What good is an awesome Flash experience if no one can see your Flash movies?
Because most Flash content is viewed with a Web browser, it’s extremely important to make sure that your HTML pages check for the existence of the Flash Player plug-in before you start pushing Flash content to the browser. There are a variety of ways to check for the Flash Player, and this section provides an overview of the available methods.
Plug-in versus ActiveX: Forcing content without a check
The Flash Player is available for Web browsers in two forms: the Flash Player plugin (as a Netscape-compatible plug-in) and the Flash Player ActiveX Control (for use only with Microsoft Internet Explorer on Windows 95/98/NT/2000).
If you directly insert a Flash movie into a Web page with the <EMBED> tag (for Netscape browsers), then one of two scenarios will happen:
If you insert a Flash movie into a HTML document with the <OBJECT> tag (for Internet Explorer on Windows only), then one of two scenarios will happen:
The ActiveX Control will only autodownload and install if the classid and codebase attributes of the Flash movie’s <OBJECT> tag are correctly specified. Depending on the user’s security settings, the user needs to grant permission to a Security Warning dialog in order to commence the download and install process.
The Flash 5 Player ActiveX Control will automatically download if Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows encounters an HTML page with Flash content.
Line 10 initializes a variable plugin to indicate the presence of the Flash 5 Player plug-in on Netscape (or IE 5.0 Mac). Line 11 initializes a variable called activeX to indicate the presence of the Flash 5 Player ActiveX Control. At this point, we create them with a value of 0, meaning that the plug-in and ActiveX Control are not installed.
Creating a test object in VBScript
At this point, if the visitor is using Netscape (on any operating system) or Internet Explorer on the Macintosh, then the variable plugin will have a value of either 0 or 1. However, we still need to check for the ActiveX Control, if the visitor is using Internet Explorer for Windows. Line 11 already initialized a variable called activeX.
Inserting the graphics
If the plugin variable is not equal to false (line 31), then line 32 will execute. Line 32 uses the <EMBED> tag to insert a Flash .SWF file, depicting a green light that animates to a full green color, and the HTML text “Flash 5 Player Plug-in detected.” If the plugin variable is equal to false and the browser is Netscape 2.0 or higher (line 33), then lines 34 and 35 will create <A HREF> and <IMG> tags, depicting a static .GIF image of a red traffic light that links to the Macromedia download area.
Lines 59 to 62 tell IE 4.5 (or earlier) Mac users that we can’t detect their plug-in settings. We can either leave it to them to decide whether they should download the plug-in, or we could direct them to a sniffer movie to determine if the plug-in is installed.
Lines 66 to 74 check whether the plug-in and the ActiveX Control are both absent.
If neither is installed, then we tell them which traffic light (lines 67 to 74) to click. Although you’ll most likely want to spruce up the look and feel of this page to suit your particular site, you can use this scripting layout to inform your visitors about their plug-in or ActiveX Control settings.
Using a Flash Swiffer movie
Making the Swiffer movie
The Swiffer movie is a small Flash movie that has the same background color as the HTML document. We do not need any artwork or symbols in this movie.
Integrating the Swiffer movie into an HTML document
After you have made the swiffer.swf and the swiffer.html files, you can modify the HTML document to guide the browser to a unique URL where plug-in information and download screen will be shown. Remember that the ¬ indicates a continuation of the same line of code. Do not insert this character into your HTML document.
This <META> tag has two attributes, http-equiv and content. The http-equiv attribute instructs the hosting Web server to add the value of http-equiv as a discrete name in the MIME header of the HTML document. The value of the content attribute becomes the value of the MIME entry. Here, the Web browser will interpret the META tag as:Refresh: 5; URL=download.html
in the MIME header. This name/value pair tells the browser to reload the browser window in five seconds, with the file download.html. After testing, you may decide to increase the time the browser waits before reloading a new URL. On slower connections (or during peak Internet hours), you may find that five seconds is not long enough for the Flash movie to initiate its getURL actions.
When you have your HTML documents ready, you can load the swiffer.html document into a browser. If the Flash Player is not installed, then the META tag should transport the browser location to the download.html URL. If the Flash Player is installed, then the Flash ActionScript will direct the browser to the appropriate page.
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Understanding The Flash Framework
Exploring The Interface: Panels, Settings, And More
Using Tools For Navigation And Viewing
Working With Selections And The Pen Tool
Working With The Drawing And Painting Tools
Working With Text
Exploring The Timeline
Checking Out The Library: Symbols And Instances
Drawing In Flash
Animating In Flash
Using Bitmaps And Other Media With Flash
Designing Interfaces And Interface Elements
Understanding Sound For Flash
Importing And Editing Sounds In Flash
Optimizing Flash Sound For Export
Understanding Actions And Event Handlers
Navigating Flash Timelines
Controlling Movie Clips
Sharing And Loading Assets
Planning Code Structures
Creating Subroutines And Manipulating Data
Understanding Movie Clips As Complex Objects
Sending Data In And Out Of Flash
Understanding Html And Text Field Functions In Flash
What Is Generator?
Revving Up Generator
Working With Third-party, Server-side Applications
Working With Raster Graphics
Working With Vector Graphics
Working With Audio Applications
Working With 3d Graphics
Working With Quicktime
Working With Realplayer
Creating Full-motion Video With Flash
Creating Cartoon Animation With Flash
Planning Flash Production With Flowcharting Software
Working With Authoring Applications
Publishing Flash Movies
Integrating Flash Content With Html
Using Players, Projectors, And Screensaver Utilities
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