Adobe Teams With Google, Yahoo to Make Flash Searchable

As Web content has grown increasingly dynamic, some of it has also become harder to find through conventional search engines. Adobe Systems is hoping to rectify that situation somewhat with new technology it is providing to search giants like Google and Yahoo.

The software manufacturer announced yesterday that it would begin providing optimized Flash technology to leading search engines that will make rich Internet applications (RIA) and dynamic content created using Flash more easily identifiable.

“Up ’til now, Flash content just hasn’t been as thoroughly searchable as we’d like,” said Justin Everett-Church, senior product manager for Adobe Flash Player. “The text was just being pulled out in strange ways and left it looking really incomplete, as though you were reading the index of a book rather than the book itself.”

The optimized Flash technology will now allow search engines to identify text within Flash programs that would otherwise have escaped them without requiring any change in behavior on the developers’ part. The result should be millions of newly searchable RIAs and dynamic experiences, including brand experiences on the Web.

Adobe is also hoping this will convince developers to use Flash in places where they otherwise would not have, as the search problems had long been a sticking point with the program.

Using Flash “has always been a bit of a tradeoff,” said Everett-Church. “You get all the great graphics and experiences but you lose some search capability. Hopefully this will remove some of those barriers to entry.”

At least one prominent digital agency executive applauded the move, but warned developers against using this as an excuse to go overboard with Flash.

“I think this makes Flash more attractive to use, but you also have to be careful not to fall back into the old times when Flash first came on the market and people went crazy with it,” said Andreas Roell, CEO of Geary Interactive.

While a certain amount of Flash can enhance a users’ experience, too much can make a site unwieldy, ultimately turning away the consumers you are looking to engage, he said.

“Flash should add to the experience, but never be 100 percent of it,” he said. “We’re defeating the purpose of what Flash is meant to be if we get too extreme. The old principles still apply.”

That said, he applauded Adobe for addressing the biggest drawback to the popular program.

“I’m really actually very pleased that Adobe is tackling this,” he said. “Obviously there is a big drive for getting additional market share with developers, but overall I think this checks off one major problem that allows us to focus more on [serving clients].”

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