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Flash & Interactive Media

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You have probably noticed that today a Web surfer sees less Flash rich websites on the Web — websites that rely heavily on SWF files. While Flash is to stay, the trend has been shifting towards utilizing Flash conservatively along with other new and modern Web technologies and solutions. Here are some updates (and background) on the latest developments of interactive technologies and solutions:

AJAX is a new technology for interactivity
Flash is no longer the only technology platform for creating interactivity. Newly developing AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) and HTML5 Web technologies are bringing in new ways to create animations and interactivity. AJAX brings dynamic data interactivity to Web pages in a deeper level. AJAX loads on a web page without having to reload the entire page each time when calling in action. Before AJAX, Flash was the only way to create interactivity without having to reload the web page each time. For instance, Flash used to be the only way to create interactive slideshows of images with transitional animation effects. Other option — before AJAX — was to create slideshows by loading images to unique html pages individually. The emerging AJAX technology has changed this: today slideshows can be coded with AJAX, for instance by utilizing a rich variety of customizable jQuery plug-ins (the most popular JavaScript library in use today). Austin Web design company Interaria is very excited about AJAX and the rich open source movement by jQuery. We specialize in integrating interactive components with content management systems in order for our clients to be independently able to add and edit web content without any coding requirements.

HTML5 is the new code platform for Web Video
HTML5 doesn’t perhaps sound all that fancy but it is a new developing programming language that is the next major revision of the HTML standard. HTML5 incorporates new features such as a video playback and a drag-and-drop technology that have been previously dependent on third-party browser plug-ins such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight. HTML5 video player especially will be useful for incorporating video to Apple iPhone and iPad that currently do not support Adobe Flash Player. Apple describes HTML5 as "open, reliable, highly secure, and efficient". This Apple’s endorsement doesn’t sound so sweet for Adobe, the maker of the Flash Player at the moment.

 iPhones & iPads  are changing user behavior
Currently Apple’s iPhone and iPad software (iOS4) does not come with a Flash Player. Apple decided not to support the Flash Player in their iPhones and iPads. This shift alone has forced the ascendance of new technologies, for instance substituting Flash video with HTML5 video. It is possible that Flash will have a strong rebound if it finds a direct route on to the iPhone. Just recently, Apple relaxed its controls and now allows the Flash program to export to the native iPhone / iPad programming language. Whether ignoring Flash is a smart idea by Apple or not, the reality is that today a growing number of users view Web content via iPhones and iPads.

 Need for Dynamic Web is Real 
Many companies with websites that utilize Flash media and Flash programmed content (developed several years ago) have experienced complications with updating and growing their websites. Most reasons for the jams are: a) Updating Flash media takes time and is expensive. Animating and re-coding Flash files require skilled professionals. "In-house" updates are not easy to do. b) Many Flash developers rather seek new work than want to spend hours updating "old" Flash movies. c) Flash movies are often coded and animated with a strong personal "handwritten" language. Flash developers are reluctant to work on Flash media developed by other developers. d) Flash program problems: older fla files don’t always open and convert cleanly in newer versions of the Flash program. And if a company as of today is still running a "LIV" Flash movie developed with LiveMotion, finding someone who knows and wants to update this movie is very difficult if not impossible. e) Flash movies are often locked with their pixel size and scale. In most cases this was deliberate choice to give the web presence a defined and controlled feel. Where as an HTML page may expand with new content almost indefinitely, websites developed wholly on the Flash platform tend to be more rigid with their structure. Adding several pages of new text is not an easy task if the website’s growth wasn’t seriously taken into account when developing the site.

Flash media can be managed and updated via a Content Management System. Interaria can create a Content Management System for the client to be able to upload photos to a slideshow or slogans to an animation. Interaria provides custom coded solutions utilizing a combination of technologies such as Flash, AJAX, PHP, and XML.

Competition in Search Engine Ranking results has become Fierce
The competition for search rankings has become fierce. Especially in today’s economic environment any "free" results are welcomed and companies don’t feel that they can lose any points in their decisions. Although Google has indicated since 2008 that it has learned to crawl through Flash based text and although there are ways to optimize Flash content and inject HTML text and code for Search Engines, the results are not very well documented. Many companies regard that Flash is simply not providing enough of a strong platform for beating the competition.

What symbolizes "modern" on the Web is fluid and keeps changing
Flash media has had a strong role in image and brand building. Several years ago, when XHTML language was still developing, advanced visual Web design that incorporates both text and images was only possible by using still JPGs/GIFs - or Flash. In this context, Flash was a superior choice. A company that could afford choosing Flash animations and interactivity over static and still Web presence would instantly gain points in its brand building. Flash media had a strong correlation to modern identity attributes such as trendy, leading, and current. Since Flash media development takes times and — to function optimally — it requires development work by skilled professionals, this format has/had a high-dollar association. These have all been real valid reasons to choose Flash. Today, instead of companies investing on Flash animations we are seeing stronger utilization of web video (thanks to the higher overall Internet connection speeds and better graphics cards in computers).

Social networking has also taken over some of the modern attributes. Although visuals are always important in any brand building, the emphasis on the Web has shifted from how you say it to what you say and how you interact. The Web has become a dynamic platform where users are looking to interact in a meaningful way. In this new democratic Web companies building and communicating their brands need to acknowledge the desire for true interactivity in order to gain respect.

 Nevertheless...Flash is here to stay 
Today, thanks to the wide range of technology options to create interactivity, the use of Flash is more than ever a well thought out choice. There are still many reasons to choose a Flash platform for certain Web elements. Some of the strongest key benefits of Flash (as of November 2010) are:
  • Flash provides visual cross-platform stability
  • Creative content published in SWF files is very hard to copy by a competition (without accses to FLA files)
  • Flash continues to be a valid platform for animations, creative media and 3D media (which can be developed with other software and integrated and published in Flash format)
  • Flash provides a platform for creative image and content viewing systems

 Interaria has a strong expertise in Flash animation and Flash media 
Austin Web design company Interaria has a strong background as a Flash animation and Flash media company. We’ve been developing Flash media practically since the birth of Flash software. Interaria’s years of background as a strong Flash design and development company helps us today to look at Flash development with a wide vision. We are able to design and integrate large sections of Flash content into a website and yet keep the site mapping navigatiable and even dynamic. Today the emerging XML technology allows us to create Flash media that can be more than ever before managed and updated by our client: For instance we can create a system where the client may edit photos in a Flash slideshow or slogans in a text animation. From the Web development point of view, we exercise economical and disciplined use of Flash technologies, always looking into the solutions first that cut down the development cost rather than increase it. In each decision or request made, our goal is always to educate our clients with all used technologies to fully assess the future maintenance and update work load for any content and/or feature.

New web developers today are not familiar with Flash and hence they typically rely only on available components on the market. If your company needs custom Flash animations or if your company runs Flash movies that need updates, don’t hesitate to contact us. Please don’t also hesitate to contact us with any questions such as the use of AJAX vs. Flash, Flash Players, Flash and modern Web browsers, integrating Flash with database and Web applications, Flash and IPhones, Flash and SEO, etc.

 Interaria is PHP/MySQL driven AJAX web development company 
Austin Web design company Interaria is a PHP/MySQL driven AJAX web development company. We provide all modern AJAX driven Web interfaces. Contact us for custom Web application solutions for creating interactive and modern user-experiences.

Interaria Web Design Dallas
Interaria Web Design Dallas