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Preface > What Does FlashCom Offer?

What Does FlashCom Offer?

FlashCom is a real-time communication server. It provides an extensible and customizable platform for developing real-time, media-rich, web-based communication applications. As described in the Foreword, FlashCom takes care of the plumbing required to create networked applications, allowing you to focus on your unique application rather than write code to support network protocols.

A Flash movie running in Flash Player 6 or later can connect to a FlashCom Server and through it exchange audio, video, and ActionScript data with other Flash movies. Creating communication applications involves scripting using ActionScript on the client side and its close relative, Server-Side ActionScript, on the server side. Macromedia provides ActionScript classes that make managing real-time multiuser communications much simpler than in other platforms. The NetConnection class used to connect a Flash movie to the server, and the NetStream class used to stream audio, video, and data between them are just two examples.

FlashCom Server runs on Windows or Linux, but the Flash client runs on multiple platforms, including Windows and Macintosh. Authoring is often performed in Flash MX 2004 or Flash MX Professional 2004 on Windows or Macintosh. Macromedia also provides higher-level communication components that can be used with a minimum of coding to create a variety of basic applications. Examples include the PeopleList component that shows who is online and the Chat, WhiteBoard, and VideoConference components. It is a remarkable experience to create a communication application by simply dragging some of these components onto Flash's Stage, creating a directory and a little code on the server, and then participate in a video conference complete with text chat, whiteboard, and people list. Applications created this way are not really complete—for example, they are usually single room applications with minimal security—but communication components are powerful tools that make developing even full-fledged applications much easier. Macromedia also provides administrative tools to manage, monitor, and log server activity.

What does FlashCom Server offer that you can't get with the Flash client alone? FlashCom's features include:

  • Streaming video if the user has Flash Player 6 or higher

  • Real-time video, audio, text, and data exchange

  • Uploading of video and audio from the user's Camera and Microphone objects

So how do you know if you need FlashCom?

If you want to stream live video to the Flash Player, you need FlashCom. If you just want to play back a recorded stream, you can do so without FlashCom, but performance might suffer.

For many more details on other advantages of FlashCom, see "Streaming Video with FlashCom" later in this Preface.

Also refer to the comparison that Macromedia provides at:


The Flash Communication Server is also evolving. The first release was quickly followed with the version 1.5 release that runs on Linux or Windows and included new features such as HTTP tunneling and MP3 support. Since then, two updaters have been released that went beyond fixing bugs by extending features or improving performance. The most recent release is FlashCom Version 1.5.2 and is covered in this book. Regardless of future updates to the software, this book provides a rich understanding of FlashCom development. The foundation it provides will help you to design and build whatever types of applications you decide to create.

For a sneak peek at the next version of FlashCom, see:


An extensive review of the proposed feature set for FlashCom 2.0 can be found at:


Robert Reinhardt also wrote a critique of FlashCom 2.0's proposed feature set at:

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