In my work, I've had many occasions where I needed to perform utility tasks such as:
  • checking for the existence of a network,
  • running external applications and files,
  • determining free disc space,
  • setting the master system volume, and
  • opening and closing the CD/DVD tray.
I was impressed to find that I could carry out all of these tasks through {mdm} Script.

The Zinc help files are well organised, and made it very easy for me to get started. I worked through several tutorials that walked me through some of the more complicated tasks such as connecting to databases and creating extensions from existing DLLs.  I found that the {mdm} Script API section includes good explanations as well as sample code that demonstrates the use of each class, its methods and properties.

As a busy developer and author, I can't afford to spend a lot of time learning to use new products. I found it refreshing to be able to incorporate Zinc into my existing workflow so effortlessly.

The support provided with Zinc is good. In addition to the comprehensive help files, there is a large support section at http://www.multidmedia.com/support/. This part of the web site offers video tutorials, techNotes, articles and case studies, and support forums.

To show you how easy it is to get started with Zinc, I'll walk through a simple example. I'll add a browser window to a Flash application and control the page displayed within it using a drop down list. The interface consists of a ComboBox component loaded with three site names. The data property for each item in the ComboBox is its URL.

My code consists of the following lines:

var theBrowser = new mdm.Browser(10, 100, 530, 280,"http://www.multidmedia.com/", true);
var siteListener:Object = new Object();
siteListener.change = function(evtObj:Object):Void {
   theBrowser.goto(evtObj.target.selectedItem.data);
}
sites_cbo.addEventListener("change", siteListener);


The first line creates a new mdm.Browser object and loads the MDM URL. The remaining lines create a change handler function that uses the goto method of the mdm.Browser object to load the selected URL. That's all there is to it!

The following screen shot shows what happens when I publish the SWF file and build a Projector with Zinc.



I get a browser within my Projector file that I can control by choosing a value from the ComboBox component. It was very easy to achieve this functionality with only two lines of {mdm} Script in the Flash file.

I encountered one problem in this simple example. I had to position the browser object below the ComboBox component because it appears at a higher depth and masks the drop down section of the ComboBox. It wasn't immediately obvious from the help files how to address this issue so I'd need to look for a depth management solution in Flash or search through the support section at the MDM web site.

If you want to find out more about Zinc, I suggest that you download a free trial version of the software from http://www.multidmedia.com/software/zinc/trial/. Zinc 2.5 costs £149.99, 229.99€ or US$299.99. This is expensive if all you're looking for is a software package that skins Projectors, or creates Screen Savers and Installers. However, it's terrific value when you consider the additional features that Zinc can add to a product like Flash. I can't wait to start using Zinc 2.5 in my work!

Sas Jacobs
Principal
Anything Is Possible
http://www.aip.net.au
Author: Foundation XML for Flash