One of the coolest demos I ever saw was an app that Brandon Hall created prior to the release of Flash 5, in which he had built a Flash-based chat client. It was really quite simple – one Flash movie with an input field and a dynamic text field, talking (sending messages) to the same Flash movie in another browser (or on another computer). When I asked him how he did it, he said, “well, I’m using an XML server”. When I said that I’d never heard of an XML server (and remember this was many, many years ago), Brandon calmly added, “well, I couldn’t find one either – so I wrote one over the weekend”.
Now most of us aren’t capable of, and probably don’t have the desire to write our own XML server. That’s why Adobe introduced the Flash Media Server to manage communications between clients. But even that has its drawbacks, as we need to purchase the server – and many of us don’t have this option as our sites are hosted by an ISP. Of course, we could sign-up for an account with a FMS hosting partner, but that can sometimes be overkill – because what we’re looking for is a simple peer-to-peer solution. And of course these days, it’s not just about chat, it’s about video chat.
Well, look no further than Adobe Labs, where we have just posted the first preview of a new technology service, code-named Stratus, that will allow exactly that – simple peer-to-peer communication (text/audio/video and more) between Flash clients, whether those are running in the browser or as an AIR application – without the need for a complicated server set-up, because we’ve done all the work for you. Very cool!