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
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. 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 ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
@CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX, two of the most influential technology events in the world, have hosted hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors since our launch 10 years ago. @CloudEXPO and @ExpoDX New York and Silicon Valley provide a full year of face-to-face marketing opportunities for your company. Each sponsorship and exhibit package comes with pre and post-show marketing programs. By sponsoring and exhibiting in New York and Silicon Valley, you reach a full complement of decision makers and buyers in ...
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.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
LogRocket helps product teams develop better experiences for users by recording videos of user sessions with logs and network data. It identifies UX problems and reveals the root cause of every bug. LogRocket presents impactful errors on a website, and how to reproduce it. With LogRocket, users can replay problems.
Data Theorem is a leading provider of modern application security. Its core mission is to analyze and secure any modern application anytime, anywhere. The Data Theorem Analyzer Engine continuously scans APIs and mobile applications in search of security flaws and data privacy gaps. Data Theorem products help organizations build safer applications that maximize data security and brand protection. The company has detected more than 300 million application eavesdropping incidents and currently secu...