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Chapter 4. Flash and Generator > Online versus Offline

Online versus Offline

You’ll hear a lot about online versus offline generation of Generator templates. So what’s the difference? When you are using Generator templates online, the server is creating a new file every time someone browses to the HTML page in which the template is embedded. If you have Generator 2 Enterprise Edition, you can set up caching features to save wear and tear on your server. However, if you are using Generator Developer Edition, a new file is created for every request of the template. The important distinction here is that the file did not exist prior to the request for it.

Online generation is a Web server extension. It enables dynamic combinations of text, graphics, and sound into rich media. When a browser requests a Generator template from the Web server, the Web server passes the request to Generator by way of an instance of a Java servlet. Data is acquired from the data sources. The template and data are passed to the C++ code, which merges them and builds the image.

If your data does not need to be updated in real time, you can run your templates offline to create Flash Player movies, GIFs, JPEGs, and so on and manually replace the files on the server only when there are changes to the data.

Offline generation can be done in two different ways. Flash 5 includes a version of the Generator server. Every time you publish a Generator template from the Flash authoring environment, you are invoking an offline generation.

Offline generation also can be done at the command-line level if you have the Generator server extensions installed. Instead of sending a file back to a browser, offline generation creates a physical file in the format requested and saves it to a hard drive.

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