Google gets better at Flash with Adobe’s help

If you haven’t seen the official posts, Adobe has been working to make Flash more index-able by search engines. Google has recently rolled out better code for Flash, e.g. you’re now more likely to see useful snippets on Flash pages in Google’s search results.

I’m a fan of this change, and I’m a fan of Adobe in general. They get a lot of credit in my book for opening up the specifications for PostScript, Adobe’s font standards, and their Acrobat/PDF format. Very few companies have been able to open up their specs and still compete successfully against powerful opponents. I respect Adobe for that — not to mention providing one of the first widely-known “plug-in” mechanisms (in Photoshop). The idea of a plugin or extension has greatly affected how people view software from Firefox to WordPress. I’m glad that this most recent change by Adobe will make it easier for search engines to index content in Flash files.

49 Responses to Google gets better at Flash with Adobe’s help (Leave a comment)

  1. Read the post on the Webmaster Central Blog. Glad you mentioned pdf files. I recently got a scansnap scanner that makes nice pdfs and yesterday I converted one of my old school papers (50+ pages) into pdf. I’m figuring it’s indexable but the file is 93mb and I realize I may have to reduce that size to make it more user friendly. Any specific tips on optimizing pdfs or do standard rules apply?

  2. Will be interesting to see how this affects the rankings of some Websites that were very heavy on flash homepages and flash intro pages :-)

    Those that had entire pages done in flash will probably see the biggest changes in their rankings – they probably wont even know why until this news becomes very common knowledge.

    The next hurdle will now be to understand Flash TEXT Images,

    ….perhaps in the next decade

  3. From SEO perspective it is nice that Google can read the text within flash files, but it is not so nice for accessibility issues on the web. I mean: Till now, webmasters were forced to replace their flash content with an accessible text, so users which don’t have flash installed (and Googlebot) can actually read the content of the website. In majority of the cases, the flash content was replaced mainly because of the Googlebot and the accessible website was just a side effect.

    Now in one hand, with indexing flash you get more content in your index (which is great for Google users!), but in the other hand you are not forcing webmasters to make accessible websites anymore (which is bad for many disabled users!).

  4. Dave (original)

    Matt, can Google mark pages with Flash in their SERPS? Flash is just too slow.

  5. Ian M

    You’d better update the Google Webmaster Guidelines on this page then :)

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=72746&topic=8522

  6. I am with tybi in thinking that this is a two edged sword as its pandering to companies that insisted on having flassy flash sites instead of a proper.

    I still think that google should have brought out adobe and quitely killed flash off.

    Still might save the bacon of the Nathen Baley school of webdesign companies

  7. This will be interesting.

    I have focused on making bare bones text and css pages, and then spread out into wordpress blogs.

    Does this mean it is time to learn flash?

    Cartoons are fun!

    dk

  8. To me it looks like Adobe is officially concerned about Search Engines, now let’s see what they do and how it works. In particular with the only one URL flash sites.

  9. This is great news, but I do shudder to think of all the poorly conceived flash development that will be sold in the near future with the additional assurance that it is ‘optimized for search engines!’.

  10. I’m with Dave. Disclose the fact a listing in the serps is a flash site so many of us can avoid them.

  11. Matt is this just a relaunch of their original search SDK which seems to have turned into a ghost?
    http://www.timnash.co.uk/07/2008/swf-indexing/

  12. Hi Matt,

    I think this is great news! Although – if Adobe are making SWF somewhat more readable to Google, will this allow links embedded within an SWF file to be crawled and therefore give some link benefit? If this is the case then will this not be seen as an opportunity for spammers to use online advertising campaigns to their advantage and embed links within their SWF adverts and potentially gain thousands of crawlable links?

  13. Thanks tybi; goes to show how much I do searches. lol

    This is all nice for adobe and Google as it helps the index for g and it helps adobe get it’s product out there, but for usability on a grand scale?… it takes a major, major hit it seems. If we thought toooo darn many designers fall in love with their “pretty” work before, this makes things doubly tough trying to explain to owners that flash is not visitor friendly. … and it isn’t. Period.

  14. I know. My server is down. MANY sites are down for me, including Gmail. Is this just me or is there a major prob going on?

  15. That should read “off topic” I know. I put the words off topic in brackets… didn’t show up.

  16. can we identify which links are paid? because we can not put nofollow..

  17. Hi Matt,

    It’s interesting to know your thoughts on Flash.

    Have you had any dealings with Silverlight as yet? If so, what do you think of it in comparison with Flash, and do you think it can gain popularity?

    Mike.

  18. This is interesting. I can now see future websites getting more and more into Flash.

  19. Chad

    I think I’m in the camp of the – maybe good maybe bad. It is positive that Google is starting to index flash, but what cost is this to the usability of the web. Additionally it’s pretty pertinent that externally loaded SWFs are indexed with the parent SWF. The greater majority of heavy flash experience sites, use a container SWF to load the main content SWF. I know this is one of the 3 issues that is being addressed, of the 3 I would say this is most important…

  20. Great, this now means even more idiots are going to be jumping on the flash bandwagon and presenting me with stupid countdowns while their site loads.

    The whole web design thrust for years has been to build usable and accessible websites. But now that google will be indexing text within the flash files it has endorsed the use of this most unusable and inaccessible product.

    However, I don’t think it is going to be much competition in the for a well built HTML/CSS site with great content so I’m not going worry too much just yet.

  21. Dan

    Matt,

    Quick questions.

    1.How is Google going to handle those sites that are duplicate contents in HTML created to make up for Google’s inability to read Flash in the past. This might also happen with the HTML text replacement we usually show to users not having Flash installed.

    2.Can Google then index text using any font on Flash or is there a list of fonts that you are not able to read.

    Thanks for making Flash indexing happen.

  22. Sam C

    This is great news. Perhaps we’ll soon see better parsing of flash videos i.e. less reliance on tags

  23. Hi Matt. My question would be: how will Google distribute pagerank in Flash sites when there are no individual pages?

  24. I was sorry to read this actually; I’m not a fan, and it was the best argument I could give to clients as to why they shouldn’t do their sites entirely in Flash. Bleah.

  25. Matt

    Any idea when suggested guidelines for optimizing Flash sites for Googlebot will be available? Is that something Google will address or Adobe?

  26. dude

    @EVERYONE
    Flash in itself is not unusable! It is the job of the designers and developers to make content and applications “user friendly.” The developers and designers choose their tools, and it is up to them pass on their knowledge of usability to the end product. This CAN BE DONE in Flash; granted it might not seem that way from the end products put out (but there are LOTS of poor examples of usability on the internet created with LOTS of other different tools). Look at the new visual search engines out there created with flash, like viewzi.com, for a good example of usability in Flash. Hooray for Google! And, good luck with all the questions Matt.

  27. It’s about time. I have long since given up on Flash because if you make a cool site you have to work twice as hard to make it rank at all for it topic in the search results. My question is what took this so long?

  28. Dave (original)

    tybi, I might be wrong, but HTML pages with Flash embedded and FORCED upon vistors aren’t flagged in the SERPS.

  29. Dave (original)

    I have long since given up on Flash because if you make a cool site you have to work twice as hard to make it rank at all for it topic in the search results

    I wish Google never indexed Flash. Period All anyone needs to do is, have a standard HTML page with a link option to view Flash. Choice is good and visitors appreciate choice over forcing Flash upon them.

    Common sense 101.

  30. Hey Matt:

    Google still indexes pages, right? …pages with unique URLs?

    If, let’s say, a 100 “page” site is built in Flash and sits on one URL …what is Google going to index? .

    Can Google send a visitor deep into the Flash site from their search result? If Google can, great! If Google can’t, how likely is it going to be that Google will display a result at the top of their of their search results that sends visitors to a Flash homepage that does not appear, to the user, to be related to what was searched? My guess is, not very likely.

    I’m hoping you will respond, Matt? My fear that this is the green light that sends developers, who have great content, down a road to content obscurity.

    Either way, I’m hoping we can get some clarity.

  31. @EVERYONE
    Flash in itself is not unusable! It is the job of the designers and developers to make content and applications “user friendly.” The developers and designers choose their tools, and it is up to them pass on their knowledge of usability to the end product. This CAN BE DONE in Flash.

    Yes, it is unusable, and no it can’t.

    Text, by default, cannot be resized.
    Flash is still not installed on a large percentage, if not the majority, of machines…contrary to Adobe’s completely unrealistic and asinine 98% claim.
    Flash uses resource that doesn’t have to be used.
    Trying to do anything advanced with Flash (e.g. retrieving images from a database) still requires some form of server-side programming, and some things are impossible within Flash (e.g. caching said images for reuse, as opposed to having to reload them on the fly….although this may have been addressed within CS3. I haven’t tried this yet, and don’t want to.)
    You can’t put an alt attribute for an image, thereby making it utterly useless for those with sight issues.
    And it still requires a plugin…something which is not allowed in certain corporate environments, and that some people will resist no matter what.

    Flash is okay for accents and/or non-critical items…but for a whole site, no. Like others have said, this is just going to spawn even more stupidity on the part of the Macrowhores who continue to build abominations that take forever to load, even on on broadband connections.

    Flash = unusable. Flash = yet another in a long line of Macromediadobe products that are bloated, feature-poor, and completely impractical. Period.

  32. Many people were expecting this feature is a breakthrough for flash developers :)

  33. Brian

    The argument that Flash is inaccessible is outdated. http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/flex/

    Also, a properly designed Flash application can in fact support deep linking to multiple ‘pages’ http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Flex_3:Feature_Introductions:_Deep_Linking

    Of course you can build cumbersome applications in Flash, but poor usability is not inherent for a Flash application. Great designers can make great designs. Poor designers can mess up the most simple sites. This is an absolutely positive announcement because it gives good designers more options.

    If you don’t like the option, don’t use it. If you don’t like Flash, why not use Flash Blocker??

    Great job Adobe/Google!! Now if we can just get some more information…

  34. The argument that Flash is inaccessible is outdated. http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/products/flex/

    Actually, it’s still completely current by default. Most people aren’t going to spend the extra $250 to buy accessibility software. Most people probably don’t even know it exists, and the ones who did probably wouldn’t use it.

    Within the HTML framework, accessibility is right there, it’s easy to put in, and it’s free. All Adobe is doing here is profiting off of those who who don’t have certain physical abilities by default, and that’s typical Adobe corporate greed at all costs logic, and it’s completely disgusting.

    If it’s so great and it’s so wonderful, why isn’t Adobe.com an all-Flash site (or at least why isn’t there an all-Flash Adobe site) that shows off the awesome Flex power and all of the so-called Flash goodness and all that sort of thing? Because even they know better than that, that’s why. They just create a pretty product geared at the art community, and it gets sucked in.

    Flash, by default, is inaccessible. That’s just the way it is. It has minimal uses for some things (e.g. non-critical content), but building a whole site off of a technology that not everyone can use is a suicide mission.

    Of course you can build cumbersome applications in Flash, but poor usability is not inherent for a Flash application. Great designers can make great designs. Poor designers can mess up the most simple sites. This is an absolutely positive announcement because it gives good designers more options.

    And you’re going to sit there and say that most designers are going to create wonderful search-engine-friendly all-Flash sites that are still as functional as their vanilla HTML counterparts and outperform them because they’re prettier and Flashier? If you’re saying that, there are at least half a dozen weed-smokers on this board who want what you’re having.

    If you don’t like the option, don’t use it. If you don’t like Flash, why not use Flash Blocker??

    I can’t speak for everyone, but some others will agree with me. It’s not that the technology doesn’t have its uses…it does. It’s just that some designers make the mistake of relying excessively on a technology that even its creators never did. We’re going to see more inaccessible, all-Flash monstrosities that do nothing for anyone other than to inflate the egos of those who created and own them. while other designers sit there and go “oh, that’s so pretty, I like that, it’s so Web 3.14159265″ and users shy away from the sites or don’t even find them.

    People think Google’s evil? They’ve got nothing on Macromediadobe.

  35. I suggest reading Adam’s couple of posts above again and again as they are very pertinent.

    I also suggest to Google to buy Adobe and take them out of their misery. Then kill it off. Totally. I can’t think of a more annoying language off the top of my head. Does it have it uses? Oh sure. A very small few of them. I can say this though; this will have a huge effect on entire flash sites….. much more of them.

    Thanks.

  36. Brian

    Adam,

    I agree that HTML by default is more accessible than SWF by default. I hold the opposite view of what makes Flash/Flex useful. I block 90% of the Flash content that comes through my HTML stream, not because it isn’t useful, but because most of it is non-critical content that is not interactive.

    I think the web developer community may be suffering from stale and outdated views regarding SWF content. Soap-boxers such as many who have posted here are, in my opinion, at least inflexible in there thinking on how to create a positive user experience with the changing technology landscape. The current movement toward creating RIAs using AJAX technologies represents a kludge on top of a kludge (DHTML) on top of a technology that was not intended for applications (HTML) on top of rendering platforms that have as many cross-compatibility issues as the old UI toolkits of the pre-web era. How many kludges do you accept before you clean up? By comparison, the Flex API is a modern marvel.

    In an ideal world, page-based technology would never be used for the interactivity of a typical web experience. Imagine if your favorite development environment was a series of HTML pages. That would drive most of us completely nuts! Yet somehow most of us think that an application for online shopping should of course be a page-based experience. Why?? It’s what we’ve settled for for so long we don’t even recognize it as a limitation. The current push toward AJAX or other RIAs is validation that page-based apps are insufficient for much of what we design.

    So what about the real world?

    First, you mention that SWF requires a plugin, and that Adobe’s claim for 98% adoption is overstated. This may be so, but I think you would agree that the Flash VM has higher adoption than at least the first two browsers combined and maybe more. Whatever the number is, it’s high.

    Second, people complain about the amount of time it takes to download a SWF. But everyone just accept the response time it takes to run their favorite page creating technology on the server and send the results over the wire, practically every time the user clicks the mouse button. If the user doesn’t have to wait every time they click the mouse button, it’s mostly because you are using AJAX or something else, which means your original page took even longer to download. But the browser download status bar doesn’t count, right?

    Implicitly I suspect many people hate Flash because they’ve been forced into doing something too complex for the original artsy program. Of course this is going to make people hate the technology, but Adobe has solidly addressed application development with Flex.

    Lastly, SEO. As other have said, this was their last argument for why they should not build a site as a SWF. (Why do you think you have to make those arguments in the first place?) Now, Adobe has taken a major step to address the SEO aspect of a site. I’m not completely convinced they have really fully addressed the issue. As I mentioned, a Flex app can have multiple ‘pages’, but these are really different states of what an SE would consider a single page, managed by a bookmark in the URL (e.g. #page=news;article=aboutUs) Here’s a line from the Adobe searchability FAQ that will really upset you:

    “Even for sites that use a single SWF, you can create multiple HTML … entry points [using a sitemap]”

    However, AFAIK the sitemap will have to define the arguments for the entry point as URL parameters, and then the state for the application will be managed with bookmarks. Also, it’s not clear why every page defined in a sitemap that refers to different entry points of the same app would *not* include the content for the entire app. So what if you define different entry points if they all end up with the text of the entire site. There may be a solution to this, but I don’t know what it is.

    Value your experience, but make arguments that are relevant to this point forward, not this point backwards; and yes, I understand how unpopular my views are.

  37. I think the web developer community may be suffering from stale and outdated views regarding SWF content. Soap-boxers such as many who have posted here are, in my opinion, at least inflexible in there thinking on how to create a positive user experience with the changing technology landscape.

    I would suggest that’s partly true, although I also think this statement is somewhat clouded with the same kind of Macromedia doublespeak that leads to a lot of the backlash. There are some people out there who simply won’t accept Flash on any terms from a developmental standpoint.

    Personally, and I only speak for myself, I’m not averse to new technology in and of itself. I think most of it’s explained horribly and far out of the grasp of all but the most computer-savvy people (the ones who consider Slashdot a social site, for example), but I don’t have a problem with it as long as I can see a use for it. Google Maps, for example, is quite useful and has a lot of cool stuff in it if you’re just willing to bash your head off the wall for a few hours trying to figure out what the hell they’re talking about in the API reference (by the way, Matt, there’s something else you can pass on…better examples and more layman explanations of the Google Maps API. That thing reads like Crime and Punishment in spots…you have to go back and read it 4-5 times before it makes any sense.)

    The current push toward AJAX or other RIAs is validation that page-based apps are insufficient for much of what we design.

    Not necessarily. It’s a validation that AJAX can provide a new level of efficiency in the retrieval of data. Personally, I’m a big believer that a lot of the future of search will be AJAX-based. We’re already starting to see some of that within big G…besides, building an AJAX-based search engine and watching people’s jaws hit the floor when the information they wanted is retrieved faster they can turn their head to say “it hasn’t showed up yet” is freakin’ hilarious sometimes. :D You just aren’t gonna get that within the Flash framework the way it stands.

    First, you mention that SWF requires a plugin, and that Adobe’s claim for 98% adoption is overstated. This may be so, but I think you would agree that the Flash VM has higher adoption than at least the first two browsers combined and maybe more. Whatever the number is, it’s high.

    Actually…I wouldn’t agree with that at all.

    Flash is still verboten in a large number of corporate environments.
    A large percentage of users are still on dialup and therefore would have no use for most of the Flash-based content that’s out there…particularly in my native land of Canada, where there are still very large areas of the country that cannot get a high-speed signal unless they catch lightning in a bottle and a business-class portable Internet modem or wireless PCMCIA NIC picks up a signal.
    Some people simply cannot (e.g. Lynx users) or will not use Flash or other plugins…period.

    I don’t know what the percentage is either, but based on my own observations, I’d say a conservative estimate is that this is about 10%.of the potential “marketshare”, leaving the figure at no more than 90%. I don’t even think it’s that high personally (I’d estimate between 75-80%), but it may be. Again, we’ve got nothing to base this on…and neither does Adobe (other than their own so-called third party study.)

    If we take a look at Hitslink’s recent browser share figures, they peg the top two browsers as MSIE and Firefox. If you add the figures together, they combine to 92% of the browser market. I would suggest to you that it’s pretty close…and my own observation of the stats for the sites I deal with is that the count between the two is just under 98%. That’s more than 90%.

    Second, people complain about the amount of time it takes to download a SWF. But everyone just accept the response time it takes to run their favorite page creating technology on the server and send the results over the wire, practically every time the user clicks the mouse button. If the user doesn’t have to wait every time they click the mouse button, it’s mostly because you are using AJAX or something else, which means your original page took even longer to download. But the browser download status bar doesn’t count, right?

    That’s because it generally will take longer to initialize the plugin, download the SWF and play it than it will to load an HTML web page. Of course, the way a lot of people “code” web pages and server apps, including some pretty major organizations, there are major exceptions…but a clean web page (code and graphics) will almost always load more quickly than a clean SWF equivalent.

    As far as the AJAX thing is concerned, this would also depend on how it’s coded. If you write your application in such a way as to use server resources as much as possible (basically, call your page, let the server generate the appropriate output as much as possible and do minimal JS-based manipulation after that) then you’ve got what you need.

    And if you want to talk load time, try this in Flash 8 (not sure if they fixed this in CS3, but I highly doubt it). Build yourself a photo gallery with a series of thumbnails and full-sized images, and have the thumbnail/image info in a database (file name, width, height should suffice). Pull the thumbnail/image information from the database, then try to preload those images (or even “postload” the full-size images) and recall them without any subsequent image loads. Spend about 8 hours building the thing, coding it, trying to find out how to do what you want (keeping in mind that every example you’ll find online will be non-database-driven), bashing your head off the wall, and then finding out that it’s completely impossible to load the full-sized images into a cache. Every time you want that full-sized image, you have to reload it.

    How’s that helpful to the end user? How is that an efficient use of resource? How is that in any way better than a Javascript-based equivalent which falls back on conventional HTML page-loading if the user doesn’t have it enabled?

    Implicitly I suspect many people hate Flash because they’ve been forced into doing something too complex for the original artsy program.

    Not sure what you mean here.

    Lastly, SEO. As other have said, this was their last argument for why they should not build a site as a SWF. (Why do you think you have to make those arguments in the first place?)

    I’ll grant you that. There are many other reasons why Flash is useless for most things, and SEO shouldn’t be the last reason.

    Like this one, direct from Adobe themselves (click the “Why is Flex different than Flash?” FAQ):

    Developers may find it difficult to use the Flash tool to create applications.

    That’s a euphemism if one ever existed.

    The biggest argument against Flash as an exclusive tool for full websites is actually made by Adobe themselves, without their ever having meant to. Ask yourself this…why doesn’t Adobe make their site all-Flash? Why don’t they just show off a site that uses all of their wonderful Macromediadobe products in one shot, without the need for HTML-based content? Because even Adobe’s not that stupid.

    Here’s another way of looking at it: if you were to play an unofficial game of Family Feud and ask people how they get the most use out of Flash, what do you think the #1 answer would be? Or to rephrase the question somewhat, what site is the most useful site that in some way incorporates the Flash plugin?

    YouTube.

    And what is YouTube, when it comes right down to it? It’s a computerized idiot box. I like YouTube, but let’s face it…the site does nothing more than to turn your computer into a TV featuring your choice of short programming (clips from TV shows), commercials (people trying to advertise to you as well as people who think it’s a form of “social networking”) and home videos (people who talk on their webcams…and actual home videos). So that’s basically what Flash has been reduced to at its top end…TV.

    I’m all for something that would provide a richer user experience than what we have now…as much as I don’t think it’s hard to provide a quality user experience without Flash, I don’t think any of us should be averse to that. But it would have to do six things:

    1) Work on the same or a greater percentage of machines than HTML does.
    2) Make minimal use of resource.
    3) Be universally installable.
    4) Be something that the community at large could be able to pick up quickly and use quickly to at least build basic applications as quickly and with the same quality that they could with conventional HTML.
    5) Provide a logical, consistent framework within which to build things.
    6) Allow for reusable code.

    As of right now, Flash fails on #1) and #3). #4) is an issue simply because what few “Flash developers” there are can’t explain bugger all to anyone and tend to look down on the community at large (although to be perfectly fair, the geek community in general does this). #2) can be a problem. #5) is a problem…certain aspects of Flash (e.g. creating a motion tween) don’t always behave consistently). #6) may or may not be possible…but from what I’ve seen, the only way it is possible is to load a movie within a movie, which doesn’t really make much sense to me. It’s a moot point anyway, because as long as #1 and #3 are in place, the rest really doesn’t matter.

    That’s why we see more HTML stuff than Flash…HTML simply works, whereas Flash does not. I’m with Doug on this one…Google, please buy Macromediadobe out and do the whole stake-through-the-vampire-heart bit. Macromedia should never be forgiven for destroying the greatest web editor that ever existed (Allaire HomeSite).

  38. Brian

    You make some good points, and you seem to be agreeing with me more than you are willing to admit. When you say that AJAX (and RIAs in general) can provide a new level of efficiency in retrieving data, you are in fact agreeing with my point that page-based technologies are insufficient or poorly suited for much of what we do. And when you tout how fast AJAX applications can display data, you are really talking about RIAs in general, which includes Flex. Imagine if RIAs had been around first. Do you think you would ever be able to convince people they should give up their RIA and use a page-based technology for their interactive activities?

    If I had been more clear that I am talking about Flex running in the Flash VM, not Flash the graphic design program, many of your other arguments would have whithered away.

    #1) with that mindset, we would all be using ftp, and nobody would ever write software that didn’t work on Windows.

    #2) Firefox is taking up 160Mb on my machine right now, and I run FlashBlocker. A complex Flex app may weigh in at a hefty 1Mb before optimization. But that’s only 0.5 seconds of download time for the median American user (1.9Mb/sec speedmatters.org) And actually your beautiful country has 5x higher download speeds than the US; give your countrymen some credit! Again this is without optimization and download speeds are rising fast, and the download only happens once. Then you get all the interactivity and speed advantages of RIA, even more so than AJAX because Flex RemoteObject uses a binary format, not that it should matter that much.

    #3) I’m not sure why you think the Flash VM is less installable than a browser. If you’re just talking about some very large corporate environments, I agree.

    #4) Flex is very easy to pick up for anyone with a programming background, and it is very well documented.

    #5) Flex again wins here. It is one of the most logical and consistent UI frameworks ever with no cross-platform concerns, unlike HTML and certainly your favorite AJAX kit. It’s true though that transitions don’t always behave the way you want the first time.

    #6) of course Flex can allow for reusable code, even dynamically linked if you like.

    #7 you didn’t mention SEO, the original thread of the conversation. IF Adobe really has made these improvements, and I’m not sure they have, Flex will be a serious technology for web apps.

    And your overarching argument of “Why don’t we see more sites built if Flash?” is confounded with the fact that all those websites were built in the past before Flex/SEO. Oh and also, Flex actually works, and it works well. FlexBuilder can use some touch up, but I’ve found it to be generally reliable and helpful environment. If I leave it up full-time it will crash for no apparent reason about once every week or two. This is probably due to the FlexBuilder plugin of Eclipse and not the underlying Eclipse config itself. Eclipse itself has a bit of a learning curve if you’re not familiar with it. It is extremely popular though so many people have made it over the hump.

    You may never forgive Macromedia for killing HomeSite, but should that really have any impact on how you choose technologies for your clients? I don’t think they really care about your vendetta.

    Believe it or not, I am totally independent and this is my view, however unpopular it may be with holy warriors.

  39. Brian

    Before you jump I misspoke. Median US download is 1.9Mbps (July 2007) or 4 secs for 1Mb. I hate those marketers. It’s still sub-second download time in your country (Canada) before optimizations.

  40. I don’t know where that speedmatters.org site got the information on Canada, but I can tell you for a fact that there’s no way that download speeds are in general 5x faster than they are in the States. Chances are that the only places that reported in from the Canadian standpoint came from the three major urban centres (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver), where broadband would be the default. These cities comprise 30% of the Canadian population, and don’t represent Canada as a whole. Like I said, there are many areas where broadband simply does not work.

    Many of the phone lines are still copper, and are not being upgraded…which pretty well eliminates DSL in those areas.
    There is a lot of new home construction and development that Bell Canada refuses to prepare itself adequately for, and the first thing that goes in that situation is DSL.
    Cable only works when there’s a group of people willing to use it (at least 5 or more). If not, you’ll have to pay the cable company $5000 for the initial install if you want it (that’s not an exaggerated figure either…that’s what Rogers wants to install any cable for a group of less than 5).
    There are even spots in Canada where dialup doesn’t work (they’re very remote areas of northeastern Ontario, Quebec, parts of the Northwest Territories, and I think Nunavut as well) but they do exist.

    II’d suggest to you that the statistical compilation provided is inaccurate at best. The Original Nick (at least he thinks he is) can shed some light on this subject as well. I’m not sure what the actual statistics are, but the speeds aren’t that high and the services aren’t that reliable. The only thing I can come up with that would increase the average is that there are spots (e.g. 151 Front Street West, Toronto…Google that address) that have an insane amount of bandwidth and, because the population here is relatively low, the average is that much easier to bring up.

    But enough about the mess that is Canadian broadband.

    You may never forgive Macromedia for killing HomeSite, but should that really have any impact on how you choose technologies for your clients? I don’t think they really care about your vendetta.

    Oh, I fully expect they don’t care what I think. I fully expect they don’t care what you think, either. We’re each one person. We’re drops in the bucket.

    And I wouldn’t use their destroying of HomeSite as the reason why I don’t find their technologies useful. I don’t find their technologies useful because…they’re useless. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it than that. If they’d help my customers, I’d use their stuff…and have.

    Do I like using Flash? Hell no. I hate it. But I’ll use it.

    As far as Flex is concerned, this goes back to one of my original arguments…why is it that we need an additional program to do things within Flash that cannot be included within Flash itself? And more importantly, what reason is there for faith that Macromediadobe has finally gotten anything right as far as the issues of SEO, accessibility, user-friendliness, ease of use from a developmental standpoint, and productivity are concerned? The former alone, assuming it’s not dealt with fully (and there’s reason to suspect it isn’t), suggests that Flex may not be the answer.

    The other thing that’s interesting in all this is how many people are talking about Flex. No offense, dude, but you’re the only person I’ve ever seen that’s mentioned Flex by name…and how does anyone here know that you don’t work for Adobe or in some capacity with them? I’m not saying you do…but it’s certainly a possibility. Online shills aren’t exactly a new phenomenon these days.

    Where are the apps that people are building with it? What does it really do? What doesn’t it do? Who’s using it for something practical? These are the questions that always go through my mind with any piece of technology, and most of the time, the technology fails…usually on the pragmatic question.

    This is my whole problem with the idea of Flex…if Flash can’t handle these issues, why would I think that Flex can? And why would I spend $250 to do things that I can do with HTML for nothing?

  41. Brian

    I’m honored to be the first person you’ve heard mention Flex by name. I have to admit, it also makes me a bit more confident in my arguments and less concerned about your countering viewpoints.

    No I don’t work for Adobe in any way and never have. I have worked for a cross-platform GUI tools company before the web really took off, and I’ve built my own (quite nice) AJAX framework long before the term was coined, among other things, so I’m in a pretty good position to spot and understand this type of technology.

    I certainly won’t be the last person to mention Flex to you, and I’m sure you will see the apps that people are building with it and what it can do in due time. It’s solid stuff, and fundamentally more powerful than anything that can be built on top of the lowest common denominator of HTML rendering engines, at least until native SVG support becomes the norm.

    The last argument of yours I will shoot down is what you call your “original” argument. If Flash can’t handle these issues, why should you think that Flex can? This one is easy. If the win32 API can’t handle all our needs why would we need MFC? If AWT can’t do what we need, why do we need Swing? If HTML can’t handle all our needs, why do we need AJAX? Flex is library of widgets on top of Flash that make UI design easy, fast and efficient, on a consistent platform with deep and wide penetration and potentially good SEO characteristics.

    Nice meeting you Adam. You made some good points. You can have the last word too; I’m outta here.

  42. I’m curious to know how this differs from the announcement that “Google is Indexing Flash” back in 2004?

    I was under the impression that reading the text & links inside a Flash file wasn’t the biggest issue… Trying to determine context & prioritize the information found *in* the Flash file appeared to be a problem.

    HTML/XHTML provides several options for modifying the “weight” of a particular chunk of text (, H tags, etc.), are Flash files still going to be at a disadvantage due to all of the extracted content being weighted evenly?

  43. Matt,

    Is there any chances of Google releasing a do and don’t or general tips needs to be followed while creating a flash based Web site?

  44. ilan

    i know this is an old thread, but i can’t really get a good answer anywhere.

    i want to know if Google can read and follow links that are inside of flash files in any way.

    thank you, if someone pick this up.

  45. Mtb888

    @ilan

    The same problem. i couldn’ find an answer.

  46. One of the reasons why we avoided Flash in our new site due was due to its SEO unfriendliness so its good to see that you are going some way to index flash content now but thats still not a good reason for us to use flash. Adobe are a great company with great products and Flash has its place in the web but not normally in any of my sites.

  47. So this means… that flash will be decreasing in the future? Already we see that CMS are taking the world… therefore the need for flash seems to be more of a early 2000′s …. are things and trends changing now?

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