Flash Monitoring for Web Performance – Adobe Flash has played an important role in making the Internet a more engaging, interactive place. It serves as one of the preeminent Web 2.0 Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) by allowing enterprises to deliver a high quality on-line experience. Web designers use Flash to incorporate active and interactive content like video and animations. Flash continues to be important driver behind appealing web content and unique user experiences.
However, properly monitoring Flash to ensure users have a consistently compelling user experience, presents a challenge.
Overview: Flash is Part of Standard Web Content
The problem with monitoring Flash requires a short overview of Flash itself in order to understand the nature of the challenge.
Flash became an Internet standard because of its strength at the two ends – at development and at delivery. Adobe tools made it relatively simple to create animation and video files for the World Wide Web, at least compared to other tools. Once published in a Shockwave Flash file format (SWF), the content could easily be embedded in a web page’s HTML code. When implemented properly, the content would stream quickly and display smoothly, as long as the user had the free Flash player installed.
To efficiently stream the content and deliver consistent results for the user, Flash implemented dynamic streaming; the ability to dynamically switch between different streams that vary in quality and size during playback. This delivers the best possible viewing experience based on the situational factors, like bandwidth and system capability. The quality of the stream is scaled up or down without disrupting the continuous playback, and without viewers even noticing.
Flash Escapes Customary Web Monitoring
This dynamic nature of Flash presents a problem to many monitoring companies, including monitoring companies that employ browser-based monitoring. The reason is most browser-based web monitoring solutions can’t handle the dynamic nature of the Flash elements. The work-around used by these organizations is to ignore the Flash (or the monitoring crashes).
This presents a problem to the increasing number of organizations with Flash components. Organizations with Flash components using non-Flash capable web monitoring tool will receive status information indicating everything is working great even though Flash is having problems, end users can, in fact, be experiencing ongoing and significant user experience problems with the Flash components of the website as the non-Flash capable monitoring is ignoring the problem.
Organizations using Flash in their mission critical web presence designed to strongly promote their brand or move prospects in the sales process need to enhance their monitoring capabilities. They need to know immediately when something is wrong, including with the Flash content, or it can lead directly to lost revenue.
Flash Monitoring Methods
One way effective way to monitor Flash apps is with a virtual keyboard and mouse (KVM) over a real browser in a script building process. The KVM are capable of capturing Flash pixel images based on browser events. In turn, the monitoring process then verifies the image captures and any virtual keyboard or mouse actions associated with those images. That process can be automated in such a way as to verify proper script execution, including rendering of RIA-based components (such as Flash) which allows the script to proceed. As long as the script continues, then the web application is verified as functioning properly in a real browser environment.
UserView Provides Comprehensive Flash Monitoring
UserView Web Application Monitoring, by Dotcom-Monitor, provides an innovative and comprehensive approach to browser-based, web performance monitoring that instantly alerts you to performance issues – from response times to appearance or rendering issues, including the presentation of RIA content like Flash.
UserView interacts with the elements of a web page just like a user would, and it monitors performance from points around the world. When users experience performance issues, Dotcom-Monitor instantly captures diagnostic information, including trace-route, video of the error occurring, and page code information. These diagnostics significantly speed up the time-to-repair, reducing downtime and ensuring end users can access a mission-critical website as quickly as possible.[divider top=”0″]
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Adobe Developer Connection / Flash Developer Center