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zLaunch Box Shot zLaunch FUQ

(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

Q. What is zLaunch and why would I use it?

A. 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.

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 you.

Q. Is zLaunch available for both Mac and Windows?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. Demo versions of both zLaunch for Macintosh and zLaunch for Windows are available in our Download Center.

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, risk-free.

Q: How do I order zLaunch?

A. 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?

A. . 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 open command?

A. zLaunch offers numerous improvements over Lingo's 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 over Lingo's open command.

It is our policy is to never oversell a customer. We recommend that you try Lingo's open command first. If you have not had any problems with the open command, then it may be adequate for your needs. You can also pass a document name to open using the "open...with" 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?

A. 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 operation.

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?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. 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 tools.

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 it parameters.

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?

A. 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 more time.

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?

A. zLaunch is an external application itself, so it is actually initiated with using Lingo's "open...with" 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 Windows platforms?

A. 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?

A. 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 policy.

Q. Will Zeus Productions write the code to make my applications work with zLaunch? What about Examples, Documentation and Technical Support?

A. 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 the job.

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?

A. If your application fulfills the criteria discussed within this FAQ, there is a high probability that it will work with zLaunch.

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 your problem.

Consult our Policies page for details on our Return Policy.

Q. Are there any known bugs?

A. 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?

A. 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?

A. 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 open command.

Q. Does zLaunch introduce a delay when launching other applications?

A. 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 Manager.

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.

Q. What needs to be installed to run zLaunch? Can it run from a CD?

A. 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 types of Projectors will zLaunch work with? Can it launch both native and non-native applications?

A. 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.

Q. Can zLaunch launch any Windows or Mac application, including an installer?

A. zLaunch works with the vast majority of applications, and it will launch any application that can be started with the Lingo open 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 terminate zLaunch.

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 projector, however.

Q. What types of applications will not work with zLaunch?

A. 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 Guarantee.

zLaunch may not work with: Unlike the Lingo 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 undesirable.

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.

Q: Do I need to modify my external application(s) to work with zLaunch?

A. 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.

Consult the zLaunch for Windows and zLaunch for Macintosh FAQs for more details.

Q: Will zLaunch force other applications to the foreground or background or to kill other applications?

A. zLaunch does not specifically control other applications, but it does give you control over the sequence of user interaction, which may address your needs.

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.

Q. Can zLaunch open a document with an application?

A. 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 "open...with" command. 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.

Q. Can zLaunch pass a document to an already open application?

A. 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: Do I need to quit my Projector or can I leave it running?

A. 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.

If you have sufficient RAM you can leave both the projector and the launched application running.

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?

A. 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 the freeBytes returns the amount of RAM available to Director, not the amount available to other applications or the amount installed on the system.

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 information.

Q. Will zLaunch control external devices through the serial or COM port?

A. 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 executables?

A. 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, zLaunch can:

Don't Stop Now! There are many more questions addressed in these additional FAQs:

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Copyright © 1996-1997. Zeus Productions. All Rights Reserved.