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Can flash (.swf) be streamed ?

Posted on 2010-08-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello Experts,
I have a site , where i am planning to host some flash files.  But when a client plays its, the client browser waits for the full swf file to be downloaded before starting to play. This is causing unnecessary delays.  IS there any way we can stream it, so that the client can start playing as soon as possible without waiting for the complete download.

Thanks.
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Question by:shajithchandran
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by:quizengine
ID: 33462831
Does the swf contain an imported video or audio file that plays on the timeline ? I'm guessing it does.

If it's a video file, you can't stream a video file that's embedded in a swf. In order to be able to stream the video you must have the video file *external* to the swf, and use a video player inside your swf that will play the file for you.

If it's an audio file on the timeline you *can* stream it. Click the frame in the timeline where the audio starts playing and look at the properties panel - make sure that 'synch' option is set to 'stream'.

In case you need to ask more on this, please say what version of actionscript (if any) you use in the swf.
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by:shajithchandran
ID: 33462883
I have not embedded any video files. Its a presentation kind of material, in which audio is snyc'ed.
I didnt use adobe tools to create the swf file. I used a tool  called as flash demo builder. Its very easy and similar to power point.  I dont know much about flash, so went with the easiest tool available.

I am not using any action script.  Can that be streamed ? Does it depend on the tool using which we create the swf file.. shouldnt this be a feature of the swf file format ? Please advice. Thanks
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by:quizengine
ID: 33463124
It might depend on the tool - are you able to upload the swf ? I may be able to unpack it in Flash and see how it ticks and whether anything can be done.
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by:shajithchandran
ID: 33467991
I will try to upload a sample swf. Meanwhile, i was reading through the help pages of the tool, and it said this

You can publish your project (movie) as

· Flash and HTML File
Streaming Flash SWF and HTML file.

It supported various other format  too. I have written a mail to the help desk asking how can this swf file be streamed.

Till they get back,
Does this mean that, swf file is stream-able ? Is it some new version of swf format which can be streamed ? If yes, should we do something in the hosting page to deliver it to the client in a stream format ?

I am very new to web development, so i am not sure if i am asking the right thing.

Thanks
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Assisted Solution

by:quizengine
quizengine earned 400 total points
ID: 33468545
All 'streaming' means is that content will begin to play before it is all downloaded.

Flash movies are *natively* streaming - that's what Flash does... But there are ways to deliberately prevent Flash from doing this. Why would you want to do that ? If a movie is large in filesize it might be a better viewing experience for a user to have to wait to see a 'movie' start, but then get an uninterrupted view of the movie once it starts playing. By doing this 'preloading' the author of the movie took the decision to delay the start of the movie just for that reason.

Flash (the Adobe Flash IDE - the software that most people use to create Flash movies) will let you do this preloading, but it is not a standard feature - you need to write code to do it. So a standard movie written in Flash *will* stream and *not* preload.

But the software tool you are using may have other ways of working. They may have a 'preload' feature active by default.

If you can upload your movie I will try to analyse it for you.
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by:CyanBlue
CyanBlue earned 100 total points
ID: 33471510
I think we are using this term, streaming, very loosely and probably incorrectly here...  

Flash is not natively streaming...  It rather is downloading/playing progressively...  The main difference between the streaming and the progressive download is that you can go to any point in time and play it with the streaming media in the case of the video whereas you have to wait until that the player buffers till that time...  To stream a media, you do need a streaming server such as Flash Media Server or fake it with the PHP or any other server side that serves requested portion of data...

My 2 cents...

CyanBlue
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by:shajithchandran
ID: 33471693
What i mean by streaming is that it should start playing as soon as possible, without waiting for the whole file. I dont mind if the user can't scroll through time bar. All i want is to avoid the initial wait and make is as less as possible.
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Assisted Solution

by:CyanBlue
CyanBlue earned 100 total points
ID: 33471759
Combining what quizengine said and what I said, Flash should play the SWF as soon as it is downloaded into the memory and wait when it buffers unless you have some sort of stop(); command that stops it...  But you would not really know or do anything about it because it's the builder thing that takes care of it...

CyanBlue
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by:quizengine
ID: 33475116
CyanBlue - thanks for the correction. I was playing fast and loose with the definition of streaming. You are correct that it uses progressive download and not true streaming.

shajithchandran - Because I don't know how the software tool you use prepares / packages the swf, I can't really suggest anything else than try and post the swf. If there is a reason why you don't want to post the swf here then let me know and I'll see if there's another way we can do it.
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by:shajithchandran
ID: 33476747
I created a dummy swf file. I am uploading it here. I hope this will be good enough for you to debug.

Thanks a lot for your effort.

The support people have come back with some options, i am trying it, but doesnt seem to resolve the issue. Will try again.

By the way, this is the tool that i am using.
http://www.flashdemobuilder.com/download/FlashDemoBuilder300.exe
testing.swf
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Accepted Solution

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quizengine earned 400 total points
ID: 33478362
Thanks for the opportunity to examine the swf. I decompiled it into Flash and it didn't work. It's may be that the builders of the tool you use have protected the content that it creates so it cannot be 'fiddled with' by other software. Or it may just work too differently than Flash itself for Flash to understand it.

I think if you want to continue to use Flashdemobuilder, your only solution is likely to be help from their tech team.

Good luck.
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by:shajithchandran
ID: 33482297
Thanks for you help.

i am bit confused here ... if the file format is different, how is the flash player able to play it ? Is this a common practice to prevent flash file decoding ? Or is there some layer between the flash file and the flash player which does the translations?

Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:quizengine
ID: 33483034
The destination file - the swf - is created to work in the Flash player, but the source file - the bit that you can edit to change the content - is radically different.
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Expert Comment

by:CyanBlue
ID: 33483891
Yup...  There are many ways to create the SWF file since its file format is open but the source is just too different and probably closed in this case...  

CyanBlue
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