Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, ColdFusion

Adobe Flex: Article

SWFAddress - Deep Linking for Flash

A new open source project

SWFAddress is a new open source project that provides deep linking and search engine indexing for Flash Websites and applications. In other words, it enables the Back, Forward, and Reload buttons of the browser and creates unique URLs that can be sent over e-mail or IM. Recently it reached version 1.0 and quickly gained the attention of top design agencies and interactive developers. SWFAddress started as a small experiment that aimed to enhance a typical Flash Website by presenting the portfolio of a fellow photographer. It adopted all the best practices available on the Internet and became one of the best solutions among the growing number of similar libraries. After a successful release candidate, SWFAddress went beyond history management and bookmarking by providing an innovative approach for dealing with search engines. SWFAddress's way to success is based on simplicity, a rich feature set, and quality. SWFAddress is the third free software project of Asual DZZD, a small company from Sofia, Bulgaria. Previously known for its user interface framework, EnFlash, and ActionScript preprocessor, EnLarge, Asual continues to provide new ideas and solutions that target the Adobe Flash Player Platform. All the company's projects rely on the hosting services of Sourceforge.net and take part in the growing community of OSFlash.org. SWFAddress is released under the terms of the open source MIT license.

Technical facts about the project include:

  • SWPAddress is a combination of the JavaScript and ActionScript classes that communicate via the ExternalInterface introduced in Flash 8.
  • Provides three different ActionScript classes for each version of the language.
  • Supports Flash Player 8+ and all the major browsers including Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera.
  • Uses mod_rewrite with PHP and UrlRewrite with JSP to provide SEO support for Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask.
  • Comes with sample scenarios for Flash, Flex and MTASC.
SWFAddress was the first add-on for the fantastic SWFObject script by Geoff Stearns. Seamless integration with such a popular Flash embedding solution was one of the key values that attracted the developer community. The increased request for SWFAddress will probably lead to support for alternative methods such as the default Flex 2 templates or custom-made Flash writing scripts. SWFAddress can be quickly added to a Website that uses SWFObject only by inserting the JavaScript file like this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="swfobject/swfobject.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="swfaddress/swfaddress.js"></script>

The internal implementation of SWFAddress is simple and straightforward. Once a Flash movie containing the library is embedded in an HTML page, it automatically initializes itself and provides the developer with notification of state changes that need to be implemented. This might not be the easiest task for everybody, but SWFAddress streamlines the process by fully supporting testing workflow inside the Flash Program and Standalone Player. URL changes can be invoked from mouse-click events, frame actions, or HTML links.

Here is sample code that can be added to a MovieClip button:

this.onRelease = function () {

      SWFAddress.setValue("/portfolio");
}

For links in HTML-formatted TextFields, the following approach should be used:

<a href="asfunction:SWFAddress.setValue,/portfolio/">Go to Portfolio</a>

SWFAddress has a single onChange event where the navigation logic needs to be coded. The complexity may vary depending on the Website, but if it's planned from the beginning, it may improve maintainability by centralizing all the controller actions. A simple navigation handling can look like this:

SWFAddress.onChange = function () {

      var navigation = new Object();
      navigation.home = {frame: 1, title: "Welcome"};
      navigation.about = {frame: 10, title: "About Us"};
      navigation.contact = {frame: 20, title: "Contact Us"};

      var value = SWFAddress.getValue();

      website_mc.gotoAndStop(navigation[value].frame);

      SWFAddress.setTitle(navigation[value].title);
}

The setTitle method allows you to add unique titles to every section of the Website and they will appear in the browser's titlebar. It should be used inside the onChange event in order to correctly display the initial title value when the page loads.

The SEO support of SWFAddress is probably the most unique feature of the project. It enables the generation of real links that expose the appropriate content to search engines. The magic happens with some interesting URL rewriting and some trivial server-side code. The following is an example how it works for a Website located at http://www.domain.com that contains a portfolio section.

SWFAddress uses http://www.domain.com/#/portfolio/. The URL that can get indexed is http://www.domain.com/portfolio/ and therefore it should exist as a link in the HTML code of the page. When someone visits the indexed address, the rewriting functionality makes a redirect to the URL that SWFAddress expects. Everything happens transparently for the end user and further navigation through the Website correctly changes the Address bar value. The situation is different when the same link is followed by a search engine bot. In this case the address is rewritten without any redirection to http://www.domain.com/?swfaddress=/portfolio/. The page that handles all this should use a server-side technology in order to generate the appropriate content depending on the "swfaddress" parameter value.

Requests containing GET parameters such as http://www.domain.com/#/portfolio/?desc=true&year=2001 are handled similarly. The search engines will index http://www.domain.com/portfolio/?desc=true&year=2001 and the script will expect http://www.domain.com/?swfaddress=/portfolio/&desc=true&year=2001.

The result is a fully indexed Flash Website with deep linking support.

The following sample queries showcase how the SEO sample hosted at Asual.com is indexed:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:asual.com+aliquet
http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=site:asual.com+praesent
http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=site:asual.com+torquent

While this approach improves the usability of Flash content over the Web, it also requires an additional effort, such as some manual work for static Websites and some smart code for dynamic ones. The best case will be a Flash CMS that automates the whole process.

Something similar has still not been created for AJAX-heavy Websites, although a part of it is documented in the Unique URLs pattern on AjaxPatterns.org. It will be great for both Flash and AJAX if a technique like this gets adopted and improved over time.

SWFAddress promises to continue adding interesting functionality like AJAX support, transparent user tracking with Google Analytics, and enhanced event handling. It should definitely be considered for your next Flash project.

More Stories By Rostislav Hristov

Rostislav Hristov works for Asual Interactive Systems. Based in Sofia, Bulgaria, Asual provides outsourcing services to clients all over the world.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Whenever a new technology hits the high points of hype, everyone starts talking about it like it will solve all their business problems. Blockchain is one of those technologies. According to Gartner's latest report on the hype cycle of emerging technologies, blockchain has just passed the peak of their hype cycle curve. If you read the news articles about it, one would think it has taken over the technology world. No disruptive technology is without its challenges and potential impediments t...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...