In this chapter, we went a lot deeper into the issues around creating a chat room than the exercise from Chapter 3. In that chapter, we built a simple facility to enable the team to communicate with each other.
We started off by dealing with the fact that chat is not instant messaging. It is a communications medium that uses text, not voice. We also highlighted a number of other issues such as accessibility, access, and a few design issues.
The next topic of discussion dealt with the number of participants, and we suggested that a chat containing more than 30 people might better be managed through an email list. The next issue we discussed was how a chat could be moderated, and the key message was "keep the chat on topic." From there, we looked at control mechanisms, from passwords to transcripts. As you saw, the key is planning before Flash is even opened.
The next section dealt with designing the room, and we reviewed the conversation held with the Oakbridge Community Center regarding the technological sophistication of the participants and the demographics. This conversation drove our design efforts, and we showed you how we developed the final "look" using Freehand MX.
The remainder of the chapter dealt with the process of building the chat room in Flash MX 2004. This involves three simple steps:
Write the script that connects the Chat components to the Flash Communication Server MX.
Build the room using the Drag and Drop components.
Test and tweak.
We showed you how to use a number of the Communications Components that come packaged with Flash MX 2004 to build the chat room. The key component is the SimpleConnect component, and we thoroughly reviewed its importance in making the chat function. We then showed how to deal with a potential user issue by changing the font and point size of the text in the chat component.
We finished the chapter by showing you how to add the chat room to a Dreamweaver MX 2004 page.
Next up, we take what we have learned, push our skills to the next level, and build an application that permits two-way audio and video communication.