Director 8 users:Refer to How to create a fast-start Director 8 stub projector (TechNote 14431).

What is a "fast-start" Director 7 projector, and how is one created? Also, what is a "stub" projector, and can a fast-start projector incorporate stub projector techniques?

A so-called "fast-start" Director 7 projector implementation will typically launch faster than a standard (default) projector. A fast-start projector can also incorporate so-called "stub projector" techniques, too, by using a combination of techniques involving movie and projector design, and Xtra and application resource file configuration.

A fast-start Director 7.0.2 stub projector consists of six elements:

  • A Director 7.0.2 projector, created using the "Player: Shockwave" option.
  • Within the projector: A simple, small (file size) "stub" movie. Its Xtras must not be marked "Include in projector".
  • External to the projector: Your other movies, cast libraries, and linked media -- if any.
  • External to the projector: A folder named "Xtras". This folder must be at the same directory level as the projector.
  • External to the projector, in its "Xtras" folder: Only those Xtras required to play your movies.
  • External to the projector, in the same folder or in its "Xtras" folder: Director 7.0.2's projector application resource files (.DLLs).

This TechNote describes how to implement all of these elements.

Standard projectors vs. fast-start projectors
In a standard Director 7 projector, Xtras are typically included inside (compiled into) the projector itself. Although this is easy, convenient, and reliable on properly configured playback systems, there can be performance disadvantages with a standard projector. Because an Xtra has to be external to a projector at runtime -- before the Xtra can be used to play your movie -- a standard projector requires a system TEMP directory to unpack and copy the Xtras into at launch-time, before the movie plays.

A fast-start projector typically launches faster than a standard projector because a fast-start projector implementation doesn't include Xtras inside the projector itself -- so the Xtras don't unpack and copy into a TEMP directory. And, since a fast-start projector doesn't require a TEMP directory, it can launch on playback systems that don't have a properly-configured TEMP directory.

Stub projector

Developers often create a small "stub" movie -- a movie that plays other movies that are external to a projector -- as a method to speed-up projector launching. A stub movie is typically a very minimal movie in terms of file size and complexity, and when it's the only movie in a projector, the projector is referred to as a "stub projector". A stub projector can typically launch faster than a larger projector because most systems can launch a small application faster than a large application. Stub projectors have other advantages, such as enabling simpler file maintenance, creating backups and restoring files, authoring cross-platform, hybrid CD-ROM implementations, and so forth.

Projector resource files
Director 7 enables distributing projector application resources files external to a Director 7 "Shockwave Player" projector, instead of compiling them into a standard projector. As is the case with Xtras, since the resource files are not inside a Shockwave Player projector, they don't need to be unpacked and copied to a TEMP directory. This implementation further enables faster and more reliable projector launching. As explained in the note at the end of this TechNote, this capability is primarily of value to Director 7 for Windows users.

Director 8 users:Refer to How to create a fast-start Director 8 stub projector (TechNote 14431).

Director 7 users: If you have Director 7.0 installed, we strongly recommend installing the Director 7.0.2 update.

Note:This TechNote was revised 11/19/99: Steps 10, 11 and 16 have been modified. Also, the discussion regarding "msvcrt.dll" and "msvfw32.dll" has been moved into What might cause Director 7 projectors to fail on Windows (TechNote 14151).

To create a fast-start Director 7 stub projector:

1

Create a new folder (directory) on your computer desktop. You will use this folder to contain the several files and a sub-folder that together comprise a fast-start projector installation.

Note:This folder is not actually required when making a fast-start projector, but for purposes of this discussion it will simplify organizing the files. The folder's name and location are not significant.

2 Launch Director 7.
3

Choose File menu > Open command to open your movie.

Or, if you wish to create a new movie from scratch, choose File> New > Movie.

4

Choose Modify > Movie > Xtras. This will open the Movie Xtras dialog box.

5

Disable the "Include in projector" option for all Xtras that appear on the list in the Movie Xtras dialog. To do this, select the name of each Xtra individually and uncheck the "Include in projector" option.By not including Xtras in the projector itself the projector will be able to launch faster.

6 Click OK to accept the changes and close the Movie Xtras dialog.
7

Choose File > Save and Compact to save the movie.

Note:Repeat steps 3 - 7 for all of the movies that will be added to (packaged into) the projector. In other words, uncheck (disable) "Include in projector" for all Xtras in all movies that are included in the projector itself.

Also, if you make changes to any of the movies that will be included into the projector after this point, you should repeat steps 3 - 7 again for the movies that were changed. Certain authoring actions - such as adding a new cast member, or removing an Xtra from a movie that contains a member that requires the Xtra - will cause the Xtra to appear (or reappear) on the list in the Movie Xtras dialog. By default, when an Xtra is added to this list, the "Include in projector" option is enabled (checked.) Therefore, you must disable the "Include in projector" option again in movies that will added to the projector.

Note:It is not necessary to uncheck the "Include in projector" option for Xtras in movies that are external to the projector, because these Xtra names are not referenced when a projector is created. Xtras names that appear in an external movie's Xtras list are referenced at runtime when the movie plays, but not when creating a projector.

8 Choose File > Create Projector and the Create Projector dialog will open.
9

In the Create Projector dialog select the movies you want the projector to play and select Add to add them to the File List.

Note:For best performance, add only one, minimal "stub" movie into the projector. Keep external to the projector all other movies, castLibs and Xtras that the projector may play or use.

To create a stub movie, make a new movie that executes Lingo such as 'go to movie "whichMovie"' to navigate to an external movie. Ideally, a stub movie should contain as little media as possible, perhaps only Lingo to navigate to your "real", external movie. Thus, the external movie will be the first movie your end users will see, because it contains graphics and so forth. Don't add any other movies, castLibs or Xtras into the projector except the stub movie. A projector that contains a stub movie is often referred to as a "stub projector".

For information on navigating among movies and working with linkedmovies, media and casts, refer to Director's documentation, Help and searchable TechNotes such as "Authoring tips on how to effectively use linked media" (TechNote 14070).

10

In the "Create Projector" dialog box, select Options to open the Projector Options dialog box.

11

Windows only:In the Director 7.0.2 for Windows Projector Options dialog, select Player>Shockwave. (In Director 7.0, this option was called "Use system player".) Click OK.

Macintosh only:In the Director 7.0.2 for Macintosh Projector Options dialog, select Player >Standard. (In Director 7.0, this option was available by disabling "Use system player".) Then click OK.

Note:For details on why this step is different for Macintosh and Windows projectors, refer to the note at the end of this TechNote.

12 In the Create Projector dialog, click Create to open the Save projector as dialog box. Enter a name for the projector and navigate to the folder you created in step 1. Click Save to save the projector into the folder.
13 Exit or quit from Director 7 and return to your computer desktop.
14

Open the folder you created in step 1. This folder should now contain your projector. Create a new sub-folder within this folder and name it "Xtras". The Xtras folder must be at the same directory level as the projector you created in step 12.

You will use the projector's local Xtras folder to contain the Xtras required to play your movies. To speed projector launching, rather than including Xtras within the projector itself, distribute the Xtras separately by putting a copy of the Xtras required to play your movies in the projector's Xtras folder.

Note:Vendors may provide Xtras as two separate files (an authoring Xtra and a runtime Xtra), or they may provide one, dual-purpose Xtra.

An "authoring-only" Xtra is used to support authoring tasks. For example: To display an authoring dialog box, to export data, and so forth. The "Flash Asset Options" Xtra is an example of an "authoring only" Xtra.

A runtime Xtra supports movie functionality when previewing a movie during authoring, or when playing a movie in a runtime environment such as with a projector or in Shockwave. The "Flash Asset" Xtra is an example of a runtime Xtra.

In some cases an Xtra is used for both authoring and at runtime. The "FileIO" and the "Sound Import Export" Xtras are examples of Xtras that can be used to play movies during both authoring and at runtime.

Depending on the Xtra, you will either copy the runtime or the dual purpose Xtra file to your projector's Xtras folder.

For more information on Macromedia's Xtras, and on how to determine which are required to play your movie, select the Info option in Director 8's Modify > Movie > Xtras dialog box.

Refer also to information on Xtras in Director's documentation (for example: "Managing Xtras for distributed movies" in Using Director, page 352), Help and in searchable TechNotes on our Web site.

15

Copy into the projector's Xtras folder only those Xtras that are required to play your movies.

Macromedia Xtras installed by Director 7 are located in Director 7's application folder, in the Xtras sub-folder. Copy the Xtras required to play your movie from Director 7's Xtras folder to your projector's Xtras folder.

Avoid putting Xtras into the projector's Xtras folder that are not actually required to play your movies. Avoid including "authoring only" Xtras in the projector's Xtras folder. Doing either of these may slow down projector launching, or cause error messages to be displayed, or cause movie performance problems.

Xtras are platform-specific files. Windows projectors only load and use Windows Xtras, and Macintosh projectors only load and use Macintosh Xtras. A projector is not affected by the presence of an Xtra designed for use on the "other" platform, so it's okay to put Xtras for both platforms into a single Xtras folder.

If your movies require a 3rd party Xtra to play, you will need to put a copy of the appropriate 3rd party Xtra into your projector's Xtras folder.

For more information on using, licensing and distributing 3rd party Xtras, refer to the Xtra's documentation and the vendor's Technical Support. Macromedia does not provide Technical Support for 3rd party products.

16

Windows only: Director 7 for Macintosh users should skip to Step 17.

For Director 7.0.0 created projectors, copy the following Windows-specific application resource files from Director 7 for Windows' application folder to the folder containing your projector.Do not put them in the Xtras folder.

For Director 7.0.2 created projectors, copy the following Windows-specific application resource files from Director 7 for Windows' application folder to the folder containing your projector, or to the projector's Xtras folder.

"DIRAPI.DLL" and "IML32.DLL".

Notes:

  • Refer to What might cause Director 7 projectors to fail on Windows (TechNote 14151) for important information regarding which Windows Dynamic Link Library files required by all Director 7 projectors.
  • Be careful not to copy the similarly named files in Director 7's application folder that have ".MCH" or ".Z" filename extensions.
  • A Director 7 for Windows projector that is created using the Shockwave Player option requires the resource files listed above. By providing the resource files in the same directory as the projector or within the projector's Xtras folder when appropriate, you avoid the case where an end user may not have Shockwave 7 installed, and thus avoid downloading and installing Shockwave 7. A Director 7.x Shockwave Player projector does not use a Shockwave 8 installation.
  • For details on why Director 7 for Macintosh users skip this step, refer to the note at the end of this TechNote.
17 Remember to distribute external to the projector the movies, castLibs and linked media required by your movie(s). Typically, if the external files are located in the folder that contains the projector, at the same directory level, the projector will be able to locate and link to the files automatically. Other file configurations are also possible, as described in "Authoring tips on how to effectively use linked media" (TechNote 14070).
18 Launch your projector. It should quickly open and begin playing your movies within a few seconds.

Additional fast-start projector information and troubleshooting tips

Director 8 users:Refer to How to create a fast-start Director 8 stub projector (TechNote 14431).

NOTE: Because of how the Macintosh operating system works, there is essentially no performance benefit gained by distributing a Director 7 and 8 for Macintosh projector application resource files external to a Shockwave Player projector. The files are named "DPLIB", "IMLLIB" and "MacromediaRuntimeLib", and by default they are included in (compiled into) a full, non-Shockwave Player projector. The Mac OS performance in this regard is almost identical -- very fast -- whether these resources are internal or external to a projector. That's why the instructions above do not describe distributing these files external to a Director 7 for the Macintosh Shockwave Player projector.

There's an example of a fast-start projector on the Director 7 CD-ROM, located in the "Access" folder.

If you have Director 7.0 installed, we strongly recommend installing the Director 7.0.2 update.

Distributing Xtras in an Xtras folder is typically beneficial and recommended because it will enable the fastest Director 7 projector launching on both Macintosh and Windows.

If your projector takes a long time to launch before it begins to play your movies, or if an error message appears, retrace the steps above. If the problem persists, troubleshoot for movie design, data, and projector, file and system configuration issues to determine the cause.

If an Xtra that is required to play your movie is not included in the projectors' Xtras folder, a message may appear to that effect when you launch the projector. Or, there may be movie performance problems, such as sprites not appearing on stage, or a red "X" where a sprite should appear, or no sound, and so forth.

If it takes too long before the first frame of your movie plays, there can be many possible causes. For example, there may be media loading issues, or your movie may be executing unnecessary or time-consuming Lingo (perhaps in a movie script, or in frame 1), and so forth. These issues can be avoided or minimized by changing your movie design. For example, there are Director 7 Text-related issues that can impact movie loading times; for information, refer to "How can I speed up big text in Director 7?" (TechNote 13852) and "Optimizing text display speed in Director 7" (TechNote 13771). Other Director-related issues are discussed in searchable TechNotes.

Performance problems can also be due to system configuration issues. Testing against multiple machines/configurations will usually be helpful in troubleshooting configuration issues.

Data-related issues can impact performance. If necessary, test against new, simple testing movies using known good data, such as the sample media located on the Director 7 CD-ROM in the Macromedia> Support folder.

For more information on how movie design affects performance, and on how to troubleshoot movies, refer to Director's documentation, Help and searchable TechNotes, including " What are some more general troubleshooting tips?" (TechNote 13872).

TechNote revision history:
7/23/99 - Clarification: Disable "Include in projector" only for Xtras in movies added to the projector (Step #7.)
8/19/99 - Added links to Text performance-related TechNotes.
10/26/99 - Revised steps 10, 11 & 16. For details on why Director 7 for Macintosh users skip these steps, refer to the note in the "Additional information and troubleshooting" section above.
11/19/99 - Revised steps 10 and 11 & 16. The discussion regarding "msvcrt.dll" and "msvfw32.dll" has been moved into What might cause Director 7 projectors to fail on Windows (TechNote 14151)
4/25/00 - Added list of "elements" at top of TechNote.

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