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Part I: FlashCom Foundation > Introducing the Flash Communication Server

Chapter 1. Introducing the Flash Communication Server

Macromedia Flash has evolved from a way to easily create and distribute lightweight animated graphics on the Web to a rich application platform. Macromedia reported that Flash Player 6 was available on more than 94% of Internet-accessible workstations in Canada, the United States, and Europe as of June 2004. Availability in Asia exceeded 92%. Flash Player 7 penetration ranged from 67% in the U.S. to 81% in Europe. (For the latest statistics, see http://www.macromedia.com/software/player_census/flashplayer/version_penetration.html.) Flash Player 6 and 7 provide some remarkable capabilities to the hundreds of millions of machines on which they are already installed. With the user's consent, a Flash movie can capture real-time audio and video from the machine's microphone or web cam and stream it to Flash Communication Server MX. (Here we use the term movie to refer to .swf files. We use the term video for visual content streamed from the server.) The server can redistribute the streams to other users who have the Flash Player. The resulting real-time communications make it possible to develop a remarkable range of compelling applications. The Flash authoring tool and the Flash Communication Server MX can be used to create:

  • Highly customized video conferences, team meetings, and web chats with shareable components such as versioned text areas, whiteboards, and instant polls

  • Video- and data-on-demand applications with rich user interfaces that can include closed captions and skinnable controls

  • Live event broadcasting with customizable user interaction such as moderated chat and question/answer components

  • Multiplayer games, simulations, and other applications with the added value of audio and video if required


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