Technology Roundup: The Multimedia Campus: Graphics Tools for Teaching and Learning

IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer V 5
IBM WebSphere, available in both developer and enterprise versions, integrates various Web application development roles and software languages into one tool. By creating a single development environment, WebSphere allows users to create Web services from both new and existing software across multiple platforms, languages, applications, and vendors. The tool supports building J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) applications with HTML pages, servlets, Javaserver Page files, and Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) components. It allows users to create Web service applications with open standards and applications using wizards, code generators, and best practices. It also facilitates group collaboration and remote testing.

WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer supports Cobol, PL1, and EGL programming languages, bringing these into WebSphere via IBM's Eclipse platform, which permits multiple tools to be used through a single interface. In other words, several users can work with different languages under a single development environment. This could lower labor costs associated with integration by enabling organizations to modernize, reuse, and integrate existing assets written in older languages. Both the Application Developer and Enterprise Developer editions of WebSphere Studio Version 5 include support for J2EE, Linux, and emerging Web services standards. Contact: IBM Corp., White Plains, N.Y.; (888) 746-7426; www.ibm.com.

Macromedia MX
Studio MX is an integrated suite of open development tools for creating rich Internet applications. Studio MX, which includes Macromedia's Flash MX and ColdFusion MX, allows users to create graphics, lay out HTML pages, code application logic, build user interfaces, and assemble complete Web solutions. FlashMX works on the client side to deliver interactive interfaces that operate like applications. With Flash MX, users can import any standard video file supported by QuickTime or Windows Media Player, including MPEG, DV (Digital Video), MOV (QuickTime), and AVI. Users can manipulate, scale, rotate, skew, mask, and animate video objects, and make them interactive using scripting. Flash Player 6 now also dynamically loads external JPEG and MP3 media files during runtime, which results in smaller file sizes and easier content modification. ColdFusion MX works on the server side as middleware for deploying into J2EE environments. ColdFusion MX includes Macromedia's JRun application server, but Macromedia also supports the product for IBM's WebSphere and Sun's iPlanet. To tie Flash and ColdFusion together, Macromedia offers an architecture called Flash Remoting, a mix of open and proprietary standards that allow Flash clients to utilize remote components. This gateway delivers native ColdFusion services and generic Web services. The gateway handles proxy generation and data marshalling. Contact: Macromedia Inc., San Francisco, Calif.; (415) 252-2000; www.macromedia.com.

Windows Media Platform
Microsoft Corp. offers a "free" technology bundled into its Windows NT operating system that allows users to deploy online audio and video applications. The bundled streaming publishing tools are also downloadable as an add-on to the Microsoft Office suite. This backdoor strategy, designed to give Windows Media platform a pricing advantage over RealNetworks' competitive products, may appeal to cost-conscious consumers and organizations. The family of Windows Media products includes a player, audio, intelligent streaming, a producer component, and digital rights management. Media Player products are available for desktop and palm-sized hardware. Contact: Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.; (425) 882-8080; www.microsoft.com.

RealOne Enterprise Desktop and RealMedia Helix Producer Digital Production Tool
The RealOne Enterprise Desktop provides context to related rich media presentations in a dynamic, interactive, and customizable interface. A three-pane interface allows users to build their own media experience by navigating among media playback, contextual information, and a fully-functional embedded media browser. Designed for corporate use, the RealOne Enterprise Desktop d'es not include consumer entertainment components such as the radio tuner, jukebox, and channels. However, it adds productivity-enhancing tools such as TurboPlay, which accelerates playback of on-demand content; Smarter Networking with WPAD/Proxy Auto Configuration Support, special settings that ensure that all RealOne Enterprise Desktops can connect to business-related content at all times; and Homepage URL Customization, which configures the media browser's homepage URL. A Component Updating feature keeps everything within the firewall for privacy and security. The RealOne Desktop Manager allows administrators to configure and manage RealOne Enterprise Desktops over time. Real products are available for both Windows and Linux platforms.

Also from RealNetworks is Helix Producer Plus. Using RealMedia Events, users of Helix Producer Plus can synchronize multimedia presentations for playback within the RealOne Player. Helix Producer Plus is one of the key elements of the RealNetworks system based on the Helix platform, an integrated media-delivery system designed for Internet and corporate intranet users. With Helix Producer Plus, users can produce live or simulated live video and/or audio Web casts, on-demand audio and/or video, and synchronized multimedia. Contact: RealNetworks Inc., Seattle, Wash.; (206) 674-2700; www.realnetworks.com/solutions/enterprise.

Interactive Video Technologies Media Platform
Media Platform from Interactive Video Technologies is a Web-based product for creating, managing, and deploying rich-media Web pages. Media Platform allows users to integrate HTML editing, page layout, page design, and asset management. The built-in account manager and workflow controls enable organizations to collaborate on projects from anywhere on the Internet while controlling account access. The integrated deployment manager sends Web pages, video, and other assets to selected servers with the touch of a button. IVT also provides optional application hosting. Other features include highly customizable "form" and "polling" components that let audiences interact directly with a Webcast in real time and a recording feature that automatically records Web presentations for future on-demand viewing. Contact: Interactive Video Technologies Inc., New York, N.Y.; (212) 867-6416; www.ivtweb.com.

Eveo Publisher 2.0
Eveo, known for both its applications and services, is now offering an integrated suite of four applications—creation, asset management, deployment, and reporting. With a drag-and-drop interface and user-friendly toolbox for creating rich media and Web video presentations on the fly, Eveo Publisher 2.0 is designed to be simple to use. It also provides an intuitive media management system to upload, categorize, and manage assets; workflow and review functions to let users manage their brand and marketing assets centrally; and remote access for group collaboration. Once a rich media page is created, the user can view it and activate it with a mouse click either as a stand-alone Web page or an embedded e-mail. Tracking utilities can track streaming activity, user events, popularity, and other feedback. Publisher 2.0 is available as a hosted application or through enterprise licensing. Contact: Eveo Inc., San Francisco, Calif. (415) 749-6777; www.eveo.com.

sofTV.Presenter
sofTV.Presenter allows users to create online multimedia presentations without a great deal of technical know-how. According to sofTV.net, desktop users of PowerPoint can use sofTV.Presenter to create, record, synchronize, encode, and broadcast multimedia presentations. Users of sofTV.Presenter can produce audio or video streaming media with synchronized PowerPoint slides, import previously encoded streaming media files and synchronize PowerPoint slides, broadcast and control a live presentation, archive a presentation for on-demand video, and create navigation aids for viewers to use without interrupting the video flow. sofTV.Presenter works with Real and Windows Media formats. sofTV.Presenter includes a complete set of templates for customizing logos, pictures, and lecture information, as well as audio-only templates. Contact: sofTV.net Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; (613) 729-6400; www.softv.net.

Media 1st iNstruct Learning Platform
iNstruct features standard and optional content tools that allow users to produce video-powered instructional content. iNstruct's open standards platform allows it to deliver SCORM-compliant courseware using off-the-shelf authoring tools. Once published, a simple FTP process uploads the materials to Media 1st's servers. iNstruct is designed to cut costs through self-publishing and using existing software tools. Users simply import a video or audio file, Flash presentation, and any accompanying testing into the platform. Within minutes, iNstruct creates a video-driven course. Digitized video is encoded with a Windows Media file format so that it can be time-stamped and married to slides or test questions and answers. Contact: Media 1st, Atlanta, Ga; (888) 652-4417.

Corel Painter 7
Corel Painter 7 from Corel subsidiary Procreate is being touted as the ultimate natural-media painting tool for graphic designers and artists. The tool set in Painter offers an array of brushes, textures, canvas choices, and art materials to produce artistic subtleties of traditional media for high-quality output to print and the Web. The application, which was used with Adobe Photoshop to generate illustrations for designing costumes and characters in the movie Spiderman, uses next-generation brush-engine technology, with features including text along a curve, and the layering of vector and bitmap images together. Minimum system requirements are a Pentium 166Mhz Processor, 32MB RAM, 15-25MB available disk space, and 24-bit video. Contact: Corel Corp., Ottawa, Canada; (800) 772-6735; www.corel.com.

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