The Flash Communication Server is one of the easiest server installations you will experience. There are, however, a few considerations before running the installer:
First, be prepared to set up a server administrator password. This login and password will be used to monitor and control the Communication Server from the two management utilities that will be installed.
Next, determine if this install will be a development or production (live) install. In other words, will you be using the same machine that you install the Communication Server on to develop applications in the Macromedia Flash MX authoring environment? If so, install Flash MX before you install the server. The Communication Server will install important extensions to the Flash MX authoring environment. To make it easier for you, it helps to have Flash MX installed first.
If you are planning to install the Communication Server on your local workstation, ensure that the Flash MX authoring environment is installed first and a web server (preferably Windows IIS) is installed and running before you install the Flash Communication Server. Having these two elements installed will let the installer set up the authoring components. This will save a lot of time installing the authoring components manually.
The installer will prompt you to declare how to set up the server. The two options are Development and Production. Let's look at the difference.
The Development option installs the "application" files and the sample applications into the local web server root folder (more on this in a moment). This allows you to conveniently store the Flash (FLA, SWF) files in the same place as the server application files while you are in development. Flash Communication Applications have two principle parts to them. First, there are client (or outside-facing) files such as HTML and SWF (Flash movie) files. Second, each communication application uses special server-side components that, for security reasons, should not be accessible through a public web interface when you deploy. These resources are accessible only by Flash Player 6 through a special protocol (RTMP) and ports. Securing Flash Communication Applications will be discussed in Chapter 15, "Communication Application Architecture Strategies."
The Production option installs the application files outside of any web server root that may exist on the computer. The Flash Communication Server does not use a web server to communicate with the Flash Player 6 clients. As noted in the introduction, it uses the RTMP protocol to transmit ActionScript objects and message broadcasts using Action Message Format (AMF). This is not the same as the HTTP (web) protocol that a web server uses.
Objects that are transmitted by the communication server include server-side ActionScript (SSAS), remote SharedObject (FSO) files, and Flash Video (FLV) files (also known as recorded stream files). It is good security practice to not include these files in any folder publicly accessible by a web server to eliminate any temptation for malicious users to hack your application and expose sensitive or secure information. This does not mean that, if you choose this option, you cannot use the server for development. It only means that your HTML and SWF files should be placed in separate locations and you should access them remotely through a web browser.