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Adobe Makes Flash Crawlable

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-about-cut-and-paste dept.

The Internet 232

nickull wrote in his journal that "Today Adobe systems made an announcement that it has provided technology and information to Google and Yahoo! to help the two search engine rivals index Shockwave Flash (SWF) file formats. According to the company, this will provide more relevant search rankings of the millions pieces of Flash content. Until now, developers had to implement workarounds for exposing text content used in Flash to search-engine spiders and other bots such as using XHTML data providers. While the Flash content is exposed, it is not yet clear how it will be utilized by the search engines, as they have not revealed their algorithms. The SWF specification is openly published."

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Silverlight (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014267)

Amazing what a little competition will bring...

hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014583)

Pretty sad, is it not? Your words were my exact thoughts. But it shows nicely what happens when a virtual monopoly occurs in the industry.

Re:hmmmm (2, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015933)

the sooner we get rid of flash the better, competition or not.

I hate these 'industry standards' that get used by everybody and their brother in applications where there are much better and open solutions.

To hell with flash, and no kudos for google/yahoo for helping this shite stay around longer.

Re:Silverlight (1)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015917)

Now all we need is for MS to promote their alternatives to PDF a bit more. God, I hate those horrible PDFs full of scanned page images. They should be OCR'ed by Google. I have like two gigs of them, and they're not *searchable* in any way, therefore they're not useful. (many years of old magazine archives...)

Re:Silverlight (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24015957)

Silverlight is competition?

Re:Silverlight (5, Insightful)

The Crooked Elf (1042996) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016003)

Frankly, though, I'm hoping that, rather than little feature additions like this, they do one of the following: * Make it NOT an absolutely ridiculous memory hog. * Invest some time in making it work with Firefox better (i.e., without the crashes). * Make it work under 64-bit because, frankly, it's really, really stupid that it doesn't. They've had half a decade now; I don't care how poorly written their code-base is.

GREAT! (5, Funny)

the4thdimension (1151939) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014275)

...now I can search directly for those great flash games I use to pass the time at work! What'll they think of next?

Re:GREAT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014323)

Next up, flash content will be useful without having to install a VM that executes untrusted 3rd party bytecode. You heard it first here folks!

/me returns to crack-pipe.

Re:GREAT! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014525)

It always surprised me there is no Linux distro that has gone trough the trouble of wrapping systrace [systrace.org] around the Flash plugin (or the entire browser?)

I would definitely like to have a Flash-enabled browser that runs in a sandbox, and has only access to some of its own files (to store cookies/settings/etc.) but does not have access to the rest of my homedir.

For me... (5, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014279)

...Flash always crawls. That's life on dialup.

Re:For me... (1, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014649)

...Flash always crawls. That's life on dialup.

You know, you can now use AOL with a high-speed connection, n00b. ;)

What Adobe should do (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014351)

Instead of (or in addition to) giving search engines information on Flash, Adobe should tell Flash users when not to use it. Avoid putting large texts in a Flash application and not offering the same in HTML. This is pretty obvious to everyone with half a brain, but "web developers" often seem to "forget".

Re:What Adobe should do (5, Insightful)

RangerRick98 (817838) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014423)

Agreed. I don't see why Flash content needs to be indexed by search engines, because no content worth indexing should be exclusively in Flash.

The only good things Flash has done are games and embedded video. Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible.

Re:What Adobe should do (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014681)

"Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible."

Not true (anymore). As of Flash 9, Adobe got some good accessibility implemented. You can have full keyboard accessibility within a Flash movie by enabling tabbing and setting tab indexes, as well as Section 508 support for screen readers. This was present in Flash 8 as well, but you had to jump through hoops just to enable it so it would work properly. Any flash files that aren't made accessible is due to programmer negligence and/or laziness. I still agree that web sites should be at most a mixture of Flash and regular HTML, but it's not as bad as you say.

Re:What Adobe should do (1, Flamebait)

ilovecheese (301274) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014769)

Agreed, Flash just sucks ass. So much, I disabled it. If I can't see it, it's not really worth looking at anyways.

In my opinion, any site that is done in plain flash, shows the designers lack of creative skill.

Re:What Adobe should do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24016143)

In my opinion, any site that is done in plain flash, shows the designers lack of creative skill.

Or that you are not their target audience, oh wait...that would would mean the world does not revolve around you and there are other people other then you with other opinions that conflict with yours.

Really, if you hate flash don't use it...the world is not going to follow you, like it or not. Bitching about your dislike is not going to change anyone's opinion, accept things for what they are and move on.

Re:What Adobe should do (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014841)

My company and a couple others that friends of mine work for are all currently re-writing their web front ends to use flex exclusively. Granted in all of these cases, these software packages are intended for internal corporations - there are a growing number of developers using Flex for general web sites because it eliminates cross browser compatibility issues. If you don't know anything about Flex, you should head over to Adobe's web site and read up on it.

Re:What Adobe should do (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014907)

Right...and I think that's the point that's being missed. Currently, Flash is just as you've said, an obscure corner of the web for those high-interactive, non-critical bits.

This move indicates that Adobe would greatly prefer to have Flash's reputation expand beyond "nothing critical" as we move into a future of richer online apps. The main things holding Flash back are 1) it's a separate plugin and 2) it's not indexable. (One could argue that security would've been a major issue, but Flash CS3 has cleaned that area up significantly, before it became a major deal-breaker). Now, problem 1 is practically solved once a user encounters Flash content, since there's plenty of clean, effective ways to point users to the Flash player if it's missing, and more and more users find themselves getting it these days (thanks, youtube). Problem 2, though, has persisted--you don't want to bother making a web page that nobody can find. If Adobe can solve this, their platform can move into being a major content delivery problem.

Re:What Adobe should do (1)

rihteri (720269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015963)

There is only one working plugin, and it is proprietary software. Call me zealot, but that sounds like a main thing holding flash back. If you need a clue, think accessibility with anything other than a windows/linux/mac computer.

Re:What Adobe should do (1)

crusty_yet_benign (1065060) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015113)

...but since the content hasn't been indexed yet, and you can't possibly KNOW what's in every Flash file ever, your grounds for dismissing Flash are...debatable.

Re:What Adobe should do (5, Insightful)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015183)

You don't index the web as it should be, you index the web as it is.
"Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible." - probably yes, but there are such websites in noticeable amounts, so indexing them properly is a good thing. And maybe that will make them more accessible - via a deep link to the content you want, bypassing their flash menus.

Re:What Adobe should do (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015893)

Except when the site is 98% flash and the remaining 2% is just setup to point the browser at the flash objects. If at all possible, I stop going there at that point.

Re:What Adobe should do (1)

nx6310 (1150553) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015629)

consdering applications built for a user base that doesn't have full support for multilingual processing, flash applications and animation present a relatively feasible solution technology and financially, so to say:

no content worth indexing should be exclusively in Flash

Is to stay screw whoever needs it. And thats alienation, which is exactly what standards are against, which is actually what Adobe is trying to make flash comply with.

Re:What Adobe should do (1)

h4nk (1236654) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016139)

Agreed. I don't see why Flash content needs to be indexed by search engines, because no content worth indexing should be exclusively in Flash.

The only good things Flash has done are games and embedded video. Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible.

No offense to the poster, but this is an outdated view of flash and its capabilities. With the advent of Flex, many amazing web apps are being created that eclipse the functionality and cross-platform reliability of the latest generation of browsers. It is true that Flash is overkill for something that could be created solely with xhtml/javascript/css, but the mistakes that some developers make in how and why they implement does not mean that the RIA's created in flash/flex can't benefit from search engine visibility.

Re:What Adobe should do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24015737)


Why would adobe ever want to do that? Adobe wants the web to run on flash - it gives them a nice exclusive proprietary platform which they can then charge nicely for. Admittedly, they give away flash plugins now - any reason that should always be the case? Better yet, since it is proprietary and tightly controlled, they can change the platform at will and ensure it remains that way. The only way this would change would be if there were multiple vendors or open source implementations - and we know how well thats going along. That still does not preclude Adobe arbitrarily changing the "standard"


Of course, I'll admit to disliking flash intensely. For the most part it seems to be used (other than video, a few games and some interactive applications) as ways to deliver Must Read advertising and similar content to the browser. HTML makes it possible to browse pages as you want to, Flash makes that difficult and makes it easier for the marketing group to decide that you need to spend three minutes on that ad loaded, noisy, ugly (bring back blink!) page before you can go on to the real content.

Re:What Adobe should do (1, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016117)

Web developers dont use flash, thats what Web designers do.

Their heads are up in the clouds and the web developers are left to clean up the mess.

Flash content stuck in Search index (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014353)

What for ? You cannot navigate directly to a specific part/page in the Flash anyway.
I'd prefer search results not to be poluted by content that doesnt come up directly...

Re:Flash content stuck in Search index (3, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015839)

Uhh... there are now several ways for flash developers to allow deep linking in to flash... it uses a hash and directory structure with javascript to pass the url into flash, which then auto loads or skips to the content being requested.

This is not new, it's been around for 2 years now.

Here's a site I built in just such a fashion:

http://www.soursweetgone.com/flash/#/friends/punk-a-friend/ [soursweetgone.com]

This section of the site lets you upload a photo, morph it using a displacement map filter to either spherize or pinch the photo.. don't forget to zoom in on the good part... then you can email the results with a message to anyone. (yes we collect your info, but it's a candy company... your choice).

No credible open source alternative to Flash. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014359)

I've always been surprised that even after over a decade, a credible open source alternative to Flash never arose. We'll likely have usable and open source Silverlight implementations in the near future, so not all is lost.

Regardless, I always expected an open source alternative to Flash to offer better support for web spiders. But with this new system from Adobe, I think we'll see a lot of mis-labeling of Flash content attributes. That in itself will render the system useless, for the most part.

Re:No credible open source alternative to Flash. (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014573)

I think it's because "Flahs" is simply not worthy.

Oh great (4, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014361)

Now we'll get black hat SEOs keyword stuffing flash files and adding flash widgets all over the place. /me never enabled flashblock before, but he might soon.

That's unfortunate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014371)

I'd be much happier if the search engines quit linking to flash-only websites completely. Then maybe those horrible things would go away.

I can't think of any case where I've seen a Flash-only site where Flash added anything of substance (cuteness doesn't count), and they tend to be hard and non-standard to navigate, break key bindings (like CTRL-T to open a new tab doesn't work if mouse is over Flash), etc.

Here is an example: A business association's website was redesigned in Flash. Instead of their staff page having a simple list of photos, names, job titles and phone numbers that you could search by hitting CTRL-F, the flash version just shows a photo of all of the staff members and you can only find the job titles and contact info by holding the mouse over the appropriate person's photo. So, if you want to find the contact info for the newsletter producer and you don't already know what he/she looks like, you have to move your mouse over each of 15 different photos until you find the right one. Stupid. There is just too much dumb stuff going on with Flash.

Re:That's unfortunate (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015491)

Here is an example: A business association's website was redesigned in Flash. Instead of their staff page having a simple list of photos, names, job titles and phone numbers that you could search by hitting CTRL-F, the flash version just shows a photo of all of the staff members and you can only find the job titles and contact info by holding the mouse over the appropriate person's photo. So, if you want to find the contact info for the newsletter producer and you don't already know what he/she looks like, you have to move your mouse over each of 15 different photos until you find the right one. Stupid. There is just too much dumb stuff going on with Flash.

What does that have to do with Flash?

I hate to break this to you, but I could implement the same thing in Javascript really easily. Or even a Windows app, if I wanted.

You're blaming the tool for something that is the fault of the developer who sold this crappy site. (Well, and your associate who apparently contracted the developer without checking out the quality of his work before.)

Re:That's unfortunate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24015875)

I hate to break this to you, but I could implement the same thing in Javascript really easily. Or even a Windows app, if I wanted.

Yes, you can do dumb things with other tools if you try to. But, my point is that such dumb things are common and somewhat encouraged by Flash. Plain old HTML provides a basic user interface that works reasonably well. It's not fancy, but it works. If you try hard enough with JavaScript you can muck things up, but things work reasonably well by default; things only go horribly wrong when developers try to move beyond the basics and make bad decisions in the process. Flash gives you a lot more control over the user interface, but without a basic standard starting point for page structure and navigation (as far as I know). So every Flash developer builds his/her own little custom method of navigation, and many lack sensible functionality, worrying more about cuteness instead. Basic things like hitting CTRL-F to search within a page, or being able to bookmark after navigating around get broken.

You're blaming the tool for something that is the fault of the developer who sold this crappy site.

Is it possible to create a decent website in pure Flash? Perhaps. Is it possible to put a screw into a wall with a hammer? Yes, but it's not the best approach. In practice, pure-Flash websites rarely work well, and that's because Flash isn't a good tool for that particular job. Adobe's website isn't pure Flash. That should tell you something.

Re:That's unfortunate (1)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015929)

actually you don't even need that, an imagemap with the title attribute set for the href's would probably do it. ;)

the problem with flash is that flash developers feel the need to justify using flash (when html would do nicely) by doing stupid crap like this -- otherwise, why hire flash people? hence the problem with the technology as opposed to the developer.

Don't get me wrong, I like flash in certain applications - but about 70% of the flash content thats out there is not only sucky, but harmful.

Re:That's unfortunate (2, Interesting)

superflippy (442879) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015591)

One example I've come across in the last few months where Flash is actually useful is for photographers' web sites. They're often paranoid about people copying the photos off their sites, yet they need to show their work so they'll get hired.

Putting their portfolios into a Flash slideshow is a good compromise. Of course, anyone who can make screenshots can still copy their photos, but it adds a little extra security.

Though, too many (IMO) go too far and have whiz-bang all-Flash sites with unnecessary bells and whistles. It's fine to use Flash for a specific purpose, but when you add animation, background music, etc. it detracts from the product being promoted (i.e. photography).

Re:That's unfortunate (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015725)

That's just dumb web design. I've seen plenty of (X)HTML sites that are equally, if not more, retarded. Don't shoot the messenger. Flash, even full-page flash apps (RIA, rich web apps aka Flex), have their uses. Try using a full-page Google Maps Flex application and tell me you don't think it has uses :)

Re:That's unfortunate (0)

paulgrant (592593) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015891)

simple solution - shoot the designer.

Re:That's unfortunate (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015899)

That's not a problem with Flash... that was a dumb move on the company to let someone hide their employees contact info that way.... if I had done it, I would have tied it to a database/CMS and provided an autosuggest search box at the bottom, then highlighted the photo/person when an individual was selected from the search and showed their contact info in a selectable text box below.... with a button to download their vCard.

The only problem with Flash is that the lowest common denominator is much less accessible both to humans and computers than an html page... even the worst html page is searchable by the browser.

Re:That's unfortunate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24016175)

That's not a problem with Flash... that was a dumb move on the company to let someone hide their employees contact info that way.... if I had done it, I would have tied it to a database/CMS and provided an autosuggest search box at the bottom, then highlighted the photo/person when an individual was selected from the search and showed their contact info in a selectable text box below.... with a button to download their vCard.

The only problem with Flash is that the lowest common denominator is much less accessible both to humans and computers than an html page... even the worst html page is searchable by the browser.

I agree with everything you said, except the "That's not a problem with Flash" part. My whole point is that a very basic HTML page designed by a novice will have decent functionality by default (you can search within the page with CTRL-F, data isn't hidden, bookmarking works, etc.). Flash doesn't supply such basic functionality by default, so you only get a page with good usability if you put a lot of work into it. Many designers of Flash-only pages don't put that amount of work into it, so the result is web pages with poor functionality. It may be possible to create decent web pages in Flash, but it doesn't seem to happen very often. Since pointy-haired bosses are too often satisfied with "ooh, shiny" a lot of websites go down the Flash path based on the website being cute rather than it being functional. Being able to say "but Google will ignore our website" was a powerful way send the pointy-haired bosses in a better direction when they wouldn't be willing to spend the effort to do Flash right (i.e. just make it look good and then stop before worrying about functionality).

Here's hoping... (5, Funny)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014375)

Hopefully it'll crawl under a rock and die.

but how would you direct link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014383)

We've had flash decompilers for years to extract (text and graphic) content, I think this is just Adobe giving them format permission.

But most flash components cannot be linked to directly so what exactly is the search engine going to point to? The parent page? A visitor may never find the relevant sub-page and abandon browsing the site.

silverlight (0, Redundant)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014399)

it took adobe longer than i thought it would do do this, as this was one of the core functionalities of MS Silverlight.

Something about this makes me uncomfortable... (5, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014405)

...matter of fact, it makes my Flash crawl!

Great! (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014425)

Now all they have to do is make it so, when you make a web site in Flash, you can link directly to the "page" you want. And make the Flash plugin fast. And make it not crash so often. Oh and then, finally, come up with a real reason as to why we should use Flash instead of something else.

Once they do that, it'll be a great little format.

Re:Great! (2, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014561)

Now all they have to do is make it so, when you make a web site in Flash, you can link directly to the "page" you want.

That has been possible for years. Possibly ever since the first version, I'm not sure. You use a fragment identifier in the link and check it to find out which "page" to display.

There's enough wrong with Flash that misrepresenting it is unnecessary and only serves to discredit you in the eyes of people who know better.

Re:Great! (1)

geordie_loz (624942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014739)

You need to build this into the flash when creating as far as I know. With html based sites no special work is required to make a page bookmarkable (aside from some ajax stuff, or in-page anchors).

I would welcome this if it is clear that it's flash content (like PDFs) in the search results, so I can make a judgment accordingly.

Re:Great! (2, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014945)

You need to build this into the flash when creating as far as I know.

Yes, that's true. Emphasis added to the comment I was replying to:

Now all they have to do is make it so, when you make a web site in Flash, you can link directly to the "page" you want.

nine-times was specifically talking about options available to developers.

With html based sites no special work is required to make a page bookmarkable (aside from some ajax stuff, or in-page anchors).

That's usually true, but like you say, there are exceptions, and it's not just the ones you mention. Frames, for example, cause similar problems, and JavaScript too (not just Ajax).

I would welcome this if it is clear that it's flash content (like PDFs) in the search results, so I can make a judgment accordingly.

I'm not sure if you are aware of this (a lot of people here don't seem to be), but search engines already index Flash. Google example [google.com] . Yes, Flash results are identified in the same way PDF results are.

This isn't a new feature, it's Adobe helping search engines improve the indexing they already do.

Re:Great! (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016077)

nine-times was specifically talking about options available to developers.

Actually, what I had in mind when I wrote it was this: Even if Google (or some other search engine) can index the Flash file, what do they link to? Does it just link to the Flash file, and then I have to go clicking around to navigate the Flash file looking for the text relevant to my search? Or will Google be able to link straight to the portion that I was searching for?

AFAIK, it's not so simple to link into the Flash file, but correct me if I'm wrong.

And yes, I'm sure I could have stated it better, but I was trying to be glib.

That's usually true, but like you say, there are exceptions, and it's not just the ones you mention. Frames, for example, cause similar problems, and JavaScript too (not just Ajax).

Yeah, personally I'm not such a big fan of frames either. And I do think people should be careful about their use of Javascript (and AJAX) to make sure it's used sensibly.

Re:Great! (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016015)

Uh... you have to do this in HTML as well... it's just that people have already incorporated it into their workflow, whereas for Flash there are still a lot of developers who don't know how to do it.

Think about what HTML sites would be like if everything was in one page. AKA MySpace pages....

This is how most current Flash sites are. They don't architect them, they 'Design' them.... so you end up with one big page and no bookmarks or other ways to programmatically access the content.

Re:Great! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014989)

I dunno, I think that's a minor point. The rest of his points were valid about the how much flash sucks.
But if it makes you feel better, I'll add a few more.

No 64bit version of the plugin.
When your cursor is over a flash object in a page, you lose the ability scroll with your mouse.
Flash based site navigation removes the ability to use your browser controls (back, forward, refresh) as they were intended.

Flash is moderately useful as video player for things like youtube, for just about any other use it's 100% garbage and should be avoided at all costs.

Re:Great! (2, Informative)

heinzkunz (1002570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015005)

> Now all they have to do is make it so, when you make a web site in Flash, you can link directly to the "page" you want.

Flex Builder 3 has support for deep links (they were possible before, but now it's in the framework), so a link from a search result directly to the searched item should be possible.

You may want to take a closer look at why Flash is slow for you. The player is really fast. It's a decent virtual machine and graphics engine. If you have a flash 9 plugin, take a look at this page: http://papervision3d.org/ [papervision3d.org] It's a 3d engine with texturing support that's usable on a current computer. It is impossible to touch that performance using a web browser without plugins. Flash is only slow if it's used in a stupid way (playing multiple video ads on a page) or programmed for by incompetent people (hobby coders, designers).

I believe that Flash is a good platform, but as long as a single company can run it all into the ground, we can't rely on it. What is really missing is an open source flash player (Gnash is not good enough, I want Adobe to open up the player).

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24015457)

You seem to be intelligent, I have a sincere question: Flash works great for me until I run it in full screen. Then it slows down to about .5 frame/second (no exaggeration - it's unwatchable.) I've looked and can't seem to find the reason why, except maybe my graphics driver? I'm user Omega Drivers because my laptop manufacturer hasn't updated the video drivers in years for my laptop (chemusa) It used to work fine until I reformatted. :-/

XP Home / 2 GB RAM / Ati x600 128MB

Re:Great! (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015767)

I don't know what OS you use, or what flash version you use, or how old your computer is, but all of those "issues" ceased being issues years ago. Flash, especially AS3, is fast. It most definitely has uses, such as rich web applications. Seeing as many companies are offering traditional software served over the net, a technology that allows fast 100% OO cross-platform applications seems like a great idea.

This seriously sucks (4, Insightful)

Micah (278) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014449)

The fact that search engines couldn't index Flash was a strong argument against its use for textual content. With that excuse gone, more webmasters might consider using it.

Only problem is, Flash for textual content is HORRIBLE. Totally ruins the consistent experience I want with my web browser. Flash text does not behave like HTML text in several ways.

I really hope this doesn't encourage more Flash content from point-n-drool webmasters ...

Re:This seriously sucks (0, Offtopic)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014589)

Your comment and signature bear a striking resemblance to one another.

Re:This seriously sucks (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014613)

I suspect that with the rise of Javascript libraries for interactive content and animation, the ubiquity of Canvas and SVG, the lack of Flash on the mobile Safari platform, and the general annoyance of animated ads and intro pages, Flash is on its way out. Silverlight's prospects for competing in a shrinking market are also dim.

There was a time you could do things with Flash you couldn't otherwise do. I have trouble coming up with anything that fits that description now, however. All we're really missing, in order for Flash to go the way of Java, is for someone to make a web development application that streamlines development with Mootools or a similar toolkit.

Re:This seriously sucks (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016133)

I use both Flash and Javascript/DOM scripting for sites I build. I pick the right tool for the job.

When a site just needs a little extra punch I go with JQuery (personal favorite for all things Javascript). When it needs to be a front end to an application I use ExtJS (awesome UI controls and great support for JSON data structures and templating)

When a site needs to be truly animated though, with characters moving around and video integration with content... Flash is the only way to go. I can stream audio and video, synch it with XML cuepoints, map it to a 3D surface and let the user interact with the results - tweak the audio using a waveform UI or sliders to mess with the video RGB/effects/transformations, etc. I can even embed a physics engine and give objects gravity, velocity and mass so they can interact with each other and the user.

You can't do that with anything else.

Re:This seriously sucks (4, Insightful)

Uzuri (906298) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014691)

If they make it "crawlable", though, wouldn't that mean that the text is available to be read somewhere? And that means it's only a matter of time before someone designs a Flash translator that pulls the content (and say, LINKS?! #$%&@ flash developers) and turns it into straight XHTML.

I'd pay for that.

Re:This seriously sucks (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014909)

Webmasters? The desire to barf Flash all over a page comes from "online marketing managers" (which I am), executives, people near the top of the pyramid and, by and large, people who just don't get it. These individuals will preface every decision with "when I browse I do", or "people don't want to do X, they want to do Y", often without a shred of evidence and, even more infuriatingly, in direct contradiction of someone who took the time to analyze the data in the first place.

Flash has its place, but it's a very narrow place and this announcement has removed one of my biggest trump cards (re: "no you can't have your retarded dancing monkey on the homepage, it wont bring in visitors and thus we'll lose revenue")

Re:This seriously sucks (1)

Tangamandapiano (1087091) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015101)

I really hope this doesn't encourage more Flash content from point-n-drool webmasters ...

You're so ingenuous...

Re:This seriously sucks (1)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015401)

I hate it too. Seriously, it's either too big, too small, an absurd font or something worse. Furthermore, I usually can't select text, which is important for two reasons - one, I need to do it to read long chunks of text (yes, need to. If I can't, I usually can't read it). Two - copy and paste! I don't want to send my friend to your shitty Flash website to tell him 4 sentences they need to know.

Re:This seriously sucks (1)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016109)

"Flash for textual content is HORRIBLE. Totally ruins the consistent experience I want with my web browser."

Very true. Which brings the question: anyone knows a tool which extracts text from flash pages?

Flash (4, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014451)

For a start, "crawlable" does not mean it WILL be crawled. More likely, most flash will contain nothing but junk and internals that were never meant to be seen anyway. I wonder when the first "we recovered a password that was stored inside a flash file" / "we googled for vulnerable flash apps and found these" hits will come about. And, as someone's already pointed out, if you *can* extract the text from them, you can't do much useful with it besides say "it's in this Flash somewhere". You can't even do "find in page" once you've clicked on such a link. And if it's at the end of an hour-long Flash animation, you're not going to sit through it.

Then you'll have some people who have actually used bitmaps instead of text inside the Flash for various reasons, etc. The only useful thing to come out of this may well be a "View as HTML" version of Flash-only pages. But they will still be second-class pages because the designer didn't want to do it theirselves.

Given that people who use Flash aren't exactly the most popular people in the world (e.g. if you want it to appear in Google, be read by people, to be bookmarked, to be quoted/cited/linked etc.), this won't affect much - Finding content in a Flash file is like looking for a needle in a haystack. That's the problem solved by this announcement. However, finding *useful* content in that file is going to be even worse, and actually getting users TO that data will be almost impossible.

I imagine that the same thing will happen as it did with images, PDF's, etc. Those who design their Flash well will get something indexed and it'll actually get a hit or two from "View HTML Version" on Google. Those who don't (i.e. 99% of the people who make them) won't see any difference at all.

Re:Flash (2, Interesting)

Zekasu (1059298) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014607)

If you store a password in a Java applet in a string, you can download that applet and open it in Notepad to find it. I'm assuming this is the same in SWF documents.

Also considering you can pretty much disassemble SWF files, well, that's your fault.

Although I do agree that being able to search Google for vulnerable Flash applications is a major concern, I'm to go out on a limb and say that Adobe, coupled with Google, are going to do something like only make text-containing boxes into crawl-able material.

That aside, I'm hoping that search engines also implement a "only display results without Flash content" feature.

Meaningful links into complex flash apps? (1)

geomobile (1312099) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014485)

Thinking about classic "flat & linear" Flash movies this makes sense. But Flash is used as an application platform more and more (think of Flex).

Somebody please explain how Google is going to link into complex applications in a meaningful way.

Maybe they should introduce a standard interface that Flash apps could expose that allows Google to get content from the app together with startup arguments that would put the app into a meaningful state. Otherwise the Google result link would just start the app without any further indication where the content is.

Is there such an interface? Or may be this belongs into sitemap.xml...

Re:Meaningful links into complex flash apps? (1)

heinzkunz (1002570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015057)

> Somebody please explain how Google is going to link into complex applications in a meaningful way. Using deep links: http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Flex_3:Feature_Introductions:_Deep_Linking [adobe.com]

Re:Meaningful links into complex flash apps? (1)

geomobile (1312099) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015411)

Can google generate working/meaningful deep links from reading an SWF file?

TFA was talking about new possibilities for Google that come from reading and indexing content in SWF files.

I don't get it (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014521)

Why would I want search engines crawling through my thumb-drive?



OK, before you mod me troll, that was a joke.

Any impact? (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014549)

Hasn't Google already indexed and crawled .SWF files? How would releasing the SWF specification make things any different than before, when there were other widely available free SWF parsing libraries?

Re:Any impact? (1)

heinzkunz (1002570) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015109)

Yes, the Search Engine Kit is not new. I don't think there have been any significant developments, maybe they just want to stay on the radar.

Re:Any impact? (1)

biovoid (785377) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015197)

Google can currently index the static textual content embedded within a SWF file. What it cannot do is crawl any dynamic content that the SWF file subsequently loads (XML, web-services, other SWF files etc).

Adobe has provided to Google and Yahoo a version of the Flash Player that effectively crawls the UI of a Flash application as if it was a human (much like current search engines crawl HTML pages) - any dynamic/external content is therefore also indexed.

A Good Thing (3, Interesting)

intx13 (808988) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014563)

I'll deride slow-loading, unintuitive Flash apps as much as the next guy, but this is a big step towards Flash a viable alternative to the HTML/XHTML/Javascript/CSS/PHP jumble that makes up the Web today. Other things that still need addressing (IMO) to make a true Flash web:
  • Flash-to-Flash linking
  • More natural and useful text objects
  • Standardized framework for GUI elements
  • Real accessibility

If these things could get cleared up, I wouldn't mind seeing a Flash Web... where Flash isn't a box in the center of an HTML page, but the basic protocol itself (like what Curl claims to be).

Of course given the cludginess of most Flash apps, maybe I'm just being a masochist here!

Re:A Good Thing (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014799)

For any app for which Flash gives real benefits over plain HTML, the textual content is going to be dynamically loaded from the server anyway, so this change buys nothing. For annoying little Flash ads and annoying big animated full page Flash "sites" that break the browser's back button, it might make a difference.

Re:A Good Thing (2, Informative)

biovoid (785377) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015247)

RTFA - Adobe has provided a version of the Flash Player that allows search engines to crawl dynamically loaded content. That's the whole point of the article. Google has been indexing static SWF content for years - this is all about dynamic content.

An off button (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014863)

What will be essential for a flash-web is an off button that lets me turn off any flashy repeating flickering and flashing adverts or other pieces of flashing content on a page.
I am not a small kitten that wants to look at the bright flashy thing. if I'm at your website, I'm likely looking for information, so stop flashing at me.
there is a good reason amazon and google don't have flashing animations anywhere.

Proprietary Solution - NOT A Good Thing (1)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015595)

HTML, etc. is a jumble. But it's an Open jumble.

Nuff said.

Am I the only one... (4, Funny)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014579)

... who read the title as "Adobe Makes Flesh Crawl"? My first thought was, yeah, so what else is new?

This will be annoying (1)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014631)

You guys think it's great until advertisers start making their crappy "You've won a free ipod" flash ads searchable.

I misread the subject (0, Redundant)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014637)

I read it twice, and could have sworn it said:

Adobe Makes FLESH Crawlable

My first thought was yes, it sometimes does make my flesh crawl, but why is this a headline here it isn't, um, let's not name the site.

Then I realized my mistake and thought well, that's nice but just not as interesting...

Re:I misread the subject (1)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015219)

My own thought was Adobe makes trash searchable. Always a good thing if you ever happen to lose a valuable object in your trash.

I have yet to find any value in Flash other than its ability to lock my computer up and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

Actionscript programmers reading this please tell me it is just sloppy programming causing this? ... No?
It really is just crap?

Re:I misread the subject (1)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015239)

I had problems with the word "crawlable", as if it was whispering "don't try to say me, you'll regret it!" . But then I tried and it was easy, really. I'm sure there's a wise lesson there somewhere. Just goes to show eh, something.

Vote Wesley Snipes For President 2008 talk hard (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24014805)

LETTER TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ASLEEP:

If people stopped paying taxes and voted for wesley snipes for president, maybe the people would once again rule instead of a separate government represented by fat apes who sell out to corporations and big Pharma.

Maybe one day WE the people will be in charge, but for now, you're fucked slaves who repeat the lie, "Only thing certain in life is death and taxes!" No, only death and slavery, and slavery itself is a form of living death.

You hate the war in Iraq?
Hate puppet dictatorships being propped up by your government?
Hate the immoral and unjust war on drugs?
If you're paying taxes, YOU are aiding and abetting crimes you don't agree with, posting on your blog or shaking your fist in the air at rallies does nothing, YOUR money continues to support IMMORAL actions (if you believe them to be immoral).

Recently I heard a report about America losing the war against taliban opium poppy growers. There's a simple and cheap solution to this problem: The American government should tell every American farmer they must grow opium poppies, and encourage American citizens to do likewise, to sprinkle the seed everywhere. But they won't do it, why? Because this would cut the profits from big Pharma for their overpriced pain medications, some of which are dangerous to your liver! Instead you could go right to the source and use what nature has given us, but no, in the land of the free, THAT would be ILLEGAL! You must instead decide to beg for a pain reliever to the point man (your doctor) who will then decide whether or not you're allowed to have it, and then you're on file with the big pharma protection agency. If everyone in America was told by the government to grow opium poppies, or just farmers, imagine what would happen to the so-called crops in other countries going to terrorists? The demand would fall flat and the prices would plummet, bye bye extra cash for the bad guys!

IT IS ALL BULLSHIT, you know it, I know it, but when you pay taxes, you continue to fund the bullshit.

But if you stop paying taxes, you'll probably end up in jail, where non violent marijuana smokers/growsers end up getting pounded in the ass by violent gang members and your anus being filled with diseased gangland semen. This is your land of the free. Be sure to wave to the helicopters flying over your house with FLIR checking to see if you're growing marijuana to take away from crooked Law Enforcement income, the failed war on drugs, war against nature, wave to the drones looking for evil marijuana in the forests and other areas, wave to the DEA as they bust marijuana care clinics, wave to your flag made in a communist country.

But you don't care, it's another night of (entertainment choice) before you're off to work again to make more money to pay your slavery tax.

Enjoy your worthless life, you'll be forgotten, but the history of illegal actions taken by your government, which you payed into, won't.

You're all on par with scared chimps in a cage clicking the crack button for another hit.

Talk Hard + So Be It - pump up the volume movie

Animated Ads (0, Redundant)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014807)

Animated Ads always make my flash crawl!

Flash doesn't suck (1)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 5 years ago | (#24014921)

Flash doesn't suck, it's a great tool when properly used. The thing is that HTML was so hard to learn for the common "web designer" that they've used Flash to solve all their needs. Even Adobe doesn't use Flash for the entire site, they never did, including Maromedia. It's great for videos and when you need some rich media experience INDISE a web site, but making a WHOLE site using Flash is like using glass to build an entire house, including the pipes.

Back to the point, I guess there's nothing wrong to index flash content meanwhile they refer to those little spaces with media inside HTML web sites. I'd hate this to rocket the entire-Flash sites industry.

Re:Flash doesn't suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24015333)

Vs. what...all html/php sites?!?!

Let's Face it (1)

neuromancer23 (1122449) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015043)

While Flash/ActionScript sucks it doesn't suck nearly as much as trying to write rich user interfaces in the abominable JS and HTML, and at least there is some attempt at object orientation and you can get similar behavior across browsers and operating systems. But yeah Flash still sucks big fat rhino cock, as anyone who has ever tried to use a/v other than the built in codecs will tell you, and open-source support for flash is non-existent. This is good news however if it inspires Java content to do the same thing. Maybe then we can write rich web interfaces in a language that doesn't blow goats and HTML, JS, and Flash can all receive the horrible death that they have deserved for so long.

Re:Let's Face it (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015279)

JS and HTML for RIA only sucks for the people making the frameworks :) (I really pity them). For the rest of us, well... let just say ExtJS is really, really sweet.

Re:Let's Face it (1)

neuromancer23 (1122449) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016121)

Yeah until you try to write JS of your own and realize that the thir part AJAX library you are using has radically modified the DOM. Actually, JS and HTML probably would have been fine if JS was really object oriented and it weren't for Microsoft. We would never have had any problems if the w3c had done the same thing that Sun did with Java: provide a TCK and trademark HTML, that way when Microsuck subverted the standard, the w3c could have sued the fuck out of that Nazi weasel bill gates. Java works beautifully everywhere across platform and that's because Sun had the foresight to act not only out of charity but with a little god damn common sense as well.

Anyway, we can take some comfort in the fact that there may be a hell, and if there is Bill Gates will certainly burn there.

Someone not invited to the party? (3, Insightful)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015103)

So only Google & Yahoo were "provided technology and information" - Microsoft must be feeling left out.. lucky for adobe they dont live in sweden [forumeter.com] I suppose.

I wonder why adobe didn't invite msft/live.com to the party? Sour grapes over silverlight [mashable.com] perhaps?

Interesting! (1)

nickgs (937659) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015287)

This is good news. It seems everybody hates on Flash here. I am a fan BUT its like everything else, use in moderation!

Any of you who have dealt with real customers know that many of them like to see flash on their page and are willing to pay a premium for it!! It is our responsibility to let them know the proper pro's and con's.

Lets face it, there is some very innovative things being done with the player today. Personally, like many things on the web, this excites me.

Ok, now how do we get it (3, Interesting)

Paul Carver (4555) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015303)

This would be great if it can be implemented directly into web browsers. For example, a Firefox plugin that allows me to specify "view text only" for Flash content.

Or is this "proprietary" information that will only be given to Google and Yahoo and not shared with the us commoners?

I don't know what brain damage causes people to think that they should present text a half a dozen words at a time in a slideshow, but it would be great if my browser would default to showing me all the text from a flash slideshow and then let me choose if I really want to see it pieced out a few words at a time.

Predictable responses... (0)

cherokee158 (701472) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015391)

...from the /. crowd. Would it cost you all your geek cred to admit that Flash is a useful web technology whose shortcomings are more the fault of how it's used than anything inherently wrong about it?

Seriously, flash was there long before everyone started going on about web 2.0, and the geeks still crapped on it. It was there when no one else could come up with a universally workable video delivery solution, and the geeks crapped on it. It was there with a useable vector graphic solution long before every geek's favorite non-starter, the SVG. Now Adobe has overcome one of the most serious shortcomings of the format and all you guys can do is crap on it some more. They fully intend to meld it with the PDF to give you guys the multimedia rich e-books of the future you've all dreamed about, and I expect you will all still keep crapping on it.

Meanwhile, the best web design technology the purists have managed to offer up since HTML is CSS...an almost unusable and completely unpredictable triumph of geekeneering over the less tech savvy minions (that is, those unwashed masses often sneered at by programmers, but responsible for 90% of what geeks like to call "content")

When Flash sucks, it's not because it doesn't work...it's because some yo-yo doesn't know the first thing about designing a decent GUI, or wants to pelt you with ads, or thinks his obnoxious public-domain techno music sounds awesome at 80 decibels. In this sense, Flash developers are no different from other web developers...they just have more power to do ill.

Since empowering the common man with technology is the crux of the geek manifesto, I would think you would all be raving about Flash. I don't think it's Flash you guys hate at all. I think you either hate Adobe (right there witya) or the idea that someone with a piece of software and an idea can create multimedia just as impressive as some geek with years of experience in the arcane art of programming. In which case...welcome to the future you built.

Re:Predictable responses... (1)

superflippy (442879) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015751)

CSS...an almost unusable and completely unpredictable triumph of geekeneering over the less tech savvy minions

I remember building web pages back in the pre-CSS days, and let me tell you, the advent of CSS made web design about 1000x easier. No more complicated table layouts that make pages take eons to load. No more individual font tags for every single size and color change. Want to change something throughout the entire site? That'll be one massive find and replace, better hope it works. Today, you can accomplish the same thing by changing one line of text in a stylesheet.

You can stick with 1998-style web design if you want to, but I will keep my stylesheets and the creative freedom they give me, thankyouverymuch.

That's sad news (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015871)

Lack of indexing may have been one of the only things holding back the total Flashification of the Web.

great innovation. (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015927)

considering 90% of the flash ive encountered is advertising or malicious, i struggle to see how this will become anything more than an "indexable checkmate." to microsoft.

I misunderstood (1)

scourfish (573542) | more than 5 years ago | (#24015977)

For a minute there, I thought "crawlable" referred the speed with which adobe products run in my browser, because they've already achieved that milestone.

Not All Flash is Bad (0, Troll)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#24016167)

Delivering software simulations for educational purposes is done pretty much 100% in Flash. Used well, Flash is not as bad as your typical slashdotter thinks. I get the complaints against it, but sometimes I feel those non-creative types on here just don't get the usefulness of the tool. What's next? Photoshop is a steamy pile of crap because it isn't open source and has no competition?
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