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Scenario 3:
Multimedia Applications

May Viaje is developing materials to promote tourism to her country, an island paradise. She is creating a CD-ROM that will be distributed to hundreds of travel agents around the world, and will place the same materials on the Internet, so that anyone can access them over the Web.

Previously, May's department produced videotapes that were sent to travel agencies and to individuals who had written for information, so May knows the importance of creating a good presentation. She and her department will not be satisfied with just another boring web site that requires viewers to click through page after page. She wants a dynamic presentation that shows what her country has to offer, while allowing interested viewers to find further information if they so desire.

May starts out with ambitious plans for her materials. In addition to the typical text and images, she wants sounds (e.g., tropical birds singing) and short movies (e.g., waves crashing on the beach at sunset). She wants interactive maps, so that a user can click on a location to obtain information about local sights, hotels, restaurants, and transportation. She has designed an interest-generating game that lets viewers follow clues to find a dozen images of a statue scattered throughout the materials, and get a reward.

The government agency that May works for has many databases that contain useful information about her country, such as calendars of festivals and special events, and current exceptional deals on travel and accommodations. They also have an extensive online media library containing maps and historical photographs. She would like to allow access to these databases from her materials. Finally, many of her country's museums and tourist areas have web pages that she would like to link to.

May evaluates a dozen multimedia authoring tools, but finds that no one tool meets her needs. Each tool supports some media types, but not others. The tools that are best at authoring cannot access online databases. Some tools can be used to develop CD-ROMs, but not Internet content. So she starts developing her materials using a combination of tools.

There are more problems. In order to build her interactive maps or her game she will have to hire expensive outside programmers, or learn how to program. Neither of these is an option, so she drops these from her plans. In order to access her materials over the Internet, each tool requires a plug-in that must be installed manually by the viewer. Since she is using several tools, the viewer must install several plug-ins. Some of the plug-ins are not available for every type of computer. On a test run of a prototype of her site, May discovers that 75% of the viewers are unable to successfully install all the plug-ins they need to view her materials.

May's materials are full of images, sounds, and movies. This is great for travel agents with fast connections to the Internet, but viewers with slow modem connections quickly get frustrated and leave. However, she does not want to remove all the rich media from her site, since her primary targets are the big travel agencies.

May is about to go back to making videotapes when she discovers Spin. With Spin, she finds components to support each different media type she wants to use. She can even create interactive maps and her game, without programming. Her site adjusts to the connection speed of the viewer, and substitutes smaller images and lower-bandwidth sounds when appropriate. Now both travel agents with high-speed connections and users with 14.4Kb modems can enjoy her materials.

The online materials can access the database of festivals and special events over the Internet, and then automatically look in the online media library to find historical photos of those festivals. May even discovers other people in her industry that have been developing content using Spin. One of these people sells May a component that implements an online message board, which allows viewers to share their experiences traveling in her country.

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