Dec '08

Let’s chat: Flash to Flash, AIR to AIR

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!



3 Responses to “Let’s chat: Flash to Flash, AIR to AIR”

  1. Nigel Pegg Says:

    To be clear, while I think (?) text chat is possible with Stratus (using NetStream.send), it’s not really designed for this – it’s really about audio/video peer connections.

  2. Jim Duber Says:

    As I understand it, a server is needed to make the handshake (connection) between connecting clients and the server.

    “In order to use RTMFP, Flash Player endpoints must connect to an RTMFP-capable server, such as the Adobe Stratus service…”

    Further, that connection to the (e.g., Stratus) server must be maintained for the entire session or the P2P (or client-to-client) connection will be lost.

    Are you indicating otherwise?


  3. Greg Says:

    Nigel: Yes, thanks – I didn’t mean to indicate that it was just chat, but was drawing upon the illustration of even something as simple as chat being difficult in the past. I’ve updated the post to hopefully reflect that better.

    Jim: No, you are correct, that a connection to the service is needed. I’m simply saying that the need for us, as developers, to have our own server is not necessary.

Leave a Reply