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zOpen FUQ

(Last substantive change to this page made February 26, 2003)
Copyright © 1996-2003. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Please consult the following list for answers to the most common pre-sales questions regarding zOpen, as well as additional technical information not covered on the zOpen Summary Page. Refer to our Needs Analysis FAQ to determine if zOpen or some other tool is right for you.


General Questions About zOpen


A. What is zOpen and why would I use it?

zLaunch is an Xtra for Windows that allows you to launch others executable seamlessly from Director. It also allows you to open and print documents with external applications. Furthermore, it covers the Windows desktop while your executable is running.

Consult the zOpen Summary Page for a synopsis of zOpen's functionality, and refer to our Needs Analysis FAQ to determine if zOpen or some other tool is right for you.

A. Is zOpen available for both Mac and Windows?

zOpen is for Windows only, but similar functionality is provided by zLaunch for Macintosh or zScript for Macintosh. If you are running low on RAM or have a conflict between applications, zLaunch for Windows may also be of interest.

A. How much does zOpen cost?

See the zOpen Summary Page for pricing.

A. Is there a trial version available?

Consult our Download Center for the latest trial version.

Remember, there is a Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee, so you can try any of our products, including zOpen, risk-free.

A. How do I order zOpen?

You can order it direct from Zeus Productions. Consult our Ordering Page for details.

A. What are the licensing requirements? Is zOpen Royalty-Free?

zOpen comes with an unlimited royalty-free license. We ask that you include the Zeus logo in your credits screen.

A. What benefits does zOpen offer over Lingo's built-in open command?

zOpen offers numerous improvements over Lingo's open command, but its primary advantages are the ability to locate an application associated with a file extension, and seamless integration with external applications. Consult the zOpen Summary Page for a synopsis of zOpen's benefits over Lingo's open command. If you are running low on RAM or have some conflict with another application, zLaunch for Windows may be more appropriate.

It is our policy is to never oversell a customer. We recommend that you try Lingo's open command first. If you have not had any problems with the open command, then it may be adequate for your needs. You can also pass a document name to open using the "open...with" syntax. Refer to our Needs Analysis FAQ to determine if zOpen or some other tool is right for you.

A. What is the sequence when launching an application with zOpen?

zOpen performs these operations in sequence (each step is also optional):
When you start zOpen, you pass it a series of parameters to control its operation.

The launched application may be self-terminating, as in the case of a PowerPoint Slideshow, or the user may quit the program at their discretion, as in the case of Adobe Acrobat. Be sure to provide a quit or exit button, or warn the user before starting the application that they must quit it to return to the main projector.

A. Is zOpen an Xtra?

zOpen is an Xtra, and is called via Lingo from within Director or a Projector, as any Xtra would be. The zOpen package includes several functions, including those necessary for opening and printing external documents.

A. What versions of Director are supported by zOpen?

zOpen works with all versions of Director, up to and including Director MX.

A. Is zOpen easy to use?

zOpen is extremely easy to use. We've already written all the Lingo for you. We provide a drag-and-drop behavior you can use in your own project within minutes. Click here for an example Director file that uses zOpen to launch a PDF document (the demo includes instructions on how to copy the drag-and-drop behavior to your own project. If your needs differ from the example provided, call or email us and we'll write the Lingo for you.
 
We offer World-Class Technical Support.If you are familiar with Director, even if you don't use Lingo, it should not take more than a few minutes to implement. We can and will help you get it working. Guaranteed.

Remember that zOpen can be usedwith any external document or application (it is just like double-clicking the document in the Windows File Explorere). If you are using a non-standard application, allow time to debug any conflicts between Director and the launched application.

A. How is zOpen initiated from Director, and how do I pass it parameters?

zOpen is called from Lingo as any other Xtra or Lingo command would be. It is as if new Lingo commands are available once you install zOpen. Refer to the user documentation for complete details or simply use our premade drag-and-drop behavior available here as part of a example Director file that uses zOpen to launch a PDF document. If your needs differ from the example provided, call or email us and we'll write the Lingo for you.

A. What is your upgrade policy?

Consult our Policies page for details on our upgrade policy.


A. Will Zeus Productions write the code to make my applications work with zLaunch? What about Examples, Documentation and Technical Support?

Our products comes with thorough documentation and Lingo examples which include everything you need to know. Further assistance is provided via TechNotes and FAQs on our web site. An intermediate Lingo developer should be able to handle the job himself. If your needs differ from the example provided, call or email us and we'll write the Lingo for you.

Zeus Productions offers World-Class Technical Support. to registered users. If you prefer for Zeus Productions to write your Lingo for you, just ask. If you have other Director/Lingo needs unrelated to our Xtras, Custom Development Services are available at an extra charge.

A. What if zOpen does not meet my needs? Is there a return policy?

If your application fulfills the criteria discussed within this FAQ, there is a high probability that it will work with zOpen.

If you have been unable to get it to work, contact our World-Class Technical Support, as the problem is most likely caused by an error in the filenames or other parameters being passed to zOpen. It is also possible that the latest version of zOpen may include additional features or options to address your problem.

Consult our Policies page for details on our Return Policy.

A. Are there any known bugs?

No. The product is very stable, and we continue to upgrade and improve it on an ongoing basis. We immediately address any bugs brought to our attention within the currently supported feature set, which is not to say that zOpen contains every possible feature or works in every possible circumstance. Be sure that you have the latest version of zOpen, as it may well address your requirements. Consult our Policies page for details on our philosophy and policy on bugs.

Refer to our Tech Alerts for the latest information.

A. When the launched application terminates, is the user returned to the same location/frame in the DIR or DXR file from which they left?

Yes. The Director Projector will wait patiently while the launched application runs. When the secondary application terminates, you pick up in Director right where you left off.


A. How much RAM does zOpen require?

zOpen itself has a very small RAM footprint, less than 256K, but you will need sufficient RAM to keep both Director and the external application open. If you do not have sufficient RAM to keep both open, you should probably use zLaunch for Windows instead.

A. Does zOpen introduce a delay when launching other applications?

zOpen itself does not introduce any measurable delay. If RAM constraints force Windows to use virtual memory then you will notice a performance decrease, but it is not due to zOpen, per se.


A. What needs to be installed to run zOpen? Can it run from a CD?

The zOpen Xtra(s) ordinarily reside in your Xtras folder accompanying your projector. It can be can run it from either a hard drive or a CD. Refer to the TechNote, "Installing and Using Xtras."


A. Can the zOpen Xtra be bundled into the projector?

Director 6.0 and later support bundling Xtras with a local projector. All such Xtras are unbundled dynamically at runtime into a temporary folder. Xtras can not currently be bundled with Shockwave movies. We strongly recommend against bundling for reasons unrelated to zOpen, but you can bundle zOpen just like any other Xtra can be bundled.



A. What types of Projectors will zOpen work with?

zOpen supports all versions of Director on all versions of Windows.


A. Can zOpen launch any Windows application?

zOpen can open any application that can be started with the Lingo open command. zOpen improves over Lingo's open command in several ways, but you may need zLaunch for Windows if you are having trouble launching an application with the Lingo open command. Usually, zOpen is used to launch a document. It will find the appropriate application, if it is installed, the same way Windows finds an appropriate application when you double-click a document in the File Explorer.

A. What types of applications will not work with zOpen?

Unlike the Lingo open command, zOpen waits for the launched application to terminate. Some applications are just front ends to a secondary executable.

In this case, a small application immediately spawns a new process, and then quits. The primary application is terminated, but the secondary process continues to run. In this case, zOpen will detect the termination of the first application and return the projector.

Often, a front-end application simply determines some system parameters, such as the OS version, before calling one or more secondary applications. If you simulate this functionality from within Director, you can often run the secondary application directly and avoid the problem.

A. Do I need to modify my external application(s) to work with zOpen?

zOpen can open any application that can be started with the Lingo open command. zOpen improves over Lingo's open command in several ways, but you may need zLaunch for Windows if you are having trouble launching an application with the Lingo open command.


A. Will zOpen force applications to the foreground or background or to kill other applications?

zOpen does not directly control other applications, but it will bring an application to the foreground if is it already running. zOpen also gives you control over the sequence of user interaction, which may address your needs.

You should advise the user to quit all other running applications before starting your projector. zScript for Macintosh may offer similar functionality on the Macintosh.

Zeus Productions does not currently offer a utility to rearrange or kill other applications, but may offer such a utility in the future. If you are interested in such a utility, please e-mail Zeus


A. Can zOpen open a document with an application?

Yes, zOpen can pass a document to be opened or printed by the external application when it is first launched. In fact, you can specify the document alone, and the associated application will be determined automatically. zOpen will find the appropriate application, if it is installed, the same way Windows finds an appropriate application when you double-click a document in the File Explorer.

A. Will zOpen locate the executable with which to open or print a document?

Yes. zOpen for Windows will locate the executable associated with a given extension, such as .HTML. zOpen will not perform a general disk search however, so it can only find applications that are associated with an extension in the WIN.INI or Registry File. If you prefer, you can explicitly specify the application to use to open the document. This would be helpful if you want to ship an application on a CD without installing it.

A. Can zOpen pass a document to an already open application?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is "it depends somewhat on the application." Yes, zOpen for Windows can pass a document to an existing application, but what happens from there is highly application-dependent. The application may open multiple documents, switch documents, ignore the document or cause another copy of the application to be created.For most applications, zOpen switches documents correctly in a way that the Lingo open command usually doesn't. zScript for Macintosh and zLaunch for Macintosh provide similar functionality on the Mac.


A. Do I need to leave my Projector running or can I quit it?

zOpen is an Xtra, and therefore requires that the Projector remain active. If you would prefer to quit the projector to free up RAM , or release control over the palette and video drivers, you should use zLaunch for Windows instead. If you don't need to return to the projector, you can use the Lingo open command.

A. How do I know if I have sufficient RAM to run my external application?

Ideally you would query the user's system to determine the amount of free RAM, to decide whether sufficient RAM is available. Note that the Lingo property the freeBytes returns the amount of RAM available to Director, not the amount available to other applications or the amount installed on the system.

Check Macromedia's Xtra page or updatestage.com for possible Xtras that return the amount of RAM available.

A. Will zOpen control external devices through the serial or COM port?

zOpen works with external applications, not external devices. See updatestage.com for Xtras that will communicate via the serial port.

Some devices include applications to control them, and you could launch such an application with zOpen. If the application controlling the device can read and write data files, then it may be able communicate with Director using the FileIO Xtra.

If you are using a Macintosh, and the application controlling the device is AppleScriptable, Zeus's zScript Xtra may be appropriate.

A. Can zOpen reduce sources of conflict between my projector and other executables?

zOpen will not reduce conflicts between applications, but zLaunch for Windows and Macintosh will.

Don't Stop Now! There are many more questions addressed in Details on zOpen's Capabilities FAQ.




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Copyright © 1996-2003. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.