(Last substantive change to this page made July 31, 1997)
Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus
Productions. All Rights Reserved.
Please consult the following list for answers to the most common pre-sales
questions regarding zLaunch, as well as additional technical information
not covered on the zLaunch Summary Page. Refer
to our Needs Analysis FAQ to determine if zLaunch
or some other tool is right for you.
General Questions About zLaunch
zLaunch is a utility that allows you to launch
other executables seamlessly from Director. It also allows you to quit Director,
launch an executable, and then restart Director when the launched executable
completes. This lets you run demos even in low RAM situations, and eliminates
conflicts between applications. Furthermore, zLaunch covers the Macintosh
or Windows desktop while your executable is running.
Q. What is zLaunch and why would I use it?
Consult the zLaunch Summary Page for a synopsis
of zLaunch's functionality, and refer to our Needs
Analysis FAQ to determine if zLaunch or some other tool is right for
Q. Is zLaunch available for both Mac and Windows?
Yes. zLaunch for Windows
has been shipping since April 1996 and zLaunch for
Macintosh since June 1996, but they are sold separately. Both are mature
and robust products with a number of user-controllable options for maximum
flexibility. zLaunch for Macintosh is a FAT
application that works with both 68K
Macs and PowerMacs. zLaunch
for Windows includes both 16-bit
and 32-bit version together
for one price (for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 respectively).
Q. How much does zLaunch cost?
zLaunch is $299 US for one platform (Mac
or Win), or $499 for both platforms. Consult the zLaunch
Summary Page for details.
Q: Is there a demo version available?
Demo versions of both zLaunch for Macintosh
and zLaunch for Windows are available in our Download
Due to frequent updates, it is impractical to create demo versions as quickly
as we would like. Sometimes the demo version is one or two revisions behind
the release version. If for some reason the demo version does not perform
the desired task, contact Zeus Productions
to find out if the release version offers any improvements. Remember, there
is a Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee,
so you can try any of our products, including zLaunch,
Q: How do I order zLaunch?
You can order zLaunch direct from Zeus Productions
by phone or by fax. Consult our Ordering
Page for details.
Q. What are the licensing requirements?
Is zLaunch Royalty-Free?
. The licensing requirements are very similar
to the "Made with Macromedia" requirements that govern the distribution
of Director projectors, except that you are limited in the number of royalty-free
run-time distributions allowed. In general, you must include the Zeus logo
and copyright information on your credit screen, and on your packaging.
zLaunch is royalty-free, and you are entitled to use it for five (count
'em 5) projects per 5-pack purchased. That's less than $60 per title ($50
per title if you buy a ten-pack). Each of the five run-time distribution
licenses allows you to distribute zLaunch with an unlimited number of copies
of a single product, such as a CD. See our licensing
information for details. If you intend to release more than five
(5) projects, contact Zeus Productions regarding discounts on larger licenses.
A single CD generally counts as one "project" regardless of how
many copies of the CD you distribute.
Consult the Licensing Information
page and Licensing FAQ or
download the licensing agreement.
Q. What benefits does zLaunch offer over Lingo's built-in
zLaunch offers numerous improvements over
open command, but
its primary advantage is the ability to run external application even
in low RAM situations, and reduce conflicts. Consult the zLaunch
Summary Page for a synopsis of zLaunch's Benefits
It is our policy is to never oversell
a customer. We recommend that you try Lingo's
command first. If you have not had any problems with the
command, then it may be adequate for your needs. You can also pass a document
name to open using the "
syntax. Refer to our Needs Analysis FAQ to determine
if zLaunch or some other tool is right for you.
Q. What is the sequence when launching an application with zLaunch?
How does the user exit the application and restart the projector?
zLaunch performs these operations in sequence
(each step is also optional):
When you start zLaunch, you pass it a series of parameters to control its
- zLaunch covers the desktop with a black window (color is user-definable)
- zLaunch waits for the Projector to terminate
- zLaunch launches the specified application with an optional document
- zLaunch waits for the launched application to terminate
- zLaunch restarts your Projector
- zLaunch waits for the Projector to start up and dismisses the cover
The launched application may be self-terminating, such as a Lotus ScreenCam
demo, or the user may quit the program at their discretion. Be sure to provide
a quit or exit button, or warn the user before starting the application
that they must quit it to return to the main projector.
Q: What versions of Director are supported by zLaunch?
Because zLaunch must survive outside Director,
zLaunch is not an Xtra, it is a standalone application, and therefore works
not only with Director 6, but also with Director 5 (revision 5.0.1 recommended)
and even Director 4 (revision 4.0.4 required).
Q: Is zLaunch an Xtra?
Technically zLaunch is not an Xtra.
zLaunch must survive outside Director in order to remain in memory
after Director quits, and is therefore a standalone
application. zLaunch is called
via Lingo from within Director, as an Xtra would be, and is as easy to use
as an Xtra.
Q: Does zLaunch work with other tools such as Authorware and AMT?
zLaunch is a standalone executable that is
not specific to Director. All the documentation and examples focus on using
it from Director, but there is no reason that it cannot run from other authoring
You will need to use your tool's equivalent of Lingo's "open...with"
command, which is used to start zLaunch and pass it parameters. Consult
your tool's documentation for a way to open an external executable and pass
Before purchasing zLaunch for use with another authoring tool, you should
download the demo version from our Download
page, and try it out for yourself. Contact Technical Support if you
have additional questions.
Q: Is zLaunch easy to use?
We strive to make our products as easy to
use, and provide excellent examples and documentation as well as World-Class
Technical Support. One customer reports that he implemented
zLaunch in seven minutes, but that is obviously an extreme example.
In most cases, it should not take more than a few hours to implement.
zLaunch is used in many scenarios and Zeus Productions can not guarantee
its suitability for your particular use. Allow time to debug any conflicts
between Director and the launched application.
zLaunch itself is not difficult to use for someone who is familiar with
Lingo scripting. If you are a novice Director programmer, you should allow
Invariably, multimedia projects are behind schedule. If you are in last-minute
panic mode (and who isn't?), please be sure to discuss your particular requirements
with a sales representative before ordering.
Q. How is zLaunch initiated from Director, and how do I pass it parameters?
zLaunch is an external application itself,
so it is actually initiated with using Lingo's "
command.. This starts zLaunch and gives you the opportunity to pass it the
parameters that control its execution. The general syntax is:
open parameters with zLaunch
Q. Is the calling sequence for zLaunch identical on the Macintosh and
Due to the intrinsic differences in the two
operating systems, zLaunch for Mac and Windows accept similar, but not identical
parameters. Also, as zLaunch evolves on both platforms, the features may
not correspond exactly.
On both the Macintosh and Windows, you specify the name of the application
to launch, and the name of the projector to re-launch once the first application
terminates, plus some parameters to control the program flow.
Complete examples are provided with the documentation for both platforms.
Refer to the Macintosh-Specific zLaunch FAQ and
Windows/PC-Specific zLaunch FAQ for more details.
Q. What is your upgrade policy?
We always try to give our customers value
for their dollar. Minor upgrades are available at a nominal cost, and discounts
are offered on major upgrades. Consult our Policies
page for details on our upgrade
Our products comes with thorough documentation
and Lingo examples which include everything you need to know. Further assistance
is provided via TechNotes and FAQs
on our web site. An intermediate Lingo developer should be able to handle
Q. Will Zeus Productions write the code to make my applications work with
zLaunch? What about Examples, Documentation and Technical Support?
Zeus Productions offers World-Class Technical
Support. to registered users. If you prefer for Zeus Productions to
write your Lingo for you, Custom Development
Services are available at an extra charge.
Q. What if zLaunch does not meet my needs? Is there a return policy?
If your application fulfills the criteria
discussed within this FAQ, there is a high probability that it will work
If you have been unable to get it to work, contact our World-Class
Tech Support, as the problem is most likely caused by an error in the
parameters being passed to zLaunch. It is also possible that the latest
version of zLaunch may include additional features or options to address
Consult our Policies page for details
on our Return Policy.
Q. Are there any known bugs?
The product is very stable, and we continue
to upgrade and improve it on an ongoing basis. We immediately address any
bugs brought to our attention within the currently supported feature set,
which is not to say that zLaunch contains every possible feature or works
in every possible circumstance. Be sure that you have the latest version
of zLaunch, as it may well address your requirements. Consult our Policies
page for details on our philosophy
and policy on bugs.
Refer to our Tech Alerts for the latest information.
Q: When the launched application exits, and zLaunch restarts the Projector,
is the user returned to the same location/frame in the DIR or DXR file from
which they left?
You ordinarily quit the projector to free
up RAM for the launched application. If you have sufficient RAM available
to leave both the projector and external application open simultaneously,
you can use zScript for Macintosh or zOpen
for Windows instead, which will maintain your location within Director
while the other application runs.
When using zLaunch, after the launched application terminates, zLaunch can
re-start the Projector. Projectors can only start at their beginning, but
you can restore the prior location as demonstrated in the example Director
file that accompnaies zLaunch. The example stores the frame number and movie
name in a text file using FileIO and
restores them when your projector restarts. This is the most effective way
to restart a projector from some point other than the beginning.
As an alternative, you could conceivably create a second stub
projector that use "go frame x of movie y" to restart your
projector in a different frame, but this requires you to create more than
one projector unnecessarily. Furthermore, it is problematic on the Macintosh,
where the name of the projector is required as a parameter to zLaunch (since
the projector name changes, the subsequent calls to zLaunch must change,
and it gets messy)
In either case, note that you must also save and retrieve the state of global
variables, lists, objects
or other data structures used by your projector. Refer to the TechNote
"Restoring your Projector's State".
Q. How much RAM does zLaunch require?
zLaunch has a very small RAM
footprint, less than 256K on Macintosh and Windows. You will need sufficient
RAM for the larger of your projector or external executable, plus the RAM
for zLaunch. This is usually substantially less RAM than would be required
to keep both the Projector and external executable open simultaneously,
as is needed with Lingo's
Q. Does zLaunch introduce a delay when launching other applications?
zLaunch does not introduce any additional
significant delay. You can control the delay to reduce conflicts between
Director and the external application. An external application may take
a while to launch, but it should be no longer than it would take from the
Finder or Program
Your projector will also need to be reloaded when it is restarted by zLaunch.
Refer to the TechNote, "Optimizing
Load Times" for hints on faster loading projectors.
If you prefer not to wait for the projector to reload, and have sufficient
RAM, zLaunch allows you to leave the projector running. Windows users would
most likely be better off with zOpen for Windows
in this case.
zLaunch does not require a formal installation
procedure. Simply include zLaunch and one or more configuration files in
the same folder as your Projector. You can run it from either a hard drive
or a CD. There is no need to copy it into the Windows System
directory, System Folder, or similar requirement.
Q. What needs to be installed to run zLaunch? Can it run from a CD?
Q: What types of Projectors will zLaunch work with? Can it launch both
native and non-native applications?
zLaunch works with all the possible permutations
on 68K Macs and PowerMacs,
Windows 3.1 and Windows
95. zLaunch supports the following for both Director 4.0.4 and Director
5.0.1 See the zLaunch for Windows and zLaunch
for Macintosh FAQs for more details.
- Mac 68K - Launches 68K or FAT
application from 68K or FAT projectors.
- PowerMac - Launches 68K, PowerMac or FAT application from 68K, PowerMac
or FAT projectors.
- Windows 3.1 - Launches 16-bit
applications from 16-bit
- Windows 95 - Launches 16-bit or 32-bit
applications from 16-bit or 32-bit
- 16-bit projectors using Director version 6 (also supports 4.0.4 and
- 32-bit projectors using Director version 6 (also supports 5.0.1) under
zLaunch works with the vast majority of applications,
and it will launch any application that can be started with the Lingo
Q. Can zLaunch launch any Windows or Mac application, including an installer?
command, and some that can not. zLaunch can launch an installer, but if
the installer causes the machine to reboot, zLaunch will obviously not be
able to restart the projector. (However, the example that comes with zLaunch
demonstrates how to save the user's position in the projector. In that case,
the next time the user starts your projector, it will pick up where it left
off, even if there was a reboot in the meantime.) zLaunch also will not
work with an installer that kills other running applications, as this would
Consult the zLaunch for Windows and zLaunch
for Macintosh FAQs for more details.
You can even use zLaunch to launch an installer, and then to launch the
newly installed program. In this case, zLaunch would not return to the original
Q. What types of applications will not work with zLaunch?
zLaunch works with a wide variety of applications
without modification. If for some reason zLaunch does not work with your
application, zLaunch offers a Money-Back
zLaunch may not work with:
Unlike the Lingo
- Installers which force the user to reboot. The reboot will occur,
and zLaunch will not be active any longer to restart Director
- Installers or other applications which terminate all other running
processes. If the installer kills zLaunch, it will not be active any longer
to restart Director.
- Some applications that spawn other applications (see explanation below)
open command, zLaunch waits for the launched
application to terminate, and re-launches the projector after this occurs.
Some applications are just front
ends to a secondary executable. They immediately spawns the secondary
process, and then quit. The primary
application is terminated, but the secondary process continues to run. In
this case, zLaunch will detect the termination of the first application
and proceed to re-launch the projector.
The problem is that the secondary process is still running. Thus, zLaunch
restarts the projector before the ideal time. This results in both the secondary
executable and the projector running simultaneously, which is most likely
zLaunch for Windows has recently been updated
to handle applications which launch other processes. It allows you to specify
a secondary process name to
wait for. zLaunch may not handle applications which spawn yet a third process.
Often, a front-end application simply determines some system parameters,
such as the OS version, before calling one or more secondary applications.
If you simulate this functionality from within Director, you can often run
the secondary application directly and avoid the problem.
This feature is not available on the Macintosh, but we have not had any
reports of Macintosh applications that change process names, so it does
not appear to be an issue.
We designed zLaunch to work with a wide variety
of applications. Usually, the application you are launching does NOT need
to be modified, so you can use most applications off
the shelf with zLaunch.
Q: Do I need to modify my external application(s) to work with zLaunch?
Consult the zLaunch for Windows and zLaunch
for Macintosh FAQs for more details.
zLaunch does not specifically control other
applications, but it does give you control over the sequence of user interaction,
which may address your needs.
Q: Will zLaunch force other applications to the foreground or background
or to kill other applications?
You should advise the user to quit all other running applications before
starting your projector. zOpen for Windows and
zScript for Macintosh offer some control over
external applications. zLaunch and zOpen also give you control over the
sequence of events in such a way that may address your needs.
Zeus Productions does not currently offer a utility to rearrange or kill
other applications, but may offer such a utility in the future. If you are
interested in such a utility, please e-mail
Zeus with your request.
Yes, both zLaunch for Mac and zLaunch for
Windows can pass a document to the application when it is first launched.
You must include the complete path to the document, as you would with Lingo's
Q. Can zLaunch open a document with an application?
zOpen for Windows can also open and print documents
using external applications under Windows, and zScript
for Macintosh can be used to open documents on the Mac.
zLaunch for Macintosh
and zOpen for Windows can pass a document to an
already open application, and zScript for Macintosh
can be used to open documents on the Mac
Q. Can zLaunch pass a document to an already open application?
Quitting the projector is optional. You would
ordinarily quit your projector, as the main purpose of zLaunch is to allow
you to dedicate the maximum available RAM to the external application. Quitting
the projector also releases other system resources, such as control over
the palette and video drivers.
Q: Do I need to quit my Projector or can I leave it running?
If you have sufficient RAM you can leave both the projector and the launched
This does not guarantee that there is sufficient RAM on the consumer's computer
however, so this is not recommended, unless your target
platform is guaranteed to have sufficient RAM.
You may be better off using Director's
open command or zOpen
for Windows if you intend to run both applications simultaneously. If
you expect to have sufficient RAM available, zScript
for Macintosh may also be of interest.
Q. How do I know if I have sufficient RAM to run my external application?
Ideally you would query the user's system
to determine the amount of free RAM, and decide based on that whether to
leave Director running or not. Note that the Lingo property
freeBytes returns the amount of RAM available to Director, not
the amount available to other applications or the amount installed on the
Check Macromedia's Xtra page for
possible Xtras that return the amount of RAM available. Zeus Productions
expects to ship zWinOS and zMacOS Xtras shortly which will provide the necessary
information about the user's available RAM, as well as other system configuration
Q. Will zLaunch control external devices through the serial or COM port?
zLaunch works with external
applications, not external
devices. The COMMPORT DLL (for Windows)
and the Serial XObject (for Mac) from
Macromedia will communicate via the serial port.
Some devices include applications to control them, and you could launch
such an application with zLaunch. If the application controlling the device
can read and write data files, then it may be able communicate with Director
using the FileIO Xtra.
If you are using a Macintosh, and the application controlling the device
is AppleScriptable, Zeus's
zScript Xtra may be appropriate.
Q. Can zLaunch reduce sources of conflict between my projector and other
zLaunch can reduce certain sources of conflict
between Director and other applications, because zLaunch allows you to quit
Director which releases its hold on various system resources. Most notably,
- Make more RAM available to your launched application than would be
possible if the projector were still running
- Set the Windows working
directory as is needed by some applications
- Prevent palette flashes while launching the second application
- Minimize driver and resource conflicts between multimedia applications
(Director loads temporary video drivers that are unloaded by zLaunch, but
would otherwise conflict with some applications)
Don't Stop Now! There are many more questions addressed in these additional
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Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus
Productions. All Rights Reserved.