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Preface > Director, Breeze, and Other Options

Director, Breeze, and Other Options

In addition to creating Flash movies that connect to a FlashCom Server, you can also connect using Director movies. Working with Director is not covered in this book. However, the same communication classes used in Flash can be accessed from Director, so Director developers will find a lot of useful information here. Additional resources are available at:


After releasing FlashCom, Macromedia purchased a company named Presedia, Inc. Presedia's products included:

  • A PowerPoint-to-Flash converter that has the ability to record audio for each PowerPoint slide in order to make self-running presentations

  • A server product that stores, organizes, and plays presentations created with the converter and that can host standards-compliant tests and quizzes as well as track user progress through them

Macromedia renamed the Presedia product Breeze and used FlashCom to add a new module named Breeze Live. The Breeze Live module is possibly the most complex and feature-rich FlashCom-based product on the market. It provides an extensible online meeting environment that includes the ability to play converted PowerPoint presentations, share each user's video screen, upload and download files, use a whiteboard, conduct instant polls, load web pages into users' browsers and more. The Breeze Live user interface is composed of "pods." For example, the Whiteboard and PeopleList components in Breeze are both pods. Macromedia makes available a software development kit for Breeze pods so developers can extend Breeze Live to include custom features. Information on Breeze is available here:


This book does not cover Breeze development, but Breeze developers will find much of the book lays the foundation they need for developing Breeze pods, because Breeze is built atop the FlashCom Server platform. Pods rely on the communication classes described in Chapter 3 through Chapter 9 and are similar in many respects to the communication components described in Chapter 13 through Chapter 15. More information on developing with Breeze is available here:


Breeze is a large and full-featured application for conducting corporate training, holding meetings, and hosting presentations. Macromedia acts as a Breeze hosting provider and provides pay-per-use and monthly fee plans. The Breeze software can also be licensed from Macromedia. Should you be using Breeze? That depends. It is certainly a well-engineered and capable product, but it is also fairly expensive. If you want to create custom applications or have simpler requirements, FlashCom may be more cost-effective for your needs.

After Breeze Live was announced, some people were concerned that it would replace FlashCom. However, Breeze's reliance on the FlashCom platform has spurred further development of the Flash Communication Server by Macromedia.

Another product built on top of FlashCom is ASAP from Convoq. ASAP supports ad hoc and scheduled meetings. The user interface is similar to instant messaging systems but includes video conferencing and other features. Information on ASAP, including subscription pricing, is available at:


Chris Hock maintains a site that lists many of the other applications built using FlashCom:


I can't offer detailed advice on when to buy and extend an existing communication application and when to develop your own. However, you may want to consider the following things:

  • How closely the application meets your requirements

  • The cost of development and maintenance versus the licensing cost of an existing application

  • Whether an existing application can be customized to meet your needs and the cost of extending it

  • The cost of integrating another application with your existing systems

Flash XML Socket servers provide an interesting alternative to some of the features available with the FlashCom Server. While they do not provide streaming audio or video, they do provide real-time data sharing services. In some cases, socket servers have been used in partnership with FlashCom. The socket server provides a less expensive alternative for real-time messaging while FlashCom manages audio and video streaming. Information on two well-known socket servers is available here:


There are other alternatives to using Flash and FlashCom to develop rich real-time communication applications. However, few have all the following features:

  • The Flash Player is pervasive, meaning that almost all web users can play FlashCom content. Users will resist downloading another plugin and that limits the reach of other competing technologies. Flash Player's ubiquity far outstrips alternatives such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and the Real Player.

  • Extending and customizing Flash clients in the Flash authoring environment makes rapid development of highly customized interfaces relatively simple. In particular, the seamless integration of video with other visible elements in a Flash movie is a compelling advantage. Systems based on Java and other clients are more difficult to develop and much less flexible.

  • FlashCom was designed from the beginning to be a flexible platform capable of delivering a wide range of applications. It did not start life as an instant messaging server or media server with additional features bolted on later. It has an excellent and well-thought-out application programming interface that lowers the cost of application development.

  • Together, Flash and FlashCom can be used to develop an amazing range of compelling applications such as multiuser games with live audio, online help and counseling systems, and video and educational applications where teams can collaborate while working through a simulation. It provides the resources needed to build traditional applications such as instant messaging systems, streaming media systems, video email, and other systems in one package.

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