Re: Authorware vs...? (long message)

Subject: Re: Authorware vs...? (long message)
From: "Karen Carruthers" <kcarruthers -at- exactis -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2000 09:45:42 -0700

Hi all,

I've used the latest versions of Authorware, Director, and Robohelp to
create interactive training materials. I prefer Director above all of them.
If you are familiar with Robohelp and Word you should be able to create some
very basic tutorials, but you will be very limited if you want to do
anything fancy.

Authorware has a pretty high learning curve and in some cases can be cost
prohibitive depending on number of users etc. You need to keep in mind
deadlines and expectations. If your company wants a quick turn around on a
product tutorial and you've never used Authorware...this is not that road to
take. (Trust me on this one) The product is not intuitive and although the
tech support available from Macromedia is good, it's not worth it. Another
thing to keep in mind is the longevity of the product in Macromedia's eyes.
Macromedia's focus is Shockwave and web (as evidenced by the 1999 UCON,
Macromedia's annual user conference). Even Director (their flagship product)
is slowly being replaced by the web tools. Director will be around a lot
longer than Authorware and Macromedia is incorporating "Authorware-esque"
features into the newest versions. Authorware will not be around for long.

Director is by far the most versatile tool available from Macromedia. There
are many extras (XTRAS) available to add additional functionality, but for
tutorials and training materials you really don't need any of them. It
allows you to easily create products for CD or Web. The learning curve is
manageable and certainly less than Authorware. I taught myself basic
Director and Lingo in two weeks and completed a major project in three
months. Lingo is Director's programming language and although it's helpful
to know, it isn't required. Macromedia has packaged behaviors to allow you
to do most anything you need. Also, Director easily handles a variety of
graphic, audio and video formats.

My best advice is to look at what your eventual goal is and decide the best
tool for the job. Look long term, and look at expectations. There are
several mailing lists for both Authorware and Director and the sites allow
you to scan the archives. Take a look at some of the issues users are
hitting. I can tell you that I stopped using Authorware and unsubscribed
from the list (yes, it was possible <grin>) because I found that I could do
everything I wanted in Director by learning some basic lingo.

Hope this helps,
Karen Carruthers
Senior Technical Writer, Inc.

Subject: Authorware vs...? (long message)
From: tbeverly -at- creativesolutions -dot- com
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 7:38:30
X-Message-Number: 34

I work in a department of about fifteen technical writers, and we're
beginning to investigate software for the authoring of tutorials that would
ship with CDs of our software. Much of what we've seen is pushing us toward
Authorware, but some very important questions have arisen, and we need help
to decide whether Authorware will work for us, or if there is something
else that might better suit our needs.

We will have some time to learn the software, but there may be several of
us who will need to learn it. None of us are programmers. We work primarily
with tools like RoboHelp and Word. We need to use detailed screen shots. We
might have limited access to graphics people. Given these circumstances,
here are my questions...though geared toward Authorware, I would be
interested in answers from the perspective of other applications.

--Can a writer produce a professional-looking tutorial in Authorware
without programming proficiency? How would the lack of such proficiency
limit us? (We may have some access to programmers too, in the off-season.)

--I read everywhere about Authorware's steep learning curve, and that six
to eight months may be required for learning it. Is it that bad?

--Does Authorware require vector graphics (as Macromedia Flash seems to) or
does it work well with bitmaps and other basic formats?

--How does sound work in Authorware? What sound format(s) does the
application support? What hardware, software and/or plug-ins must a user
have to hear sound?

--How would Authorware's cost compare with that of other applications,
especially considering that there may be seven to fifteen licenses needed
for authoring?

--Is Authorware a product that will allow us to expand into other areas
(Web demos and/or tutorials, etc.)?

Thanks in advance for any responses. I'd also be interested in knowing
people's overall impressions of the latest release of Authorware and of
other CBT and WBT authoring tools.

Tom Beverly
Technical Communications
Creative Solutions
tbeverly -at- creativesolutions -dot- comKaren Carruthers
Senior Technical Writer, Infobeat
phone: 303-942-4709

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