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Lingo in a Nutshell by Bruce A. Epstein

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About This Book

You are holding in your hands one half of Bruce’s Brain in a Book. The other half of my brain is in the companion book, Director in a Nutshell. These books are the distillation of years of real-life experience with countless Director projects plus many hours spent researching and testing Director 6’s and 6.5’s new features. While they can be used separately, they are ideally used as a single two-volume reference, which can be purchased together for less than most single Director books.


Lingo in a Nutshell focuses on the abstract concepts in Lingo—variables, scripts, Behaviors, objects, mouse and keyboard events, timers, math, lists, strings, and file I/O. Director in a Nutshell focuses on the concrete aspects of Director—the Cast, the Score, Projectors, MIAWs, media (graphics, sound, digital video, text), Director’s windows, GUI components (buttons, cursors, menus) and Shockwave.

If you already know a lot about Director or have been disappointed by the existing documentation, these are the books you’ve been waiting for. They address many of the errors and omissions in Macromedia’s documentation and in many third-party books. There is no fluff or filler here, so you’ll miss a lot if you skim. We are both busy, so let’s get on with it.

What Are These Books and Who Are They for?

Director in a Nutshell and Lingo in a Nutshell are desktop quick references for Director and Lingo developers who are familiar with Director’s basic operation and need to create, debug, and optimize cross-platform Director and Shockwave projects. These books are concise, detailed, respectful of the reader’s intelligence, and organized by topic to allow quick access to thorough coverage of all relevant information.

Because Lingo and Director are inextricably linked, I have kept all information on a single topic within a single chapter rather than breaking it along the traditional Director versus Lingo lines (with the exception of the Using Xtras and Chapter 13 chapters). Don’t be fooled by the titles of the books; both include a lot of Lingo, and they should be read in parallel.

Director in a Nutshell should not be confused with the third-party books that merely rehash the manuals, nor should it be considered an introductory book. It is exceptionally valuable for non-Lingo users but also covers Lingo related to those aspects of Director mentioned previously. Lingo in a Nutshell covers both the very basics of Lingo and its most advanced features. It is for both new and experienced Lingo programmers, which may sound impossible but isn’t. Each book covers both Windows and the Macintosh.

To describe them as “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” would be misleading because they cover both the very basic foundation of Director and its very advanced usage. Strictly as a comparison to other books on the market, you should consider their coverage extremely advanced, but the text itself is accessible to Director users of all levels. Lingo in a Nutshell allows Director users to take full advantage of Lingo’s power, and Director in a Nutshell helps users of all levels deal confidently with the spectrum of Director’s media types and features.

What These Books Are Not

These books are not a rehash of the Director manuals or Help system but rather a complement to them; as such, they are unlike any other books on the market.

These books are not a celebration of Director as multimedia Nirvana. They are for people who know that Director has many quirks and some bugs and want to know how to work around them quickly and effectively.

These books are not courses in graphic design, project management, Photoshop, HTML, or JavaScript. They will, however, help you to integrate your existing skills and external content into Director’s framework.

These books are not a Director tutorial; I assume that you are familiar with the basics of Director’s Cast, Score, Stage, and menus. They are not for people who need hand-holding. They are for people who can apply general concepts to their specific problem and want to do so rapidly.

These books are not perfect—errors are inevitable—so use them as a guide, not the gospel. Although these books cannot anticipate all circumstances, they do provide the tools for you to confidently solve your specific problems, even in the face of erroneous or incomplete information.

Last, these books are not a static lecture. They are an ongoing conversation between you, the reader, and me, the author. Feedback from many customers, clients, and friends has already shaped their content. I have packed them with facts, but I also provide the tools to allow you to understand and debug any situation. Let us see if we can solve some problems in Director and learn something about ourselves along the way.

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