Java Software Reviews
Could it actually be? Creating Java applets without the programming? Well, the people at Power Production Software seem to think that this would be a boon to the non-coding masses that want to use the power of Java, yet circumvent learning a programming language. The product of this revelation is WebBurst, and if you want to easily and quickly create interaction between you and John Q. Webuser, this might just be the ticket.
Installation of the software takes up only 2MB of your cherished hard drivespace, and only a few moments of your time. Thanks to a great little manual and an easy to comprehend tutorial, you will grasp the fundamentals of the program in a matter of minutes. The easy-to-use, intuitive interface allows one who is design, rather than programming-oriented to jump right and get started. The display consists of a menu bar, an applet frame window, library and color palettes, action control, object and main tool bars, and a message window. The applet frame window is the heart of the display, where you drag and drop picture and sound files to put together your applet. Importable file formats include graphic files in PICT (w/ alpha channel,) PICT series, GIF, series GIF, animated GIF, PICS and TEXT, and audio files in AIFF and SND. In a pinch, you can also use the drawing tools in the main toolbar to create new content.
Once your files are in the window, the action control palette allows you to activate and experiment with almost any action or condition that Java allows, assigning behaviors such as animation paths, actions in the form of stern or stop sounds and animations, hide/show options, links, conditional branching and data fields. The library palette, which gives you instant access to your artwork, is easy to create; dragging and dropping a folder of images on to the applet frame window creates a grid which can contain up to 120 images. These libraries save disk space, being stored only once, regardless of how many times the images are accessed in your project. You can also substitute an image on the grid, and retain the attributes that were applied to the previous image.
Once you're satisfied with its action, you then proceed to the file option "export to Java-powered applet." This is where the true power and ease of WebBurst becomes apparent. Without any further efforts on your part, all of your interactivity is translated to Java byte code, the images saved as compressed GIFs, and the sound files to AU format. To view your handiwork, just drag and drop the resulting HTML page onto your Java-enabled browser (Netscape, Internet Explorer) and "thar she blows!".
Overall, WebBurst is a great program for a designer who has better things to do than learn code. Yet it is also powerful enough for programmers who want to quickly create a Java applet and retain the ability to tweak code. In their inimitable wisdom, Power Production has also included in the WebBurst package a "back door," in the form of an API that allows a programmer to write any Java code and run it as a WebBurst applet. The list price is $299.00, but it is being sold for as low as $199.00. WebBurst version 1.2 is a Mac-only product, but the forthcoming 2.0 version will be cross-platform for Mac and Windows 95/NT with enhanced image, text, and sound integration. Other features will include the ability to use Adobe Photoshop plug-ins, more powerful animation control, a new asset vault maker, more interactivity control, optimized instant Java output, more built-in CGI functionality, and easier to implement database connectivity.
John Parazette-Tillar has a background in multimedia graphic design. He studied at the American Film Institute and Cal State Long Beach. He has been known to dream digitally, and can make any pixel "Twist and Shout!" When not joined at the hip to his workstations, he can be found hangin' at the park with his understanding wife, Kate, and his unusually cool son, Zachary.