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Lovely Walk Down Shockwave Nostalgia Lane

Woah! I found out today my old Shockwave projects can breathe again!

I cut my multimedia teeth in the 1990s on Macromedia Director. I was happy in the early part of that decade pounding around HyperCard and then came along a project (something to do with Study Skills) that required a lot of animation and there was this software box on the shelf that sounded promising.

I never produced or created as much in those Director days. It was the first time I fell into a full blown online social space, the Direct-L listserv (hey it still exists!). I still have some scarred flesh somewhere from some guy named G Gordon III at Virginia Tech who flamed my seriously. It took 3 months from that scorching before I felt okay to post.

But around that same time, 1994, I was excited at the hypertext potential of the early early barebones web. So after seeing my buddy Marvyn H create a public Director FTP site (the “shared cast” at Houston Community Colleges), I decided to open a public web site, the Director Web at Maricopa. (actually, when it started it was the Director Page).

At the time, Macromedia did not even have a corporate web site.

With some assistance of a sharp student programmer, we made some dynamic resources in perl, including a thing that subscribed to the listserv and made a simpler search. There was a guy somewhere that made a hack for Director content to play inside a web page (ow, sorry, those memory neuons are gone)

Anyhow, DirectorWeb got a lot of clicks in the 1990s. So when I had a trip to San Jose, I decided to write John Dowdell at Macromedia and arranged a visitРmade possible as an entr̩ because they knew about the DirWeb site. What a cool place it was- the big yellow sliding board. John asked if I wanted to try a new beta for something that would publish director content to be in a web page- this was the beta for shockwave, or as it was called then, Fried Green Director (published file names had a *.fgd suffix).

Getting in the door early was a huge gain, and I produced a lot of content in the 1990s and got to know Director in and out. I started assembling my projects in a place called Alan’s No Java Shop named because at the time a lot of people were saying Java was going to be the “thing” for web multimedia, and I thought not. This site not only contains the demo but also a “code snippet” as an example, and links to download the source files. I gave it all away and did not suffer and adverse effects, quite the opposite.

This long backstory is a round about. I moved on from Director around 2001 to do web only projects. And more recently, all of my shockwave content was not easily viewed because of lagging support of Shockwave software (it was eclipsed by the purchase of that little FutureSplash company that became Flash. Shockwave could not even be viewed on a Mac besides running it in Safari initiated in Rosetta mode– yeah that is clear. I gave up on the old content.

Then I got an email today from someone using one of my old sites and was having trouble. Of course, a web site at Maricopa is really not my concern, but I like to help.

And then I found out that in March 2008 Adobe (who swallowed Macromedia) had a new version of shockwave that would finally run native on the Intel Macs! Getting the right plugin was a Byzantine path, as the Adobe site still has references to Rosetta, and some of my projects used Xtras that require the full version of the plugin (around 50 Mb) rather than the slim installer. And the help documents for Windows was about 76 pages long. Good luck.

But today, for the first time in a long while I was able to see my Shockave content to play normally in Firefox!. I tried first the simple Correlation Meter

Correlation meter screen

a simple app to visualize the meaning of a correlation coefficient.

Then there was Negative Reinforcement University, one of the most complex things I made, a Myst like adventure game (of sorts)


Chuck Berry Pinky Action featured an animated guitar I programmed and my own wretched guitar playing.

Maricop-A-Sketch was hardly original, but involved some tricky programming and taught me some valuable techniques for coding rotating knobs.

Petals Around the Rose came from a real game I played at a retreat.

And a long time favorite for me was Ruby’s Art Pad a simple art generatio app named for an artistic elephant at the Phoenix Zoo.


I’m glad that the content on the No Java Shop is now hopefully more available, if anyone beside me cares. I learned so much in creation of this media and alos had some of my first tastes at the power of sharing your work.

It was an fun walk down memory lane today, and I am glad the flowers there still are blooming.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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