Useful Free Xtras

This article hilights a selection of free Xtras that we at Lingoworkshop have used or played with and consider pretty useful. It is not an exhaustive list of all useful Xtras (search the Mile-High Table O'Products does that), only the free ones we have used and have had some first-hand experience with. Also note that with only a few exceptions, most Xtras listed here are dual-platform (Director is a cross-platform development tool, so preference is given to dual-platform Xtras).

Also note that the free Xtras outlined in the 'Essential Xtras', including PregEx, FileXtra and PropSave, aren't repeated here.

Multiuser Xtra

The multiuser Xtra used to be included and installed with Director, but was (for some strange reason) 'discontinued' by Macromedia when the Shockwave Multiuser Server (SMUS) was dropped. With Director MX2004, it can be found in the 'Goodies' folder on the CD.The Xtra has many uses (not all of which of which actually need the SMUS server), including:

  • Sending email
  • Peer-to-peer connections
  • Text based server connections (see, for example, this shockwave 'ftp client')
  • Control windows and other applications

PDFCreator Xtra

Sometimes you want to save files - such as a report of the user's activities or achievements. Sometimes, simple text or RTF format is a good choice. Other times, you might want to export CSV files for importing into excel, or XML for importing into a database. Other times, the best option is to create nicely formatted PDFs for the user (they print well, and are a little more difficult for the avarage punter to tamper with). Valentin Schmidt's PDF Creator Xtra is a wrapper around the PDFLib library and will allow you to create PDFs from within Director. Unfortunately, it is Windows only (when I last checked), but Valentin also has some lingo-only scripts that should work on a Mac.

Where to get it

Shell Xtra

Valentin Schmidt's Shell Xtra let you execute a commandline program from the Mac OS X (bash) shell and command Windows interpreter (cmd.exe for Win2k/WinXP, command.com for Win 9x) and returns the result (stdout and stderr). With this Xtra, your projector can do almost anything the shell can do.

Where to get it

BinFile Xtra

Valentin Schmidt's free BinFile Xtra is a free cross-platform xtra for binary file read/write operations. With this xtra, you can read MP3s, PDFs, bitmaps, tweak the data, and write out the result.

Where to get it

Clipboard Xtra

Getting Director to behave like a normal application is a bit like dressing an elephant in a tutu and hoping it will be graceful enough to join the Russian Ballet. Valentin Schmidt's free Clipboard Xtra does help a little, though. One of the most common ways users transfer data around the place is by cutting and pasting and Valentin's Clipboard Xtra lets you access all the contents of the clipboard.

Where to get it


Sharp Image Export Xtra

An Xtra for exporting bitmap castmembers as JPG/PNG/BMP/PICT files.

Where to get it


 

First published 19/03/2006