By Jennifer LeClaire / Data Storage Today. Updated July 01, 2008.
Adobe Systems on Tuesday announced a new initiative with Google and Yahoo to improve search results for dynamic Web content and rich Internet applications (RIAs).
Adobe is providing optimized Adobe Flash Player technology to enhance indexing of the Flash file format and uncover information currently undiscoverable by search engines.
This will provide more relevant automatic search rankings of the millions of RIAs and other dynamic content that run in Adobe Flash Player, according to the companies. That means RIA developers and Web-content producers won't need to amend their content to make it searchable.
"Until now it has been extremely challenging to search the millions of RIAs and dynamic content on the Web, so we are leading the charge in improving search of content that runs in Adobe Flash Player," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the platform business unit at Adobe.
Understanding the Flash Challenge
An openly published specification describes the SWF format used to deliver rich applications and interactive content in Adobe Flash Player, which is installed on more than 98 percent of Internet-connected computers.
Although search engines already index static text and links within these files, RIAs and dynamic Web content have been difficult because of their changing states -- a problem also inherent in other RIA technologies.
Adobe is initially working with Google and Yahoo to improve searches, Wadhwani said, and also intends to broaden its effort to benefit all content publishers, developers and end users.
Google has already begun to roll out Adobe Flash Player technology in its search engine. As a result, millions of existing RIAs and dynamic Web content that utilize Adobe Flash are searchable without changes.
"Google has been working hard to improve how we can read and discover SWF files," said Bill Coughran, senior vice president of engineering at Google. "Through our recent collaboration with Adobe, we now help Web-site owners that choose to design sites with Adobe Flash software by indexing this content better. Improving how we crawl dynamic content will ultimately enhance the search experience for our users."
Yahoo also expects to deliver improved capabilities for SWF applications in an update to Yahoo Search. "Yahoo is committed to supporting Webmaster needs with plans to support searchable SWF and is working with Adobe to determine the best possible implementation," said Sean Suchter, a Yahoo vice president.
Designers and Web developers have long been frustrated that search engines couldn't better access the information created with Flash technology, according to Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineLand.com.
"It's great to see Adobe and the search engines working directly together to improve the situation," Sullivan said. "The changes should help unlock information that's previously been 'invisible' and will likely result in a better experience for searchers."
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, offered a similar take. Adobe's partnerships with Google and Yahoo remove some of the barriers to developing in Flash and accomplish three goals, he said.
"This gives developers a green light to develop in Flash without concern about being indexed," Sterling said. "It gives Google and Yahoo the ability to index that content, which is valuable for them. Of course, Microsoft has Silverlight, which is a competing format to Adobe. Finally, it frees Adobe of the stigma that was associated with Flash development."