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The Internet Graphics Software

Adobe Makes Flash Crawlable 232

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-about-cut-and-paste dept.
nickull wrote in his journal that "Today Adobe systems made an announcement that it has provided technology and information to Google and Yahoo! to help the two search engine rivals index Shockwave Flash (SWF) file formats. According to the company, this will provide more relevant search rankings of the millions pieces of Flash content. Until now, developers had to implement workarounds for exposing text content used in Flash to search-engine spiders and other bots such as using XHTML data providers. While the Flash content is exposed, it is not yet clear how it will be utilized by the search engines, as they have not revealed their algorithms. The SWF specification is openly published."
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Adobe Makes Flash Crawlable

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:53AM (#24014351)

    Instead of (or in addition to) giving search engines information on Flash, Adobe should tell Flash users when not to use it. Avoid putting large texts in a Flash application and not offering the same in HTML. This is pretty obvious to everyone with half a brain, but "web developers" often seem to "forget".

  • Oh great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zerth (26112) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @07:54AM (#24014361)

    Now we'll get black hat SEOs keyword stuffing flash files and adding flash widgets all over the place. /me never enabled flashblock before, but he might soon.

  • by RangerRick98 (817838) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:00AM (#24014423) Journal

    Agreed. I don't see why Flash content needs to be indexed by search engines, because no content worth indexing should be exclusively in Flash.

    The only good things Flash has done are games and embedded video. Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible.

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:00AM (#24014425) Homepage

    Now all they have to do is make it so, when you make a web site in Flash, you can link directly to the "page" you want. And make the Flash plugin fast. And make it not crash so often. Oh and then, finally, come up with a real reason as to why we should use Flash instead of something else.

    Once they do that, it'll be a great little format.

  • by Micah (278) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:02AM (#24014449) Homepage Journal

    The fact that search engines couldn't index Flash was a strong argument against its use for textual content. With that excuse gone, more webmasters might consider using it.

    Only problem is, Flash for textual content is HORRIBLE. Totally ruins the consistent experience I want with my web browser. Flash text does not behave like HTML text in several ways.

    I really hope this doesn't encourage more Flash content from point-n-drool webmasters ...

  • by Uzuri (906298) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:25AM (#24014691)

    If they make it "crawlable", though, wouldn't that mean that the text is available to be read somewhere? And that means it's only a matter of time before someone designs a Flash translator that pulls the content (and say, LINKS?! #$%&@ flash developers) and turns it into straight XHTML.

    I'd pay for that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:41AM (#24014907)

    Right...and I think that's the point that's being missed. Currently, Flash is just as you've said, an obscure corner of the web for those high-interactive, non-critical bits.

    This move indicates that Adobe would greatly prefer to have Flash's reputation expand beyond "nothing critical" as we move into a future of richer online apps. The main things holding Flash back are 1) it's a separate plugin and 2) it's not indexable. (One could argue that security would've been a major issue, but Flash CS3 has cleaned that area up significantly, before it became a major deal-breaker). Now, problem 1 is practically solved once a user encounters Flash content, since there's plenty of clean, effective ways to point users to the Flash player if it's missing, and more and more users find themselves getting it these days (thanks, youtube). Problem 2, though, has persisted--you don't want to bother making a web page that nobody can find. If Adobe can solve this, their platform can move into being a major content delivery problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:42AM (#24014909)

    Webmasters? The desire to barf Flash all over a page comes from "online marketing managers" (which I am), executives, people near the top of the pyramid and, by and large, people who just don't get it. These individuals will preface every decision with "when I browse I do", or "people don't want to do X, they want to do Y", often without a shred of evidence and, even more infuriatingly, in direct contradiction of someone who took the time to analyze the data in the first place.

    Flash has its place, but it's a very narrow place and this announcement has removed one of my biggest trump cards (re: "no you can't have your retarded dancing monkey on the homepage, it wont bring in visitors and thus we'll lose revenue")

  • by slashmojo (818930) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @08:55AM (#24015103)

    So only Google & Yahoo were "provided technology and information" - Microsoft must be feeling left out.. lucky for adobe they dont live in sweden [forumeter.com] I suppose.

    I wonder why adobe didn't invite msft/live.com to the party? Sour grapes over silverlight [mashable.com] perhaps?

  • by Peeteriz (821290) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:01AM (#24015183)

    You don't index the web as it should be, you index the web as it is.
    "Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible." - probably yes, but there are such websites in noticeable amounts, so indexing them properly is a good thing. And maybe that will make them more accessible - via a deep link to the content you want, bypassing their flash menus.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:21AM (#24015491)

    Here is an example: A business association's website was redesigned in Flash. Instead of their staff page having a simple list of photos, names, job titles and phone numbers that you could search by hitting CTRL-F, the flash version just shows a photo of all of the staff members and you can only find the job titles and contact info by holding the mouse over the appropriate person's photo. So, if you want to find the contact info for the newsletter producer and you don't already know what he/she looks like, you have to move your mouse over each of 15 different photos until you find the right one. Stupid. There is just too much dumb stuff going on with Flash.

    What does that have to do with Flash?

    I hate to break this to you, but I could implement the same thing in Javascript really easily. Or even a Windows app, if I wanted.

    You're blaming the tool for something that is the fault of the developer who sold this crappy site. (Well, and your associate who apparently contracted the developer without checking out the quality of his work before.)

  • That's sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:48AM (#24015871) Homepage

    Lack of indexing may have been one of the only things holding back the total Flashification of the Web.

  • Re:hmmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jacquesm (154384) <jNO@SPAMww.com> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:54AM (#24015933) Homepage

    the sooner we get rid of flash the better, competition or not.

    I hate these 'industry standards' that get used by everybody and their brother in applications where there are much better and open solutions.

    To hell with flash, and no kudos for google/yahoo for helping this shite stay around longer.

  • Re:Silverlight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Crooked Elf (1042996) <peppe@NoSpAM.cs.usm.maine.edu> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @09:59AM (#24016003) Homepage
    Frankly, though, I'm hoping that, rather than little feature additions like this, they do one of the following: * Make it NOT an absolutely ridiculous memory hog. * Invest some time in making it work with Firefox better (i.e., without the crashes). * Make it work under 64-bit because, frankly, it's really, really stupid that it doesn't. They've had half a decade now; I don't care how poorly written their code-base is.
  • by cheater512 (783349) <nick@nickstallman.net> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:06AM (#24016117) Homepage

    Web developers dont use flash, thats what Web designers do.

    Their heads are up in the clouds and the web developers are left to clean up the mess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:09AM (#24016175)

    That's not a problem with Flash... that was a dumb move on the company to let someone hide their employees contact info that way.... if I had done it, I would have tied it to a database/CMS and provided an autosuggest search box at the bottom, then highlighted the photo/person when an individual was selected from the search and showed their contact info in a selectable text box below.... with a button to download their vCard.

    The only problem with Flash is that the lowest common denominator is much less accessible both to humans and computers than an html page... even the worst html page is searchable by the browser.

    I agree with everything you said, except the "That's not a problem with Flash" part. My whole point is that a very basic HTML page designed by a novice will have decent functionality by default (you can search within the page with CTRL-F, data isn't hidden, bookmarking works, etc.). Flash doesn't supply such basic functionality by default, so you only get a page with good usability if you put a lot of work into it. Many designers of Flash-only pages don't put that amount of work into it, so the result is web pages with poor functionality. It may be possible to create decent web pages in Flash, but it doesn't seem to happen very often. Since pointy-haired bosses are too often satisfied with "ooh, shiny" a lot of websites go down the Flash path based on the website being cute rather than it being functional. Being able to say "but Google will ignore our website" was a powerful way send the pointy-haired bosses in a better direction when they wouldn't be willing to spend the effort to do Flash right (i.e. just make it look good and then stop before worrying about functionality).

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:11AM (#24016195)

    Flash text does not behave like HTML text in several ways.

    And furthermore, the rules of cricket differ and several ways from the rules of baseball!

    The World Wide Web is a medium for many content types, of which text/html is only one. Complaining that Flash doesn't work the same as HTML is like complaining that pears don't taste like apples. They're not SUPPOSED to be the same.

  • Re:Silverlight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bberens (965711) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @10:45AM (#24016675)
    PDFs are an open format, and as of version 1.0 Google Desktop indexes PDFs. I think all the trouble you have with them is by design.. Businesses love PDFs because they're harder to manipulate.
  • Re:hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no1home (1271260) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:44PM (#24018729)

    Actually, if web programmers would adopt and adhere to some 'best practices', flash, applets, and the like would be less of a problem. What they should include on each of their web pages is a way to toggle each movie and each sound, with the default being to not play until told to do so. I shouldn't need No Script to stop the wailing of a page.

    And along the lines of what Google-Yahoo-Adobe are trying to achieve here, they should make it so we can right click on any of the links and get my usual menu options: open link in new window; in new tab; in IE tab (for those who use this); copy link location; bookmark; etc. Then it would be much more integrated into the web experience and we'd all be (at least a little) more comfortable with it.

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabred. d y n d n s . o rg> on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @03:11PM (#24021311) Homepage

    ...turn it into a television set? Man, you're right! All I need is a 16MHz text-processing machine, I don't need that fancy "multi-media" bullshit!

    Flash has it's uses. There's communication viable via computers and video that isn't with a television... that's valuable. Look at some of the more serious Youtube videos, that provide information and such. It's not all just videos of people getting kicked in the crotch and Rick Astley. If textual, search-style data is hidden in Flash, I agree that it's a bad thing. But your argument is more like "All we ever needed for information transfer was horses... why would anyone need one of them noisy automobiles?"

  • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @04:54PM (#24022693) Homepage

    Flash for entire websites is horrible and inaccessible.

    My philosophy is flash should be a page element, in other words used as rich media content--not as a page rendering engine, because that's what the browser is for (as well as xhtml/css/xml/xslt/javascript).

    I agree with your sentiment but I'll word it in a different way. If one is using flash to structure the document, one is doing it wrong. If one is using flash to deliver elements to implement animation effects, streaming video, logic, or server connectivity that's not feasible (or efficient) with xhtml/css/xml/xslt/javascript, then it's a valid use.

    There is one exception to the flash as a full page model. If the site contains a "desktop" application (for example a game, a document editor, a help desk program, or possibly a graphical travel planner, etc), then it's OK, but that application should be placed within a secondary page, clearly separate from general site content. It should not be forced upon the user to view all the remaining documents under the website. The same rules of thumb for when to use Java applets ought to apply for Flash web applications.

    When you say inaccessible, I interpret that to mean it's difficult to access the data within flash, as opposed to interface accessibility. I think that's true. You can't "Save As" the document if you pull up a report or tabular data, but you could if the site rendered that data as xhtml. In theory, the flash developer could implement a Print or view as a link feature, but that's no guarantee they will. Whereas Save As works on all xhtml pages regardless of whether the programmer paid attention to it or not. Being forced to screenshot the data, is a crappy inflexible alternative.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas