Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Authorware v.s Flash MX

People often want to know what are the relative strengths of each tool. Following is a sample of the many conversations on the macromedia.authorware newsgroup:

[1] Utilizing identical content, activities and questions (including format of activities and questions), which platform is a more efficient development platform and why?

Identical content? Identical is not really going to happen, but "equivalent" is close enough. Authorware is the better tool for the development of training - it has been designed for that task and has many features that make the job easier and faster than with Flash.

[2] If a team develops the same course with the same content, activities and questions, utilizing the same graphics, animations, audio and video, which is more bandwidth efficient. Why?

Essentially they are the same. 10Mb of data is 10Mb of data, regardless of whether it is Flash or AW. Exactly how the user experiences it will vary according to the skill of the developer and the speed of network connection. Both tools make it possible to stream content and to preload (OK, AW does not actually stream, but it appears to from the user perspective) .

[3] What are the advantages of each platform? Where does each platform excel?

There is a lot to say, but in short :-

• Flash does cool vector graphics, Authorware does not.
• Flash is true OOP, Authorware is not.
• Flash has players for several platforms, Authorware for just two - Mac and PC, although anywhere you can run a Windows emulator you can run Authorware content. Whilst Flash has all these players, in reality many of the players are not up to date. Some only support Flash 5 - or even Flash 4.
• Authorware has access to the Windows API, U32, Xtras and DLLs for extensability. Flash does not.
• Authorware can read/write/move/copy, generally manipulate files on the user's machine, Flash cannot.
• You can play almost any media inside Authorware, including Flash. You cannot do the same with Flash - in particular you cannot play Authorware files in Flash.
• Flash has sickly internal video support, and can play external Mp3s and Jpegs.
• Authorware can play most movie and audio formats, and media of any type (just about) can be external for Authorware.
• Authorware is designed from the ground up as a training tool.

I have not covered all of the pros and cons. More detail is available from Macromedia's own site and from numerous public discussions.

No comments: