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Archive for June, 2008

Adobe Announces SWF Searchability

Adobe has just announced this evening that they have formed a partnership with Google and Yahoo! to enhance the searchability of SWF content by helping their spiders run SWF files in the Adobe Flash Player runtime.

Ryan Stewart does a great job of explaining it in his blog post:

So what does that mean? We are giving a special, search-engine optimized Flash Player to Yahoo and Google which is going to help them crawl through every bit of your SWF file. This Flash Player will act just like a person would in some cases. It will click on your buttons, it will move through the states of your application, get data from the server when your application normally would, and it will capture all of the text and data that you’ve got inside of your Flash-based application. We’ve basically provided a very powerful looking glass into SWF files so Google and Yahoo can pull out meaningful information.

Going a bit further, Justin Everett-Church also has a good post where he explains that content producers do not have to do or change anything for their SWFs to be indexable. My guess is, however, that as developers find out what Google likes best, they'll start building with that in mind. Knowing that will be the case, this announcement could have a huge impact on frameworks such as SWFAddress and other means developers have used recently to help make content more visible to search engines.

One key thing to note is Ted Patrick's post in where he makes a point to mention that dynamic data will also be indexed in the process. Considering I build most of my projects with the content being pulled from XML or some other data source such as SWX, this is great news as well.

It seems like the only search engine company left out of the party was Microsoft. As Brooks mentions, I'd bet Microsoft is not interested in offering a service which enhances a direct competitor's platform file format to their Silverlight. It is a shame, but I doubt it will have much of an effect on the Flash community.

You can find more information on the Adobe Developer Center SWF searchability FAQ and in Google's official announcement.

Review: Guidelines for Online Success

Rob Ford, founder of The FWA, and Taschen Books have posted a virtual copy of their upcoming book "Guidelines for Online Success" for viewing before the print version hits bookstore shelves.

I ended up spending about an hour flipping though the virtual edition, and this is both a great reference and a great source for inspiration. I have previously posted about several of the smaller Taschen web design books, and while those are great for inspiration, I always felt they lacked any educational component. "Guidelines for Online Success" takes the normal screenshots of amazing interactive projects and then discusses what makes them amazing, how you can learn from their success, and how to avoid some possible pitfalls.

I have a feeling as soon as I get my copy, it'll become a well used resource for both inspiration and interactivity guidelines. Every agency should have at least one copy of this book, so pre-order a copy from Amazon.com today.

SWFObject 2 To Be Default Publish Method in CS4

This weekend I was catching up on my unread email when I came across an interesting quote from the June 2008 edition of Adobe Edge, specifically, an article on the new features of Dreamweaver CS4:

When your projects include SWF files created with Adobe Flash or Flex, the newly updated Insert Flash feature in Dreamweaver, which now uses the open source SWFObject 2.0 codebase, enables you to visually preview your SWF file in context using Live Preview and even design the static, alternative HTML/CSS content right in Design view, too.

The thing that struck me most here was that SWFObject 2 will be used as the default for embedding Flash content in HTML pages, which is very cool. For those who don't know, Adobe has always rolled their own embedding code which was cumbersome at best. Every developer I know would end up creating their own HTML files and using SWFObject to embed Flash - in essence redoing what Dreamweaver had already done for them, albeit poorly. It is nice to see Adobe yet again making great use of the open source contributions of the community.

What is more exciting to me, however, is that one can assume Flash CS4 and the next version of Flex (either Flex 4, or an update to Flex 3) will use SWFObject to embed the SWFs they publish as well. A quick search of the SWFObject Google Group confirms this as well.

Liquid Components Released Open Source

This week Didier Brun released his Liquid Components set, which I have previously blogged about, as open source. The component set is written in AS3, and provides a simple alternative to those provided by Adobe with Flash CS3, in a similar vein as Keith Peter's MinimalComps.

Debugging Flash and Flex in Eclipse – Arthropod and LogWatcher

Arthtopod

In my search for ways to enable simple debugging when working in Eclipse with both FDT and FlexBuilder, I managed to find two viable options: Arthropod and LogWatcher.

Arthropod is an AIR application that enables enhanced logging for AIR, Flex and Flash applications. I am surprised there was not more fanfare made of this recently, as it was just released and got a mention on The Flash Blog. Arthropod allows you to use a simple bundled class to write trace statements to the running AIR application. This means, in theory, I could avoid having to switch back and forth to the Flash CS3 IDE to compile and debug with trace() statements. What I like most about Arthropod is how simple it is to use. Import one class, fire up the AIR application, and you are ready to go.

The second option I have come across is LogWatcher. I found this one on Josh Buhler's blog a while back, but never got around to installing it. LogWatcher is a bit more integrated into Eclipse/FDT, as it puts a panel in Eclipse that reads the continuous output of the debug Flash Player. You'll need to set the debug Flash Player to output all trace statements to a text file, but simple instructions can be found here.

Between the both of these options, it looks like I can finally stop having to switch to the Flash IDE to debug my projects.

 
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