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Usage instructions and code samples.
What is this?
Remoting is a way for Flash movies running in a web browser to
request structured data from the web server. The following data types
are supported - strings, numbers, dates, arrays, dictionaries/hashes,
objects, recordsets. Flash clients talk with the server using the AMF
protocol, which is proprietary to Macromedia. However, it's not that
hard to decode.
Using FLAP, it is possible to send arbitrary
data between client and server using very few lines of code. There is no
need to pack complicated data structures into CGI form parameteres or
XML strings. The coding time can be spent on better things - data
preparation and graphical presentation, not data delivery.
HTML forms are ugly. HTML itself is not well suited for presenting
data. Everybody knows that but still uses them. However, the Rich
Internet Client is back and it gets adopted more and more. In
part this has to do with Macromedia's eforts.
Macromedia Flash has matured enough to
a) allow developers to build rich, visually attractive user interfaces
b) receive data from the server in a convenient way.
But if you believe in the idea of more and more programmers
taking a shot at developing clients in Flash, you must also see the need
for a good data gateway between web clients (the Flash movie) and web
servers. Macromedia offers just that in Macromedia Flash Remoting,
available for ColdFusion, JRun, .NET, J2EE.
The Macromedia development tools are neither free nor
open-source. The server costs go into thousands. (There are
fully-fuctional trial versions available, though.)
However, by using Perl to implement the server-side part of the
gateway, that part of the solution becomes free.
Remoting protocol (AMF) is similar to SOAP, but the protocol
complexities are hidden from the developer. On the client side you call
a local function, and your call is passed to the corresponding function
on the server. Another function, a callback, is invoked by the framework
when the data is received. On the server side you provide a handler
with a certain name that registers certain functions, available to be
used by the client. Everything on the server side is within the syntax
of the server language. The client side uses ActionScript. This is what the code looks like.
To build/export .swf files with Flash Remoting, you need to install
Flash Remoting MX Components for free at:
This will install the scripts "NetServices.as" and "NetDebug.as" that are
used in the ActionScript.
We think that it is very important for the Open Source
community to make this technology available in Perl and (why not?) in
Python as well. We set out to decode the protocol, but soon discovered
that PHP folks beat us by a
month, so we simply rewrote their code in Perl.
We would like to hear the community feedback - the amount of time we
will put into this project will be proportional to the need for it.
Please respond if you are interested either in using FLAP or in
contributing to it.
FLAP is used for Geneboy, a genetics educational tool written in Flash.
The initial code is based on the AMF-PHP project.
Created on Feb 24, 2003.
Update history (last updated August 3, 2003)
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