Thursday, February 28, 2008

Flash as an API: the little runtime that could

A few days ago playing with Yahoo live I was wondering about the possibility of using an API to integrate it with other applications.

The APIs they provide are a combination of three things:
1. Two flash players, a regular and a skinless one.
2. A set of Javascript APIs mostly to modify the Flash player's behavior.
3. REST Web Services to query broadcasts, channels and their viewers.

The Flash players being called as APIs was kind of a revelation for me. I never thought of Flash as an API, although it makes total sense. It seems like the increasing relevance of video and audio on the internet as these reach a broader application base, are bringing Flash into a whole new status.

What other cases are becoming standard Flash applications on the web?
. Promotions such as sweepstakes
. Quick forms
. Demos, tutorials
. Product presentations, navigation, 3D views.
. Complex interface GUIs.
Together with web services you can build pretty powerful applications.

According to Adobe the penetration of the Flash Player is 98.8% above any other competitor. [Thanks to Mauro]
Silverlight doesn't seem to be putting up a real fight, although it'd only take including it with the distribution of IE or Updates and that'd do it ...

I believe one of the most overlooked revolutions to come in the short future is the un-sequentiality of video as it becomes augmented (GPS, timed) and searchable (image, sound searches) and I think Flash will have an interesting role on that.

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