...to learn that using these together is now possible and easy.
With the use of a plug-in that connects IDL® and Director®, your IDL scripts can be accessed through Director-authored applications and your Director applications can now contain real data and analysis windows that have all the capabilities of IDL.
the developers of IDL, are pleased to add their support to the
Toolkit and Foundry project in the National STEME Digital Library. By
the data handling power of IDL with the media application capabilities
Macromedia’s Director this project brings together the strengths
software products, and opens up new avenues for fast and inexpensive
application development for the entire NSDL community. We look forward
working with The New Media Studio to show how IDL, which is usually regarded
a high-end research application, can become an engine for data-use education
all contexts. RSI has always envisioned this software as a research and
educational tool, and we are gratified to see this in active use by
RSI's IDL and the EXMI Xtra that connects this to Director
The Earth Data Multimedia Instrument (EDMI) Xtra for Macromedia Director
was originally developed out of the desire to allow students the ability
explore Earth-science related data sets within a Director application.
Research System Inc.'s Interactive Data Language (IDL) is an authoring
tool for creating interactive data visualization and analysis applications
and is used by many researchers in Earth Science fields. What the EDMI
Xtra accomplishes is the ability to run an IDL session within Macromedia
Director and to place IDL output in Diretor sprites. Thus, real-time
data visualization and analysis can be done within Director along with
any other of Director's multimedia elements such as digital audio, digital
video, Macromedia Flash, and/or shockwave animations, to name a few.
In combining the power of IDL and Director, the EDMI Xtra allows for
the development of more than just Earth-Data multimedia instruments.
Really, the EDMI Xtra can be used to create applicaitons that can interact,
visualize, and analize any data set that IDL can be taught to read.
The EDMI Xtra itself provides potential. Making use of that potential requires
some programming in IDL and Director's Lingo scripting language. The EDMI Xtra
creates an IDL instance within Director; meaning, a whole programming environment
is added. To run routines in IDL the commands have to be passed via Lingo to
the IDL instance. Our programmers understand the difficulties
of multilingual programming and have endeavored to provide sufficient resources
to minimize those difficulties.
The EDMI Xtra, then, comes with more than just the Xtra. It also requires supporting
files in order for the IDL programming environment to function. These files include
dynamic link library (dll) files, fonts, and a color table. These files are required
for the EDMI Xtra to and basic IDL functionality to work. However, IDL programmers
know that there are many proceedure files (.pro) files that are often included
with IDL that are other files often included with IDL which are useful if not
mandatory for interactive data projects to be developed. An entire collection
of .pro files as well as additonal dlls, fonts, maps, and other IDL resources
are also provided. There are two packages available for your use. These packages
are the EDMI Essentials Package and the EDMI Additions Package. EDMI Essentials
contains the minimum collection of files required for working with IDL in Director.
EDMI Additions contain the additional scripts and resources provided by IDL for
your development needs. Note, though, that the hook folder (which contains widget
scripts) has been removed because widget technology because the EDMI does not
currently support widgets.
We use Director to create our applications because Macromedia
is dedicated to keeping up-to-date with emerging multimedia technology
operating systems. Director is also extendable through its Xtra technology
so that we too can make it compatible with media it may not support
such as scientific data-sets. As a foundry developer you have the ability
to consider applications which are engaging, media-rich, state-of-the-art,
scientifically relavent, and pedagocially usefull.
The foundry, though, is more than a factory for pumping out data discovery products,
it is intended to be a community of developers. As a member of the Director developer
community you are invited to share your victories and difficulties whilein your
experiences with Director development. Since the community is open-(re)source
you aslo get the benefit of the work done by others; and hopefully, we too will
get the benefit of code you create as part of being a member of our community.
By sharing your thoughts and your code you become a valued asset in our toolkit
As a community, the challenge before us as Director developers is finding the
perfect balance of simplicity, reusability, functionality, user-friendliness,
developer-friendliness, and fiscal-friendliness. Rather than expecting any one
project to do this over-night we work together as a community to evolve our projects
and our own programming skill until we finally rise to this challenge. If this
is a challenge you are willing to take on, we would be happy to have you join
the Data Discovery Toolkit & Foundry and our Director Developer community.