in a Nutshell was submitted in late May 1998, and we crammed in details about D6.5 at that time. We considered delaying Lingo in a Nutshell until after D7 shipped, but we chose to ship the book in its current form and I think you'll be very happy with it. LIAN shipped in November 1998. At the time we made the commitment to ship LIAN, it seemed quite plausible that D7's release would slip into the first quarter of 1999. D7 was released shortly thereafter (in December 1998) much to the disappointment of many people who felt it was not ready for prime time. We're still glad we shipped LIAN when we did. It is already the best-selling Director/Lingo book available.

D6.5 was a big investment, and not everyone is going to lay out $500 to upgrade right away ($1000 cross-platform). We expected people to be using D6/D6.5 heavily for at least another year after D7 shipped (we still get questions about D5 too). Books that cover a new version tend to skimp on information on past versions. To my knowledged LIAN is the only book covering D6.5, and backwards compatibility is an issue for many readers (such as those supporting Windows 3.1 and 68K Macs).

When D7 shipped, it became obvious that people wanted a book to cover its new features. We went to heroic efforts to cram the companion volume, Director in a Nutshell (DIAN), full of all the new D7 stuff, including the new Lingo for D7 that wasn't covered in LIAN. Because the dust has settled on D7 by now, we were able to come out with a more complete and accurate book than would have been possible in November 1998 when D7 was still in beta testing. That way you get the facts and not the fluff.

2. Will the stuff in LIAN still be relevant and accurate?

As I said, DIAN is completely updated for D7 including the new Lingo. And, the vast majority (99%+) of the coverage in LIAN also applies perfectly well to D7. You won't be wasting any time learning from LIAN, as your knowledge will translate into D7 quite well. I will be posting on-line updates to each chapter of LIAN to address any differences from D6 to D7.

3. What am I missing if LIAN doesn't cover D7?

You aren't missing anything. There are a lot of new features in D7 that are covered in DIAN instead. I will be addressing the minor shortcomings of LIAN in regard to D7 with on-line updates. We may come out with a separate "LIAN Supplement for D7" booklet, or may update the existing LIAN book to address D7; the exact path is not yet clear. LIAN costs about half of what most other Lingo books cost, so we don't think it is unreasonable to create a separate book just for D7, but we're not sure yet.

If you'd like to see such a book tell O'Reilly that you'd buy it. By buying the existing books, you'll show O'Reilly that there is a market for high quality Director documentation.

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(The page last revised June 21, 1999)