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Flash Player 8?

Nick Finck

October 25, 2004 at 8:35 AM

Some news on the Macromedia front today. It appears that Kevin Lynch demoed the next version of the flash player at a conference in Tokyo, Japan a few days ago. Some of the features include a new type-rendering engine, performance improvements, real-time bitmap effects, real-time video alpha channel. Which are all great and such, but lets hope they also have solved some of the accessibility and standards compliance issues with the product as well. See the link above for videos of the demo. [from Jason Santa Maria]

Comments

John Dowdell

October 25, 2004 at 11:38 AM

"...some of the accessibility and standards compliance issues...." Hi Nick, could you itemize your top current concerns, please? I haven't heard of changes along either line (even though it's still early days and just some of the directions under development were sneak-peek'd in Tokyo), but I'd still like to get your hottest requests forwarded, thanks. The current SWF accessibility info is at the "Flash" link on the main Macromedia Accessibility page: http://www.macromedia.com/macromedia/accessibility/ http://www.macromedia.com/macromedia/accessibility/features/flash/ (Recap: Sound-for-sight is enabled through system-level Microsoft Active Accessibility, but the little Player does not include hand-rolled substitutes for OS lacking such abilities (reasonably enough, as other pages would be difficult on such a system)... other modalities and enhancements are strongly design-influenced.) For "standards", I'm not sure what is sought... here are the top questions (and replies) that I've seen online: -- Want more HTML & CSS rendering. (SWF textfields don't render all HTML styles so tag access is hard; making a full HTML/CS renderer may make it as large as a typical HTML renderer.) -- Want full functionality without EMBED invocation. (Depends on the browser... many plugin-using browsers are moving to invocation via OBJECT (see Drew's "satay" piece), but please test that they actually offer full functionality without EMBED (parameter-passing, DOM location, offscreen compositing via WMODE, etc)). I'll try to stop back here later this week, but direct requests to the Macromedia Flash Player team can also be sent here: http://www.macromedia.com/go/wish Thanks, John Dowdell Macromedia Support

Nick Finck

October 25, 2004 at 12:12 PM

I think you covered some of my concerns here John. I think I was getting at the EMBED problems. I know there has been some work at Macromedia to just have one method of doing things so developers don't have to re-invent their own style of the wheel when they want to include Flash on a page. Note that this would also include sniffers as well... this has been a huge pain in the web development community and a big reason why so many developers have avoided using modest Flash in their sites. On the level of Accessibility... I am not an expert in this realm but I know there have been some major problems with using Flash on sites and what material can and can not be accessed. It's no longer practical to develop both a Flash version and a XHTML version of a site. Thankfully most designers are not using Flash for the entire UI of a web page, instead it's more of a controlled approach where just small elements are designed with Flash and the navigation and other key interaction points are being developed and designed using CSS, XHTML and simply graphics. There is also the issue of SEO. I haven't seen a whole lot on Macromedia's side that explains how one can make the content within Flash accessible to search engines outside of basically outputting the material in some XML form and then re-incorporating that into a XHTML page. I am sure there are several other issues that I am forgetting about at the moment, maybe some of the readers will chime in here. Overall, I know Macromedia is improving their product and trying to meet the need of their users, it would just be good to see where we site on the roadmap today.

John Dowdell

October 25, 2004 at 12:36 PM

Yuppers, search-engines are a tough subject to be definitive about, because the engine manufacturers don't write in detail about that ever-changing methods for fear of gaming the system. It's even trickier because there's a whole SEO industry which has sprung up, which doesn't always sell, errrr, the freshest or most valid information. For the basic issue, SWF is usually used to complement HTML, as GIF is, so getting good pointers to your hosting HTML page remains the key tactic. Any specialized data within the SWF is similar to information held in a database... you'd still want to make sure your HTML describes the content either way. If you come across people who have specific requests for the platform-neutral, browser-neutral Macromedia Flash Player, could you forward them that macromedia.com/go/wish address, please? I can't guarantee that every request will be fulfilled, but it's a necessary first step to accurately track what's important to people, month by month by month. Thanks! 8) jd/mm

Nick Finck

October 25, 2004 at 1:52 PM

John, good points. I think the thing for me is that most Flash designer's don't use it to complement XHTML.. they use it in place of XHTML. I still see sites with Flash navigation because the designer wanted some cool transition effect or what have you. Maybe a better best practices (or "proper use") guide would be handy? The articles on Macromedia's site address pure text content and how to make it accessible... but let's be honest, we don't use Flash just for displaying pure text content. We use it for displaying more complex interactions... along the lines of what we do when we mix CSS, JavaScript, XHTML, and the DOM up.

Ajmal Hamza (London, UK)

April 4, 2005 at 6:00 AM

Flash is very weak in rendering Unicode text especially Arabic and Hebrew which are rendered from Right to left. Most browsers and sofware (including Windows XP) support the right-to-left rendering engine. However, macromedia seems to have done nothing in this regard in the past. Right to left is not just used by Arabic and Hebrew, other languages as Pashto, Dari and Urdu also use the RTL standard. Wish Macromedia does something about it in the 8 version.

Mike

April 19, 2005 at 6:48 AM

I must say it really shock me to see that flash has a support for arabic and hebrew signs but dont have the possibility to show this text from right to left. So You dont need a support of arabic signs without this. It makes no sense. Dont know this? Look at the internet explorer utf-8 interpretation of arabic text. is absolutly correct. I worked a lot of time to solve the problem to get arabic text dynamicly in my movie and know it was for nothing. Thank you!

Ajmal Hamza

August 3, 2005 at 11:25 AM

The trouble is that Flash Player 8 Beta doesn't have support for right-to-left support (Arabic/Pashto/Hebrew) as well. Guess Macromedia doesn't want to get to their customers in South Asia and ME. Adobe seems to be good with RTL, Adobe Photoshop ME and Illustrator Me are good in rendering text from RTL. After aquiring Macromedia, guess adobe will add the RTL engine in some future release. (Normally future in Arabic is like 300 years!) Work arounds? Please share here! Aj

Grobey

September 1, 2005 at 10:37 PM

I got flash to display the RTL languages ok on win xp. you have to install the fonts on the system by going to settings, control panel, regional & language options, languages, install fonts for right to left languages. After they're installed then the words render correctly. There is a problem with placement of the full stops at the end of a paragraph but my workaround was to delete these & it seems fine

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