Implications of searchable SWF content at Yahoo! and Google

Posted on:July 02 2008

Adobe announced yesterday that search engines like google and yahoo will soon index flash based websites, basically all SWF files. They don't say how this is going to work, but there are two options IMO: By extracting static texts right out of the SWF bytecode which they claim is already partially done by some search engines today or by running the SWF in a VM and analyzing the displayed content, probably also using the new built-in deep linking functionality of Flash 9.

Besides that this is bad news for end users because flash based websites are generally seen to be clumsy and this might encourage companies to create their websites in flash only now, it is catastrophic for flash game and web application developers if the indexing uses even partially method one: Content which is not ought to be seen might be exposed by those web crawlers, a problem also some websites are facing still today. In order to remove this danger, the only way is to use flash obfuscators with string encryption, such as irrfuscator (which I released in a new version with improved mxml support today btw).

But let's see how they are really going to do this. And let's hope the web won't be converted to Flash applications now because of this.


Couldn't robots.txt be used to prevent them from indexing your SWfs as well?
2008-07-02 18:54:00

of course, but its pretty common for flash games that they get copied (==Stolen) and published on other websites, so you don't have any control of them anymore.
2008-07-02 23:40:00

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Google already do this to a certain degree? I am positive that I have had SWFs show up on my search results before, complete with descriptions and content extracted phrases. And no, the search results didn't link to the webpage containing the flash, but rather to the SWF itself.
2008-07-03 10:36:00

yes, probably this is what adobe meant with some search engines are already doing this to a certain degree, but I never came across something like you described myself before.
2008-07-04 11:20:00

flash development belongs to be very expensive. flash sites are still incompatible with the web and difficult to manage. i don't think (and hope) that it never will be a kind of standard
2008-07-11 12:21:00

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