More MDM Zinc Issues

I’ve had issues with MDM Zinc in the past but due to certain issues with Adobe AIR find myself stuck with Zinc. I can’t really be bothered getting into why AIR is unsuitable for our current needs but safe to say it is. There are other alternatives to Zinc but I don’t have the time to research them at the moment. I think I will put a few hours a side to do this on Thursday as I’ve totally had it with MDM. They clearly have no idea how to implement bug fixes or deal with the public. It’s all about the money for them. Oooooo look at our new piece of crap Inferno that extends AIR. Shut your mouth MDM, deal with your own software before you start trying to improve other peoples.

Today’s stress ball comes from the FileSystem.saveFileUnicode function. There is a saveFile function that uses ASCII encoding however saveFileUnicode states “Unicode encoding is UTF-8”. Mint, just what I need to handle these fun French characters in my valid XML document. Does it save the file? Yes. Does it save it as UTF-8? No. Does it infact do exactly the same thing as the saveFile function? Yes. It’s been like this for the past three revisions at least. The current revision is 3.0.19.

I updated to that today just on the off chance that the UTF-8 problem was fixed and just not mentioned in the release notes. Why did I only just upgrade when 3.0.19 has been out for ages? Because MDM work to the principle of 1 step forward, 2 steps back. Whilst they try and fix things they always always always end up breaking other things that are totally unrelated. So today, when I re-zinced the project file I get greeted with an error popup stating “Error: couldn’t locate method setbgColor”. WTF? I didn’t change anything to do with the background color system. I do have a line that assigns the forms background color via “mdm.Forms.MainForm.bgColor = ‘CC0000′” but that hasn’t changed in over six months. As you may guess, they broke something internally. So now I can either roll back to an earlier version of Zinc or work around the problem. I opted to work around the problem this time.

I went to report both bugs and was greeted with this:

Report a Software Bug/Issue
We have currently suspended new Bug Submissions whilst we compile and validate existing entries. Thank you for your patience.

So they are saying they’ve closed the bug reporting system. Total wank. They’re probably just pruning the embarrasing entries that show how they keep breaking and fixing the same things over and over such as the window Title property or the callFunction function.

So how have I dealt with the UTF-8 problem? I had to write a function that parses the text and swaps out characters for their decimal code equivalent. That works ok for this apps front-end which is AS2 based. In that I manually assemble the XML content as a string so I can easily encode each value as it is added. I opted to use the XML class in the AS3 admin side of things. With that I use the toXMLString function to output a nicely valid XML file. Unfortunately this means I now have to add in an extra step to convert the node values. Ah, it’s going to get all mucky no matter how I handle it. A project shouldn’t need so many hacks to work around a paid for Flash wrapper that is supposed to make things easier.

Am I being hard on MDM? No, the sods charge £170 for each OS plugin. Ripoff scamming bastards. If you haven’t tried Zinc yet then my advice is DON’T. Save yourself the headache and look at some of the alternatives.

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  • MDM Zinc Team
    MDM Zinc Team

    We’re sorry to hear that you’ve had problems when using Zinc 3.0 in your project.

    Firstly, without causing unneccesary arguments and debates, we would like to point out that your summation of Zinc 3.0 and the language used to describe our company are irrational.

    In cases like this, we always strive to put things right and help our users. I appreciate that you attempted to report the issue via our bug management system, but I would recommend that during it’s offline status, you can contact our support team who would have verified the issue and added the item manually.

    On that note, we would very much like to fix this issue for you, so please do get in touch with our support team so we can build a fix in for this bug in our next update.

    Finally, the bgColor “bug” you mention is infact a fix which is noted in the 3.0.19 Release Notes. The previous implimentation of bgColor was incorrect and therefore the code used in your project is most likely incorrect. Please consult the release notes and the livedocs for its correct implimentation. If you require further verification on any of these aspects, please do contact our Support Team.

    We’re not in the business of scamming or ripping anyone off.

  • Anonymous

    How are my thoughts irrational? I’ve paid roughly

  • Andreas

    After ‘upgrading’ 3.0.19, any exe I create crashes.
    I’m sorry MDM, but I simply never had to deal with such a shoddy piece of software before. It’s simply not reliable enough to use in a professional environment. It’s not like your ‘software’ is cheap you know and problems didn’t suddenly start with the latest release. Since 2.5 it’s been a matter of, “well cross your fingers, this might just work this time…”

  • James Larkham
    James Larkham

    There is no word to describe the horrendous and brutal experience I have suffered since using this absolute piece of trash software by this ******** company.

    If there is any way I could meet your developers/programmers I swear I will cut all your johnny’s off and stuff it in your arses.

    I have wasted so much money and time on MDM Zinc. Its an absolute disgrace the unreliability and bugs in this software.

    Do not, I repeat DO NOT go anywhere near this software. Its a disgrace, and again not enough words to describe how shit it is.

  • Angel

    I learned the hard way that MDM Zinc is an overpriced piece of crap that should not be used for any thing other than simple presentation type applications. Yes, the project was late and with incomplete features due to MDM Zinc bugs. MDM’s fault? No, it was my fault that the project ended up over budget and made me and my company look like amateurs. Like an amateur, I wrongly believed Multidmedia’s Zinc 3 would work as advertised (what a sucker). They got my money and I got to learn a valuable lesson.
    It’s hard to believe that a company with such a buggy, poorly supported piece of software is still around to take money from gullible simpletons like me. Unfortunately, MDM does have the market cornered and so they will be around for the foreseeable future to rip you off.

  • Tony

    I feel for you guys–I’ve used hammy software in the past and it can really hurt–but I can honestly say that I have *never* had any real issues with MDM Zinc v2/v2.5 or v3.

    I have built many complicated projects that would be impossible any other way (for me) such as a slide sorter that loads presentations and allows the user to manage the slides and save out an xml playset to load in and play or edit at any time.

    The biggest project is a USB deployed training system using SQLite as a local DB and MySQL as a remote DB with FTP/HTTP and deployable system updates etc. etc. etc. (*very* big, complicated project).

    I had a glitch in one of the FTP methods (file size not returned from server), but a simple work around was created and the project is still live, active and deployed across 17 countries in 9 languages.

    There would have been no way for me to do these projects if not for MDM Zinc; we would have lost the business. It’s as simple as that.

    We’ve spent at least the same amount of money as you on Zinc (if not more because we have 3 copies) but the money we’ve earned from our *happy* clients is vastly more than the financial outlay for Zinc.

    I just thought I’d say it, that’s all. MDM are OK with me and I shall continue to purchase their product.

  • Anonymous

    I for one will not be buying Zinc 4 although I guess you will be making up for that when you buy 3 upgrade copies of it at $499 each. Just to put their pricing into perspective. The full version of Zinc 4 costs $799 whilst the full version of Flash CS5.5 costs $699 so Zinc 4 is $100 more than Flash itself. The upgrade cost for the entire Adobe Creative Suite is $549.

    The real issue is not the obscene prices they charge, the problem is when every single “update” they release breaks as many things as it solves. The real bind is when you absolutely need something that is fixed in version X but then you find out that something that worked fine in version Y no longer works so then you’re stuck back at square one.

    MDMs solution to having too many bugs and angry people contacting them was to close down their bug tracker. To me that just screams of fingers in the ears “We’re not listening na-na na na-na!”.

    I’ve had to implement numerous work-arounds for things that should work but don’t in Zinc. It’s been that way since I started with it back at Zinc v2. I don’t use it anymore in my personal projects although I am still chained to it due to a client that insists on using it. Last time I checked they actually stopped applying the Zinc updates as they also realised how flakey it can be. Luckily for them they only use a very small subset of its functionality.

    The only reason that the client insists on Zinc is because they are not allowed to install the Air runtime on the client machines. The minute that changes they will switch. Air can do most of what Zinc “says” it can do and a few things more plus it has a much larger user base which is useful for when you want to find out how to do something. Version 3 of Air fixes almost all of the things that I didn’t like about it before plus you can run the app on a number of mobile devices which is a total win.

    I’m glad it works for you and I hope you never have to suffer the problems myself and many other people have.

  • Sean Hunter
    Sean Hunter

    Well… unfortunately I just got my ticket to board the train leaving MDM… as soon as this latest project is done. I really loved Zinc. It has allowed me to create some fantastic applications but as people have said, too many bugs. I’ve run into a ton of them but usually found ways around them and ended up with very solid applications.

    I DID upgrade to 4.0 and all was going very well until I had to simply connect to a web service on my clients internal SharePoint server. Apparently, even though it’s a local app, the security sandbox was still enforced somewhere. I new it wasn’t my problem as it connected just fine when I exported a Windows .EXE projector right from flash.

    Solution? Downgrade to 3.0, compile… boom, it works as it should. I only tried that after banging my head against the wall for hours trying everything under the sun thinking it WAS me.

    I’m sorry MDM, but now after I have looked at other RAD solutions like Real Studio and RAD Studio XE2, I’m ditching Zinc and moving on to greener pastures.

    If instead of coming out with new products or major rewrites of products… let’s make one version of ZINC absolutely rock solid.

    Oh one more thing… 40MB OSX and 20MB Windows minimum application size compiled with 4.0? Really?

  • James Moore
    James Moore

    Thats it Im jumping ship!
    After giving mdm the benefit of the doubt for years now I give up.
    Release 4 looked so promising..rebuilt from the ground up? Do me a favour.
    Installed it and tried to compile AS2 project.
    Not a bloody chance.
    My problem is my application performs very slowly after mdm3
    was let loose on it and it fails to work at all with release 4.

    I have wasted countless hours on trying work with this product and can no longer afford to give it any more.
    Don’t be fooled by the website: this company produces expensive very poor quality products which you should avoid at all costs!!!

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