June 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT1

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Multimedia for the Masses

IBM Linkway Version 2.01 provides technology to create professional multimedia instructional tools that can be developed quickly on IBM or IBM-compatible equipment. Linkway enables the user to combine text, graphics, sound, and motion to develop materials and presentations that can be distributed to field staff and clientele, without the cost of purchasing specialized hardware.

Barbara Dawkins
Extension Computer Programmer
Mississippi State University-Maben
Internet address: barbarad@mces.msstate.edu

IBM Linkway Version 2.01, January, 1991.

Professional multimedia instructional tools can be developed by Extension specialists to distribute to field staff and clientele without the cost of purchasing specialized hardware for every office throughout the state. Extension organizations with an IBM or IBM-compatible equipment can use Linkway applications without further hardware costs.

IBM Linkway is a software product designed for developing multimedia applications for microcomputers. Linkway provides both a flexible and low-cost means of creating instructional modules. Each application is called a "folder." A folder is basically a workspace containing information. Just as a standard file folder can contain pieces of information such as photographs, typed or handwritten notes, or news articles, a Linkway folder contains a series of pages containing one or more objects. Each object is either text, a graphic, or a set of instructions. This IBM product enables you to combine text, graphics, sound, and motion to embody the information. "Buttons" or "hot spots" can be defined. These buttons are specific spots or areas on the screen. "Scripts" made up of Linkway commands can be added to the buttons. When the user "presses" a button, the commands in the script for that button are performed. Buttons and scripts permit the user to interactively guide the presentation of information.

Two different computers need to be considered when developing a Linkway application: the one on which the development is taking place, and the one that the user will have available to run the program. For example, it's futile to invest resources developing applications that require CD-ROM drives and videodisc players if the user won't have access to a computer with those components. However, still-frame images from other sources, including Extension videotapes and artwork, can be scanned or "captured" and included in applications. Your clients may then use the applications even if they have no scanner or videotape drive attached.

Diskettes containing one or more related application and the Linkway runtime program can be distributed to clientele. The Linkway package includes a Linkway runtime program that can be distributed with your custom application. This runtime program allows Linkway applications to be displayed on a compatible computer.

Professional looking applications can be developed quickly using Linkway. A completed Linkway application comes with a tutorial on how to run it. The manual explains the various features and lists additional sources of information. The documentation includes a step-by-step example for creating a Linkway application.

The minimum hardware requirements include 512 kilobytes of memory, a mouse, and a color or graphic display. A hard disk drive or a second disk drive are recommended. Linkway runs on IBM's PS/2, PC/XT, and PC portable computers and on IBM-compatible computers.