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Embedding Flash in desktop apps.  A good idea?

I recently read a tutorial on how to embed Flash and communicate with the Actionscript at Macromedia. 

Personally I think that it's pretty cool what you can do.  You have all the power of the Flash environment (great looking graphics) plus you can extend it to work with the desktop.

Here is the article:

http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/mx/flashslideshow/

There is also another one that I did not get to yet.

http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/mx/flash/articles/stock_history.html

Anyone know of any products that use this technique or have any success stories about how this worked out for you? (or didn't)

Wayne
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Gush is a new "IM+RSS+blog convergence desktop" product. It uses Flash for the entire GUI and it looks VERY sweet! Most of the app was coded in Python, so I'm not sure how they integrated Flash. For anyone who thought Flash GUI's were not possible or a good idea should check out Gush.

http://www.2entwine.com/

runtime
Thursday, February 05, 2004

Here's a screenshot:

http://www.2entwine.com/screenshots/pic1.html

runtime
Thursday, February 05, 2004

I am not an Flash expert, but if you can use Flash widgets that resembles Mozilla's Gecko controls or MSIE view window controls you are home free.

The reason you'll want this is that basically you just you can create custom toolbars and scrollbars (probably comes with Flash anyway) that deals with the bigger window, but let DHTML take care of the rest.

If however you are force to basically reinvent the browser control yourself then you are fcuked basically--the time it takes for you to code it would neutralize any benefit of having a pretty darn neat cross platform compatible GUI platform like Flash. If you have a web browser window widget (especially one that has the client-side javascript down cold and gets the SSL down cold) you are immediately open to creating business solutions.

Li-fan Chen
Friday, February 06, 2004

Li-fan,

I think you're missing the point of the question. This is about Flash breaking out of it's web-based shell and being integrated into desktop applications.

I would say that Flash has a lot to offer on the desktop and that Gush is a testament to what's possible usability and functionality wise. Flash's presentation abilities also make it a great compliment to native desktop components. Macromedia even provides a large set of standard components to lighten your development time and a plethora of online resources.

If you thought flash was just for pretty animations and cool websites I urge you to take another look.

Wes Carr
Friday, February 06, 2004

Whilst great things might well be achieved I suspect the end result will be a database that does the badger dance at you whilst running your query. 

a cynic writes...
Friday, February 06, 2004

The application I work on does this. It’s runs on a kiosk so it doesn’t use the normal Windows UI. The only technical problem we’ve had is making sure the right version of flash is on the client.

Tobias
Friday, February 06, 2004

I downloaded and ran Gush and I was impressed and dissapointed all at the same time.

It has a great looking interface, but it is klunky when dragging stuff around and it took up 53MB of RAM.

If I do anything with this, I don't think I'll build the *complete* interface with Flash.  I might just use it for a cool splash screen / about screen at first and depending on how that goes, try out some other things.

I'm thinking, anything that's hard to do (graphics-wise) in your standard programming language is going to be easier to do in Flash (tweens, dragging movies, etc.)

Wayne
Friday, February 06, 2004

Tobias,

Take a look at http://northcode.com/
Their solution allows you to ensure the version of Flash on the machine every time the app runs.

Wayne,
We wish we could do somthing about the memory usage in Gush. It does take up a lot of memory, but 60 MB is pretty much a drop in the bucket for most machines that have 512MB or more.  So, with machines getting faster with more memory and continual improvements by Macromedia, the whole issue will become moot.

In the mean time, we will keep on trying to improve memory usage and performance in Gush.

Dudley Carr
Friday, February 06, 2004

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