Getting started developing multimedia software applications can seem intimidating at first, especially if you’re not coming from a computer programming background. Even if you are familiar with common programming languages like C++, Delphi and Microsoft Visual Basic, developing interactive multimedia software means some very unique challenges.
There are many different software development tools that you can use, but very few are suited to the task of multimedia authoring. You want a development environment that makes it easy to combine multiple types of media into a single application. For example, a specialized multimedia software development tool like AutoPlay Media Studio, will allow you to simply drag and drop images, music, video, Adobe Flash, HTML, text and interactive control objects right onto a blank page or “canvas”, and then arrange the layout using your mouse.
Traditional programming languages can be used to build multimedia applications, but you’ll have to invest a large amount of time into learning how to adapt them to the task at hand. You’ll find that you spend a lot of timing struggling to reinvent the wheel, such as dealing with low-level graphics, handling video playback formats and streaming multiple audio channels. Don’t waste your time figuring all of these things out from scratch. You’d be much better off picking an appropriate development system that can handle these things right out of the box.
There are also a variety of tools that are suitable for making multimedia animations and simple applets, but aren’t particularly well suited for developing full software applications. I put products like Adobe Flash into that category. Flash is a fantastic tool for making website content, short videos and mini applications, but it’s really not suited for building desktop multimedia applications. You should instead look for a tool that can incorporate “bits” of Flash into your application for effect, and then extend that into a full professional software application.
Creating the visual interface to your application is the first step in multimedia software development, but that’s just the beginning. You’re going to want to tie together all of those visual elements into an interactive software product. For example, if you have a button on your application screen that says “Install Software”, you need a way to hook in the logic and events that make that button do something! A good multimedia software development tool will make this extremely easy on you, the programmer.
Whether you’re making an autorun CD / DVD menu system, a database front-end or a software training application, the basic process is the same. There is an “object” like a “button” that has “events” like “Mouse Click” associated with it. When that event occurs, the program will execute a particular sequence of actions, or a “script”. What that script does should be totally in your control. For example, AutoPlay Media Studio has a library of over 750 functions that you can use, including running programs, sending email, copying files, parsing XML data and much more. The more actions you have at your disposal, the faster you can create your software applications without having to develop any custom code.
Once your application has been developed, you’re going to want to distribute your software to your customers. That’s sometimes the most complicated step in the process. If you use a product like Visual Basic, you may have dozens of ActiveX controls, OCX controls or other addons and libraries that need to be distributed as well. Keeping track of them all can be a real headache. On the other hand, products like AutoPlay Media Studio generate a single-file executable, without any external dependencies. Additionally, it can burn your application right to an AutoPlay CD-ROM or DVD-ROM that will autorun as soon as your customer inserts it into their computer. Alternatively, if you distribute your software from your website, you can just upload that single autorun.exe to your site and your customers can download it directly. No software installation or setup wizard required!
Getting started with multimedia software development can be difficult if you choose the wrong programming tools, but if you do your research and choose an appropriate agile software development tool, you’ll be able to rapidly create professional multimedia software applications in no time.