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Wrapping HTML into Flash

Wrapping HTML into Flash

An old story...

Some of you guys have probably read my last tutorial called: Creating Full Flash Websites: Part 1. While I was thinking about the second part of the series, on how to render HTML texts with Text Layout Framework, an old article came back to my mind.

The article had been publisched on the old SPAS 3.0 blog [a full-flash blog]. And what is funny with its introduction is that I clearly remember telling to french flash developers something like: "You idiots! If you do not, American developers will!". (I agree, diplomacy is not one of my skills!)

And as you can imagine, since I've heard about the TLFX project last year, I'm very exited to see their first beta release. And I'm waiting a lot from this project.

So, this this an old story! But I think that it is intersting to tell it again and again, because if you consider Flash and HTML, thing are still the same actually!

Please not that the first comment of the current article is from the old article.

Wrapping HTML documents into Flash applications

Article published on November 11, 2008 - By Pascal ECHEMANN

Few years ago(*), I've proposed to the french Flash community to create a sytem to extend the Flash Player HTML capabilities. The result is that this proposal was considered ridiculous, I fall out with a lot of people, and I even received some insults by e-mail.

Yesterday, while I had posted a message on a forum to introduce this blog, one of the moderators asked me a question about the images positioning in the entries. So I told him that I'm currently using HTML TextField capabilities to display the information texts. But sometimes, It is not easy to do because of the poor HTML implementating of the Flash Player.
I don't know yet if Flash CS4 considerably improves HTML TextFields. If not, SPAS 3.0 will include its own HTML sub-sytem.

Now let me explain the benefits of "wrapping HTML documents into Flash applications".

What is HTML?

Wikipedia gives the following definition for the term "HTML":

It [HTML] provides a means to describe the structure of text-based information in a document.

What is important here are the following words: "text-based information". Because of the introduction of dynamic technologies, many people consider HTML as what it is not: a programmatic language! This is a common confusion made by a lot of Flash developers. It is time to definitly kill this wrong idea.

HTML concentrates on structure rather than appearance to organize information. If you're not convinced, just remind you that HTML has always left the visual details to the end-user software (e.g. browsers of e-mail clients). Does that remind you something?

Lets do some History! At the beginning, HTML pioneers had included few presentation tags, breaking the semantic rules. This choice had been the only one possible option because of the Web technology herself. But once HTML became a public standard adopted by all of the Web browsers designers, it had been possible to go back to the strictly semantic role of the HTML language. That was the creation of the XHTML standard.

And once HTML is demistified?

Well, it is quite simple! Lets use it for what it is: the most used tagged text-based information standard. Nowadays, the deal has changed! The Flash Platform tends to become one of the most important means for presenting information on the Internet.
Flash is no more longer the content to be displayed, but it displays the content!
Thus, we need to ask us what is the better way to present this content.

Five reasons to extends Flash Player HTML capabilities

  • HTML is easy-to-use and its semantic is clearly defined. Its specification are admited unanimously around the world. So it is the better way to present hypertext(**) documents.
  • HTML is the standard document format for the Web. That means two things:
    - first, Flash applications and Web sites should be able to display standard Web contents (HTML),
    - Web developers should easily migrate the content of their HTML pages to the Flash Platform (principle of portability).
  • Integrating HTML components could give a more efficient way to simplify and improve the referencing process of search engines.
  • HTML would allows developers to separate content from Flash presentation with more sharpness.
  • Flash Player can display HTML content with the same look, regardless of the OS or the browser of the final user.

What next?

At the end, if Flash Player 10 don't offers a better HTML rendering, maybe it is not such a bad news! Just imagine if your HTML form or a combobox could have the same look and feel as the rest of your application! It would be great, isn't it?
Well, it is possible to do it by combining the SPAS 3.0 API and the new set of text classes, which appeared with the Flash Player 10.

But that is another story...

  • (*) In early 2005
  • (**) Documents that reference other documents.

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By Vasile Ermicioi2008-11-18 19:52:56
That make sense for flash based websites like your blog. E.g. load html in a hidden div then rendering it in flash - it will look the same in any browser / platform and will be easy indexed by google.

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