SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - With seemingly everyone focused on creating content for the Web, it's easy to forget that you sometimes need to deliver media and presentations in a physical, higher-bandwidth form. Abvent Inc.'s Katabounga 3.0 allows you to create and script fully interactive multimedia presentations for delivery on CD-ROM, in kiosks, or as live presentations.
Capable of handling just about any type of media, Katabounga offers a nice balance of icon-based authoring and more-complex scripting, as well as cross-platform playback. Unfortunately, the package's documentation is so impenetrable as to render the product very difficult to learn.
Katabounga presentations comprise a series of screens arranged into scenarios.
Screens are roughly analogous to pages in a Web site or cards in a HyperCard stack, while scenarios are simply a way of organizing screens into a larger structure. The Project window lets you easily create, title, and rearrange screens and scenarios.
Screens can consist of still images, QuickTime movies, QuickTime VR objects, buttons, sprites, or text elements. You drag images and movies from the program's Media palette onto a screen, where they can be layered, cropped, and resized. Unfortunately, the program lacks rotation controls and a method for interactively scaling objects, so screen layout can be a bit tedious.
You create controls such as buttons, scroll bars, and dials by importing separate graphics for each state of the control. Though Katabounga takes care of changing the control's state, the program won't automatically create any graphics. And since the program provides no drawing tools of its own, you'll need to create your graphics elsewhere. You can, however, enter text or import external text files for display on screen, and you can easily create hypertext links in any block of text, making Katabounga a simple tool for creating complex hypertext systems.
Katabounga combines point-and-click authoring with a full-blown scripting language for specifying how each object will handle particular events. To add functionality to a button or object, you drag the appropriate command handler from the Commands palette and drop it onto your object; you then configure its behavior using a dialog box. But although Katabounga's selection of commands is comprehensive, the Command palette's icons offer no tool tips or labels.
For more-complex interactivity, you can use the program's Bounga scripting language to control media management and navigation and to manipulate graphics.
But although it includes repeat loops and if/then constructs, it lacks more-sophisticated logical structures and suffers from inconsistent syntax.
Finally, Katabounga's manual is among the worst we've seen. Offering no tutorials, horrid organization, a paltry index, and poor explanations of basic concepts, it's all but unusable. In a program this complex, that's a serious liability.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Katabounga 3.0 is a stable, well-conceived, well-implemented package. Though it comes up a little short on content creation and its scripting language isn't as fluid as others, its point-and-click authoring tools and impressive media management make it a good authoring environment. Expect to spend a lot of time experimenting, though; the program's documentation will offer little help.-BEN LONGRATING: 3.5 micePROS: Good combination of point-and-click authoring and scripting; stable; good media support.
CONS: Nearly unusable documentation; lacks some programming structures; scripting syntax a bit clunky.
COMPANY: Abvent (800/452-9241, http://www.abvent.com).
LIST PRICE: $595.