Multimedia authoring system

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Over the last several years the stakes of state-of-the-art human computer interfaces have risen. New advances in audio and graphical hardware make possible multimedia applications. These applications incorporate some combination of graphics, text, hypermedia controls, animation and sound to produce an interface that presents information in a manner that takes advantage of human capabilities such as hearing and color vision. Such applications generally involve sophisticated hardware devices such as graphical terminals, digital audio and audio synthesizer devices, CD-ROM audio players, and video capture/overlay devices. A multimedia application is a piece of software that controls these various devices to coordinate and present information to a user based on the design of the application and input from the user. This report is about multimedia authoring systems: programs and collections of utilities that allow the creation of multimedia applications. The intent of this report is to determine the features and abilities desirable for a multimedia authoring system (and the multimedia applications created) and to look at several real world examples of such authoring systems. Over the course of researching this report four authoring systems were examined and will be used in this discussion. The systems examined can be considered a sampling of authoring systems available for the DOS, DOS/WINDOWS and OS/2 environments. These systems were: Storyboard Live from International Business Machines (IBM) for DOS, Audio Visual Connection from IBM for OS/2, Toolbook (with MediaBlitz multimedia extensions) from Asymetrix Corporation for the Windows 3.1 environment, Linkway from IBM for DOS. The authoring systems were "put through their paces" by implementing the same multimedia application under each. The intent was to examine their usability, flexibility and capabilities for exactly the same application. This provided a basis for evaluating the authoring systems against each other and provided actual experience using the authoring systems for determining desirable features. This report is divided into several section concentrating on various parts of the project and different concepts of multimedia authoring systems. Sections included are: An overview of some of the desirable features for and goals of multimedia authoring systems, A discussion of the specific multimedia application implemented for this project, Discussion and evaluation of each multimedia authoring system used in the project, A more detailed examination of some concepts for multimedia authoring systems including overall structuring of applications and hardware independence, Summary and conclusions about multimedia authoring systems. Appendix B contains more information about the application and Appendix C details how to install and run the application under each multimedia authoring environment. Appendices D and E show examples of code used with various authoring systems. Appendix F details some of the specific problems encountered using each authoring system. A glossary of technical terms used in this report is included as Appendix A.