In the mid-1990s, when the Web replaced CD-ROMs as the primary means for delivering multimedia content, Macromedia saw both a problem and an opportunity. The problem was that the Web demanded quickly downloadable, low-overhead files, which Director movies certainly were not. The opportunity was that the Web at that time was a basically static environment that cried out for the kinds of movement, richness, and interactivity that were Macromedia's specialty.
Macromedia responded by developing Shockwave technology, which allowed Director movies to be compressed, streamed over the Internet, and played back transparently by means of a plug-in in the user 's Web browser. At the same time, Macromedia hedged its bet by acquiring a simple, third-party product that came to be named Macromedia Flash. Flash could do some of the same things Director could do, but had been designed from the beginning to meet the demands of the Web.
Flash rose quickly in popularity. For developers, it offered a streamlined interface and the ability to create amazingly tiny files. For Web users, it offered a browser plug-in that was much smaller and faster to download than the Shockwave player required by Director. As Flash became more and more popular, Macromedia added more and more features to it ”most significantly ActionScript, a scripting language that eventually acquired many of the same capabilities as Director's Lingo. The unfortunate result was that Macromedia now had two products with a largely overlapping feature set, and developers had no clear-cut way to decide whether to develop a project in Director or Flash.
Why would anyone want to use Director?
If you're developing exclusively for the Web, it probably makes sense to use Flash and the other MX Studio applications. But if you plan to use other distribution channels ”either instead of or in addition to the Web ”Director can still do a lot of things that Flash can't: