The Xtras that are integral to Director's operation are installed automatically when you install Director. You don't have to do anything further with them.
If you're like many Director users, however, you'll want to expand Director's capabilities by adding Xtras that didn't come with the program. In most cases, you'll find these Xtras through the Xtras page of Macromedia's Web site. (You can reach the Xtras page via a link on the main Director support page, www.macromedia.com/support/director.) On the Xtras page, you'll find links to the following resources:
A list of Xtras from third-party developers, with links to the developers' Web sites. (In most cases, you can download the Xtras from the developers' sites. Some are free; most are for purchase.)
A list of Xtra- related tech notes, including links to updated versions of Macromedia-supplied Xtras.
The Director Exchange (part of a site-with-in-a-site called Macromedia Exchange), where users can upload and download tips, hints, sample files, templates, andyesXtras. Some of the Xtras you'll find here were created by Macromedia developers, some by third-party developers, and some by amateurs. Some are free; some are not.
Any time you acquire a new Xtra, you have to install it manually. You must do this using the file-management features of your computer's operating system; you can't do it from within Director. (Some Xtra developers supply an automated installer file that allows you to install an Xtra in the same way you'd install an application.)
Many Xtras, once they are installed, will operate transparently that is, you don't have to do anything special to use them. For example, if you install a Lingo Xtra, the new commands or functions will automatically be available in Lingo; if you install a transition Xtra, the new transition will automatically be available in the Transition dialog box. (For descriptions of the various types of Xtras, see the "Types of Xtras" sidebar, earlier in this chapter.)
Using tool Xtras and cast-member Xtras may require extra steps, as described below. In general, it's a good idea to read the documentation file that comes with an Xtra to see how its developers intended it to be used.
If you use any non-Macromedia Xtras (other than tool Xtras) in the course of creating a movie, make note of the ones you used, because you'll have to supply those Xtras to users when you distribute the movie.
(See "Including Xtras with Projectors" and "Using Xtras with Shockwave Movies," later in this chapter.)
To install an Xtra:
If Director is running, choose File > Exit (Windows) or Director > Quit Director (Mac) to quit the program.
Find and open the Director MX application folder on your hard drive.
Drag the new Xtra into the Xtras folder inside the Director MX application folder ( Figure 19.2 ).
Figure 19.2. You install Xtraseither individually or in foldersby dragging them into the Xtras folder.
If the Xtra is already in a folder (along with other Xtras or supporting files), you can drag the entire folder into the Xtras folder. Director will recognize Xtras in folders-within-folders so long as they're not nested more than five levels deep.
The Xtra is installed and ready for you to use.
To use a tool Xtra:
Choose Xtras > Xtra name ( Figure 19.3 ).
Figure 19.3. The Xtras menu shows installed tool Xtras.
A custom dialog box appears ( Figure 19.4 ).
Figure 19.4. Each tool Xtra has its own unique dialog box. (Shown here is Macromedia's 3D SpeedPort Xtra, which converts 3D files in OBJ format to Director's native W3D format.)
Perform any desired tasks in the dialog box. (See the documentation that came with the Xtra for details.)
Click OK (or whatever the equivalent is in this particular Xtra) to close the dialog box.
To import a cast member by means of a cast-member Xtra:
Choose Insert > Media Element > Xtra name ( Figure 19.5 ).
Figure 19.5. Cast-member Xtras such as this one (PDF Xtra from Integration New Media, which allows Director to import PDF files) are listed under Media Element on the Insert menu.
An options dialog box appears ( Figure 19.6 ).
Figure 19.6. A dialog box allows you to set properties for the cast member you're about to import.
Set the properties for the cast member you're importing.
Click OK to close the dialog box.
The newly imported cast member appears in the Cast window ( Figure 19.7 ). You can use it in your movie just as you would use any other cast member.
Figure 19.7. A cast member imported via an Xtra appears in the Cast window, just like ordinary cast members .
The imported cast member may have additional properties you can set. To see them, select the cast member in the Cast window, then click the Cast Member Properties button. The properties will be displayed on a custom tab in the Property Inspector ( Figure 19.8 ).
Figure 19.8. Properties for a cast member imported via an Xtra will usually appear on a custom tab in the Property Inspector.
Double-clicking the cast member in the Cast window will have different effects depending on the Xtra that was used to import the cast member. In some cases, a media editor will open; in others, the properties dialog box (which you used in step 2, before the cast member was imported) will reopen.