1 Abstract In this paper we have surveyed three multimedia authoring systems (Multimedia Toolbook 3.0, Director 4.0, and Authorware 3.0). Each system uses a diierent metaphor (book, movie, and icon-based owchart) for creating multimedia applications. A sample application is developed in each MAS and the eeects of the corresponding metaphors are compared. Technologies like ODBC, OLE, DDE, DLL, and MCI are discussed and we have shown how MAS's can beneet from them. We have also discussed the limitations of the current systems, and where the research in this area is headed. 2 Introduction Multimedia software applications have become a multi-billion dollar business. Typical multimedia applications include: Product demos (e.g. Multimedia Toolkit demo) Kiosk applications (e.g. concert ticket ordering) Computer Based Training (CBT) (e.g. Microsoft Excel tutorial) Games (e.g. Iron Helix is written in Director) Multimedia References (e.g. MS Encarta, 747 repair manual) Education (Multimedia textbooks and courseware) However, the growth of the multimedia software market has not kept up with the hype that multimedia could get in the press. This slowness is in large part due to the inadequacies of the tools supplied for the developers. For example, it is only with in the last two years that cross platform tools have become available, and it is even more recent that these tools have started to provide interprocess communication and database connectivity. Multimedia applications can be developed using traditional tools, such as C++ (if provided with graphics, sound, hypertext, animation, video, and database libraries). However, the number of tools that a developer would have to learn in order to write even a simple multimedia application is quite daunting. A better alternative is to use a multimedia authoring system (MAS).