Barefoot Development

Flash ExpressInstall Challenge

We have standardized on using the SWFObject method of embedding Flash applications onto web pages. It has a whole host of advantages -- most recently it has proven to overcome the new IE "Activate an ActiveX Control" issue, where users must click to activate any ActiveX control that is embedded with an applet, embed, or object tag.

SWFObject also interfaces with Adobe's ExpressInstall feature very nicely. You can embed ExpressInstall code into a Flash app and if the user doesn't have the required version of Flash (but they have at least Flash v6.0.65), the user can automatically update the Flash plugin.

I ran into a challenge while adding the ExpressInstall to a recent app. I was publishing a .swf as a Flash 8 file, with a text message that appeared if the user didn't have Flash 8 that explained the ExpressInstall process. The problem was that when I tested on Flash Player 6 or 7, the text message was invisible. I even tested using the so_tester file provided with (previously named) FlashObject, and when published as Flash 8, the upgrade message and button were also invisible.

Fortunately, the latest version of SWFObject (1.4) alerts us to the solution I discovered before its release: you must use Device Fonts for any text that could be displayed by a Flash Player < version 8, if you are publishing to Flash 8. Once I changed my text message to using Device Fonts, I could see the text in Flash Player 6 or 7 and all was well.

Doug Smith, Senior Developer at Barefoot.


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