Like one of those kitchen gadgets advertised on late-night TV ”"It's a grinder! It's a grater! It's a slicer!" ”Director can be made to do nearly anything, depending on what add-ons you attach to it ( Figure 19.1 ). In Director's case, the add-ons come in the form of software modules called Xtras .
Figure 19.1. Spell checking in Director? A third-party Xtra (in this case, Speller4 from Design Lynx Ltd.) makes it possible.
Xtras allow Director to import diverse cast-member types, link to networks and external files, expand its scripting vocabulary, add special effects, and handle a variety of other tasks . (See the sidebar "Types of Xtras" on the following page.) Xtras are integral to Director's design ”so much so that when Macromedia developers add features to Director, they often don't tinker with the program's code; they simply add another Xtra.
Dozens of Xtras were copied to your hard drive when you installed Director. Every time you create a vector shape, embed a font, format text, or perform many other seemingly basic tasks, it's not Director itself doing the work, but an Xtra. These Macromedia-supplied Xtras function behind the scenes, without your necessarily even knowing they exist.
But the writing of Xtras isn't confined to Macromedia developers. Lots of third-party developers also create Xtras, which you can download from the Web and install in Director. If you have programming skills, you can even write Xtras yourself.
This chapter will show you how to install and work with Xtras, and how to make sure the people to whom you distribute your movies have the Xtras they need to view the movies properly.