The Demystified story [in Jason's own words]
Back in 1993, Macromedia Director (version 3.0) had just finished nudging out SuperCard as the dominant development platform for the then-burgeoning CD-ROM industry. Expertise in Director and Lingo (its proprietary language) was in demand, and many people were eager to learn them. There was just one big hurdle: the documentation.
Although friendly and accurate, the official manuals just didn't go far enough beyond the basics of this powerful program. Yet suprisingly, no third-party books on the subject had been written (a single book on an earlier version of Director was briefly in print).
Actually, it wasn't all that surprising--most Director experts were too busy working to take the necessary time out to write a book, and most professional computer book writers were gravitating to more general-interest topics. I got singled out because I had one foot in both camps.
I was a principal in Panmedia, a multimedia studio then based in Manhattan (in the heart of what's now called "Silicon Alley"). But before setting up shop I'd been a freelance writer and had published two books, The Macintosh Hard Disk Companion (1992) and the forbiddingly-titled Understanding Hard Disk Management on the Macintosh (1989). So when I got a call from an editor at Addison-Wesley suggesting I tackle a Director book, I gave it serious consideration. I could definitely see the need, and I thought it was something I could crank out in about three months.
Funny how naive one person can be, isn't it?
I programmed an interactive proposal for the book--a mildly-flashy Director movie that fit on a floppy. This got me a few compliments...but the idea behind it was promptly rejected by higher-ups at Addison-Wesley.
So I filed it away and promptly forgot about it...until several months later, when I got a phone call from Ted Nace, the publisher of Peachpit Press. He'd gotten a copy of the proposal, and was intrigued. Peachpit eventually offered a contract to produce a 350-page book and CD-ROM, with a deadline of six months. I accepted.
Eight months later, the manuscript had swollen to well over twice that size, and the end was nowhere near in sight. I realized that to do justice to the subject we were going to have to go deeper. With Peachpit's blessing (and the forebearance of my business partners and employees), the deadline was extended. Mind you, the contract was not just to write the book: I had to design and lay out the pages and program the CD-ROM, delivering everything but the cover in final form.
Somehow it all managed to happen, eventually. In 1995 the 776-page first edition of Director Demystified was published to positive reviews and brisk sales from the start. Perhaps it's ironic that by then Peachpit Press had been acquired by Addison-Wesley, the company that originally passed on the proposal.
D6D: from project to cottage industry
By 1996 numerous books on Director began to crowd the bookshelves, but we were paid a solid complement when Macromedia proposed that our book become the "official" volume, published under the Macromedia Press imprimatur. The result: Director 6 Demystified, 1,000+ pages long with expanded coverage of Shockwave and new net-savvy Lingo. It's also been fun to see that book in various translations: to date, editions in Italian, Chinese, Spanish and German have been published. I'm told a Korean one is in the works.
continues the revisions