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Flash Communication Server MX is a powerful streaming solution for live and pre-recorded video and audio. However, its real power is in data management and messaging.
It's Not Just a Lean, Mean Streaming Machine
The first thing people consider when they hear "Flash Communication Server MX" is its ability to stream video and MP3 audio. It's true; Flash Communication Server MX makes the Flash Player the most widely distributed streaming-media player on the planet. It beats out Real Media, Apple QuickTime, and Windows Media Player. With the upgraded video codecs inside Flash Player 7, the story will get even better.
Flash MX 2004 and Flash Player 7 introduced the ability to play Flash Video ( FLV ) dynamically through a progressive download. This method uses the HTTP protocol, and while it is effective, there are advantages to the management and control of video streaming over a persistent connection. Streaming supports bandwidth negotiation, a variable bit rate, messaging, recording, and the best feature of all ”using the Flash Player as a video transmitter. These features are available only with Flash Communication Server MX.
Note that video streaming is not what this chapter is about; if you are looking for a good primer, check out the definitive book on the topic: Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX . It was written by Kevin Towes and published by Macromedia Press.
It's About Sharing (and a Little Streaming)
Flash Communication Server MX has a powerful communication programming architecture called SharedObject. Local SharedObjects ( LSO ) can store persistent information on a client's hard disk. The Remote SharedObject ( RSO ) can store information on the server's hard disk and allow other connected users to access and change it. Data is always synchronized, and it can be as open or locked down as you need it to be. The best feature of the SharedObject is that, like Flash Remoting, you don't need to worry about transforming your ActionScript data and messaging objects to transport between the Flash Player 7 and the Flash Communication Server MX. All ActionScript remains in its native format!
Messaging is another key element to sharing data and creating collaborative experiences. A Flash Player connected to a SharedObject can broadcast messages to the server or other Flash Players. Messaging also provides the opportunity to call ActionScript functions remotely. For example: A Flash application can invoke functions that are defined on a remote server, similar to Flash Remoting . What is different is that the same Flash application can call functions defined in other remotely connected Flash applications. If that weren't enough, Flash Communication Server MX can also remotely call functions on any Flash Player or server connected to it.
Streaming will be touched on in this discussion, but not in a way you might imagine. In the spirit of this book, you will be introduced to recording a data stream using a technique of streaming and messaging. It's a great tool for creating log files or recording closed captioning, presentations, or anything else to add that live element.
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