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6/96 Reviews SW: MediaForge

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Multimedia Hammer and Anvil

By Serdar Yegulalp

MediaForge is not only a multimedia presentation builder, it's also a uniquely designed authoring tool that's virtually a programming language. It can create slick-looking standalone 32-bit Windows applications that use every kind of multimedia available.

MediaForge looks at an application as three layers: a Project layer of variables and procedures; Backgrounds, which are forms and subforms; and Scenes, the actual data and objects in a subform. You control each layer's elements with scripts, lists of objects and actions that determine how objects interact. A given layer's scripts are organized in collapsible, hierarchical fashion, so you can quickly and easily see how everything goes together.

You start by creating a new script, then drag elements from an on-screen toolbox to the appropriate place on the script. You can also place elements on the Stage, Strata's metaphor for a live window.

Double-clicking on a script element brings up a tabbed property sheet that lists the inherent functions and events connected with that object. For example, the property sheet of an audio object will show which .WAV file it's linked to and its playback properties, while a button object's list includes its size, position, button graphics and so on.

Setting an object's event actions is easy. You just select the event, then the target object, from a series of drop-down menus. The menus themselves are cluttered and confusing, but with a little patience and careful reading I was able to produce nearly any effect I wanted.

MediaForge also supports OCX objects, DLL controls and MCI commands, a powerful set of tools that can greatly enhance your application's functionality. These tools are typically the province of hard-core programmers, but MediaForge's implementation makes them much easier to understand and therefore more likely to be used by novices. Still, this won't be an easy product for the neophyte, who'll need to do some homework before using it.

Apart from a few inevitable beta bugs, my application building proceeded smoothly, and I was pleased with the results. The shipping version of MediaForge, which should be out by the time you read this, promises to be a stunner.

Info File
Pros: Development tools; no runtime needed
Cons: Learning curve
Platforms: Windows 95, NT
800-6-STRATA, 801-628-5218
WinMag Box Score 3.5
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