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Gaia 3.0 Released

The long awaited release of Gaia 3.0 is available for download now! There are lots of great new features and bug fixes included in 3.0, the biggest of which is Flash CS4 support.

The Gaia panel was completely rewritten in Flex and includes optimization features, easier Gaia project management, and a new publish panel which makes developing with Gaia even easier. Gaia 3 also features a brand new version of SWFAddress (version 2.3) that fixes the Firefox 3 OSX redraw bug.

There is also a completely new addition to the Gaia project: the Gaia Framework Site Creator AIR application. This small AIR application allows you to quickly update your project's site.xml and visualize it as a wireframe sitemap.

gaia-site-creator

Some of the features include XML validation, drag and drop re-ordering, reordering of asset load order, editing project properties, and printing a site map. You can download the first version from Wade Arnold's blog posting about the app.

SWFAddress 2.2 Released

Rostislav has announced the release of SWFAddress 2.2 this morning, with a large number of enhancements and bug fixes:

  • Refactored JavaScript implementation
  • New SWFAddress.swc AS3 component
  • New CS4 based Splash screen sample
  • New Digg API sample
  • New up() method for easier deep linking path navigation
  • New XSS protection that doesn't affect special characters
  • Support for Internet Explorer 8
  • Support for custom HTTP status messages in the SEO sample
  • Improved title handling
  • Improved unload event handling for IE
  • Updated Rails sample
  • Fixed getBaseURL() for AS3
  • Fixed Safari 2.0-2.0.3 support
  • Build-in fix for the Firefox 3/Mac OSX blinking effect
  • Additional onLoad fix for application/xml content type
  • Fixed optional options parameter for the popup method
  • Cross platform build script
  • Various optimizations

This looks to be a major release, and took over seven months of development. I remember speaking to Rostislav about this release back at FOTB 2008 Brighton, so he truly has put in a lot of effort. Here's hoping it gets wrapped into the expected new Gaia release.

The new version is available for download here.

SEO Article in Flash & Flex Developers Magazine

Flash & Flex Developers Magazine - January 2009A few months back Jason McCoskery and I wrote a fairly detailed article for Flash & Flex Developers Magazine about SEO for Flash and Flex. It looks like the article has just been published in the January 2009 issue.

Jason and I used our experiences in building the p.i.n.k. Spirits website as a platform for testing the concepts and they worked so well that we decided to write an article. The article covers using SWFAddress and SWFObject with PHP to provide your content in an alternate view (in this case HTML instead of Flash) for SEO purposes.

The article contends that when Adobe announced they were working with Google and Yahoo! to improve the searchability of Flash and Flex websites and applications, the Flash development community largely applauded the initiative. However, months after the announcement there has been minimal increase in the effective search engine rankings of Flash and Flex websites.

We discuss why the current method of Google and Yahoo!'s new 'headless player' isn't working quite yet, and how you can provide a mirror of the exact same content in your Flash and Flex projects as HTML using a single data source. This is a 'white hat' approach and doesn't break any of Google's rules.

There have recently been some articles on how Google has been updating the 'headless player', namely this article on InsideRIA, and I may do a blog post updating the article if necessary. Until then, be sure to check out the article in the January 2009 issue of Flash & Flex Developers Magazine.

Tracking Flash with Google Analytics ActionScript 3 API

Yesterday Google made a significant announcement which seems to have gotten overshadowed by all the MAX Conference goodness: the Google Analytics team has released an ActionScript 3 API for tracking user events within Flash.

Yes, you could track events prior to this announcement by manually calling the JavaScript function embedded within the HTML page via ExternalInterface and passing it a unique identifier, but now you have two new options: either use the simple Flash or Flex component, or use the Flash or Flex AS3 tracking library. It should be noted that all four of these methods are being released as open source under the Apache 2 License.

Also, it looks like Rostislav will be looking at including this new GA library in his SWFAddress project (which already has support for tracking page views via the method I mentioned above).

The project is being hosted on Google Code where you can download the source and find documentation.

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.

SWFAddress and YouTube: Deep Linking Into Video

Rostislav has done it again! The creator of SWFAddress just released a simple way of deep linking into video content via YouTube's new JavaScript API and SWFAddress.

Why is this so awesome? Well, with this added functionality you can now create 'chapters' in your content, without having to split up the video file. And with YouTube basically becoming a free streaming media provider with the release of their chromeless video player, the possibilities are endless.

Check out an example of the deep link, which starts the video 21 seconds in.

Rostislav goes into more detail on his blog post about the SWFAddress and YouTube API project, and you can download the sample now from the SWFAddress SVN.

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