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Xtras FUQ

Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.
(This page last revised September 6, 1997)
Written by Bruce A. Epstein

This FAQ answers most of the common questions regarding Xtras. Refer to the TechNote, "Installing and Using Xtras" for more details.

A. What is an Xtra?

Xtras are plug-ins that add specialized capabilities and extended functionality to Director and other Macromedia products, beyond the features provided "out of the box". Xtras can include plug-in transitions, new Lingo commands, new castmember types, and even developer tools. They allow third parties, such as Zeus Productions to provide Director users with powerful, specialized features than don't come standard with Director. They are conceptually similar to other plug-in types, such as Photoshop Filters. (In fact, Director 5.0 now supports Photoshop filters.)


A. What is MOA?

The Macromedia Open Architecture (MOA) provides a common extension mechanism, allowing Macromedia and third party developers to enhance and extend the capabilities of Macromedia products. Because Macromedia is incorporating MOA into all of its applications, some Xtras may work with multiple Macromedia products. For example, Transition Xtras can be used in both Director and Authorware. Pixel filter Xtras can be used in FreeHand, as well as Director and xRes.

A. Will Xtras work in Director 6.0? Director 5.0 and 4.0?

Xtras require Director 5.0 or Director 6.0, and will not work with Director 4.0. Some Xtras may work with only Director 5.0 or Director 6.0. Zeus Xtras are compatible with both Director 5.0 and Director 6.0. You can use older XObjects in Director 4.0.

A. Will XObjects, XFCNs and DLLS work with Director 5.0 and 6.0?

XObjects. XFCNs and DLLs thatworked with Director 4.0, may work with Director 5.0 and 6.0 too, but not all will. If an Xtra version is available, you are generally better off using it. This is especially true when using 32-bit projectors under Windows 95 or NT. Some XObjects that used Director 4.0 internal data structures, such as the StageToCast XObject, will not work with Director 5.0 or 6.0.

A. Which Macromedia products support Xtras?

Xtras are supported by the following versions of Macromedia products. Earlier versions do not support Xtras.

A. Can I use the same Xtra in multiple Macromedia applications?

Some Xtras, such as Transitions, can be used by both Director and Authorware, others are application-specific. If an Xtra performs operations unique to a particular product, it will not work with other Macromedia products. As Macromedia's product line evolves, more Xtras sould work across multiple applications.

A. Can Director accept plug-ins from other applications?

Director can use some Photoshop filter, but only ones created for version 3.1 or prior (?). All features may not be tweenable, and Photoshop 4.0 filters will not work in Director.

A. Why doesn't Macromedia include the Xtra functionality into the core Director engine?

It is not practical to add every conceivable function to a product and still ship it in a timely manner at a sellable price. The third-party Xtras, in addition to the many free Xtras provided by Macromedia, allow users to add custom functionality at a fraction of the price of custom development.
The modularity afforded by Xtras allows Macromedia to update individual components without releasing a new version of a product. Furthermore, Xtras can be used with multiple Macromedia products and/or web browsers.
Director 6.0 supports bundling Xtras into a Projectors.

A. What are the different types of Xtras?

There are four different types of Xtras supported by Director. Some of these are also supported by other Macromedia applications:

A. What is the difference between an Xtra and an XObject or DLL?

Xtras are much more tightly integrated with the Macromedia products than older XObjects and DLLs. Lingo Xtras replace XObjects, but additional Xtra types are now available. XObjects dealt mainly with operations external to Director, such as copying files, checking RAM, performing serial I/O. Xtras can affect the behavior of components internal to Director, by adding authoring time tools, new castmembers types, transitions and more.

A. What Xtras are available?

Zeus Productions sells several Xtras, and there are a wide variety of third party Xtras available. Macromedia also includes numerous Xtras with Director, such as FileIO. Refer to our Specific Xtras FAQ.

A. How do I install Xtras for use during Development?

Copy the Xtra(s) into your "Xtras" folder where Director is installed, and restart Director. Type "showXlib" in the message window to see if the Xtra has been recognized. Refer to the TechNote, "Installing and Using Xtras" for more details.

A. Can I open Xtras manually?

It is not recommended to use openXLib and closeXlib with Xtras. The preferred method is to have them opened and closed automatically when placed in the proper Xtras folder. Refer to the TechNote, "Installing and Using Xtras" for more details.

A. Do I include Xtras when I ship a Projector?

Projectors don't look in the same place for Xtras as Director itself. This allows each projector to use different Xtras. You need to create a folder called "Xtras" in the same folder as the projector itself, and place the Xtras there.

A. Can I incorporate (bundle) Xtras into a Projector?

Director 6.0 supports bundling Xtras with the Projector. (Director 5.0 does not). Under Windows, the Xtras are unbundled dynamically at runtime into a temporary folder. You cannot bundle Xtras with a downloadable Shockwave movie for security reasons. The user needs to download these separately.

A. The Xtra works in Director, but in my projector, I get "Script Error - handler not defined" errors.

Xtras for your projector need to reside in a folder called "Xtras" within the same folder as the projector. Projectors do not check for Xtras in the authoring-time Director Xtras folders.
Also make sure that you have the same Xtra in the Projector's Xtra folder as you did during development in the Director folder, and not, say, an outdated version.

A. Do the same Xtras work under Macintosh and Windows?

Although many Xtras are available for both Macintosh and Windows, there are separate versions of the Xtra for each platform. There may be multiple versions available for one platform, and some Xtras are not supported on both platforms. For example, zScript is Macintosh-only because AppleScript is a feature of the Mac OS that does not apply to Windows.

A.Do the same Xtras work under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 and Window NT?

Generally, there are different versions of an Xtra for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95/NT. Some Xtras are only supported under Windows 95 or Windows 3.1 and not both. Not all Xtras are supported under any or all versions of Windows NT. Zeus's Xtras for Windows are supported under Wind 3.1, 95 and NT.

A. What Xtra do I need under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, and Windows NT?

The type of Xtra needed under Windows depends on the Projector Type, not the operating system. The Xtra must always match the Projector, so 16-bit Xtras are used with 16-bit Projectors and 32-bit Xtras are used with 32-bit Projectors. Generally 16-bit Xtras (with an .X16 extension) are used under Windows 3.1 and 32-bit Xtras (with an .X32 extension) are used under Windows 95/NT.

A. What Xtras do I need for 68K and PowerMacs?

The type of Xtra needed on the Macintosh depends on the processor type (68K or PowerPC) and not the type of Projector. The Mac OS will automatically look for the correct type of Xtra for the processor installed.

A. Is there some way to incorporate Xtras into a Director file?

No. Xtras should not be incorporated into a Director file, they should be incorporated only into Projectors.

A. How can I tell which Xtras are installed?

Different types of Xtras show up in different parts of Director's interface.

A. How can I determine which methods are included in a Lingo Xtra?

You can view the Xtras' methods using the mMessageList method supported by all Lingo Xtras. For example, to view FileIO's methods, use:
		put mMessageList (xtra "FileIO")

A. How do I instantiate a Lingo Xtra?

Instantiate the Xtra in your Lingo code, using the new method, such as:
		global gFileObj

		set gFileObj = new (xtra "FileIO")

		if not objectP (gFileObj) then

			alert "something didn't work" 

		end if

A. How do I use the other methods after instantiating a Lingo Xtra?

Use the instance handle returned by the new method to call the other methods, such as:
		global gFileObj

		set gFileObj = new (xtra "FileIO")

		if not objectP (gFileObj) then 

			alert "something didn't work" 


			gFileObj (createFile, the pathname & "junk.txt") 

		end if

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Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.