Chapter 17. Flash MX 2004 and Real-Time, Two-Way Communication

True story. One of the authors and Kevin Towes, author of the definitive guide to the Flash Communication Server MX?Macromedia Flash Communication Server MX by Macromedia Press?are at FlashForward in New York City. They have a bit of free time on their hands, and Kevin suggests a visit to the Empire State Building.

Along the way, Kevin decides the time is ripe for him to finally purchase a digital camera. He drags the author into a store just up Fifth Avenue from the Empire State Building and proceeds to spend the next half hour carefully scrutinizing a couple cameras. The one feature he finds intriguing is the capability to record video that is built into the cameras he is considering purchasing. He makes his purchase, and the author and Kevin continue their journey along Fifth Avenue to the Empire State Building, visit the observation deck, and give their digital cameras their usual workout.

Later that afternoon, the author, Kevin, and a couple conference attendees are sitting in the coffee shop located in the lobby of the hotel hosting the conference. Kevin has his portable computer open and is downloading the images in his camera to his computer. Then Kevin asks the inevitable question, "I wonder if I can get a FlashComm video feed from my camera?" Within five minutes, he has the camera connected to the computer and is streaming a video feed of people passing through the lobby to a Flash MX 2004 application on his desktop. The video is, of course, coming from his digital camera.

The point of this story is that you can't get much more dynamic than a live video feed. It is both immediate and compelling. The other point is that you don't necessarily need to own a web cam or expensive video camera to add a live video capability to your dynamic site. As long as the Flash Communication Server MX recognizes the camera, any digital camera, even a relatively inexpensive one purchased on Fifth Avenue, will do the job.

In the previous chapter, "Building the Chat Room," we showed you how to create a text chat room using a few simple components in Flash MX 2004. In this one, we go to the next level and take interactivity from a text-based medium into the realm of streaming audio and video.