Generator is a server-side tool that dynamically creates data-driven graphics. Aside from Flash movies, Generator can also dynamically create GIFs (both animated and static), JPEGs, PNGs, QuickTime movies, and both Macintosh and PC Flash executables. It can be used for numerous tasks, but its main roles are to:
Dynamically create data-driven Flash movies (or other media). Data can be retrieved from just about any source, including text files, URLs, middleware, and databases.
Reduce file maintenance by enabling the automation of Flash dynamic content updates.
Speed Flash content development through the use of reusable templates and objects that allow the creation of complex Flash elements such as charts, tickers, and tables.
For our purposes, we are primarily interested in the first point.
Generator consists of three main tools:
Online Mode. Generator is accessed through a web server and dynamically creates data-driven media in real time (such as when the user requests the media).
Offline Mode. Generator is executed from a command line interface. This can be used in conjunction with batch files and/or shell scripts to automate Flash maintenance tasks, such as updating dynamic content.
Authoring Extensions. These come preinstalled with the Flash 5 authoring environment and allow the user to author Flash and Generator content using pre-built Generator objects that create complex Flash content. Even if the Generator server is not installed, the authoring extensions can be used to create static data-driven Flash files that include complex Flash elements, such as charts and tickers.
The authoring templates are available for all the platforms on which the Flash 5 authoring environment is available. They are not available for Flash MX.