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
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...