Flash-based galleries

A tiny, tiny goby hangs out on a coral Like many people, I sort of hate Flash unless it's used only for small, subtle parts of a website so the entire site still functions as you'd expect it to. But as of the last two journal entries, I've gone to the dark side and am using Flash for image galleries, mostly because I actually *like* looking through Flash-based image galleries. I like that the images fade into each other, thumbnails slide into place as you navigate, and that it pre-loads the entire gallery in the background.

To start my migration to Flash, I'm using SimpleViewer, a free Flash widget that displays images configured in an XML file. For those of us who are lazy, there are many ways to automatically generate SimpleViewer galleries, including using desktop apps like Picasa and Porta, both of which are easy to use and customizable via templates. Eventually, I will probably end up purchasing the code to SimpleViewer and customizing it further, but for now, I'm going to give the free version a try.

There were a few elements of my old HTML galleries that I wanted to preserve.

1. I wanted to make sure that people still had access to watermarked images for download. I know that SimpleViewer can be modified easily to provide access to the original jpgs, but I am not currently going down that route. 2. I want people to have access to the EXIF data in the images. 3. I want the index pages to be indexed by search engines. 4. I want to be able to link to specific images.

1 and 2 can easily be fixed by providing additional links or mouse-over behavior in the Flash app, but I have not been able to think of a way to make 3 or 4 possible without including a HTML version of the gallery as well.

At the moment, I'm including (below the Flash gallery) a table of filenames and captions (which are really what I want to be indexed, anyway) which can be shown and hidden like the EXIF data in most of my HTML image-view pages. This solves all four problems, but adds complexity that I'm not happy with. You have to navigate to a second slideshow to get to the desired images; providing download links and EXIF display in the Flash app itself seems like a more elegant solution to the first two issues, but doesn't solve the others.

Are any of you out there away of a way to use Flash in a way that gives search engines access to filename and caption information? Can people link to specific parts of a Flash app?

I don't know much about Flash, and have never worked with it. Guess it's time to start...