&ot Information Gift: December 2002 Archives

December 24, 2002

Installing Flash .CAB

In October's Archival posting, I noted Macromedia Shockwave and Flash Player archives. While the Shockwave archive hosts standalone installers for all platforms, the Flash Player archive presents raw .CAB files for the Win IE ActiveX platform with no directions on how to use these files.

I've put together some simple instructions on how to install these archived Flash ActiveX controls so you can troubleshoot and test your legacy performance and/or plug-in detection schemes.

How to register Flash OCX (ActiveX) controls from the raw .CAB files.

1.) You'll first need to uninstall the Flash Player ActiveX control—you can either download and run the Flash Player uninstaller for Windows or follow the directions in the technote aptly named "How to remove the Macromedia Flash Player ActiveX control".

NOTE: the uninstaller will remove all versions of Flash Player from your hard drive. However, if you are testing across browser platforms anyway then this will save you some time.

2.) Make sure Internet Explorer is closed.

3.) Determine which WinOS you are using. The typical path to the Flash Player OCX is:

C:\Windows\System\Macromed\Flash on Windows 95, 98 or WinME;
C:\WinNT\System32\Macromed\Flash on Windows NT or 2000;
C:\Windows\System32\Macromed\Flash on Windows XP.

The remaining instructions assume a WinXP OS. Be sure to change the path in the following steps to match your WinOS.

4.) Extract the .CAB files to the following location:

5.) Open a command prompt and enter:
cd \WINDOWS\system32\Macromed\Flash

6.) Now enter and accept the command that registers the new control:
regsvr32.exe swflash.ocx

7.) The Flash OCX is now registered and should be available to IE.

To double-check that things are working properly, go to:

Scroll down to see the Flash movie. Ignore all entreaties to upgrade to the latest version. Once the Flash Player test movie loads, right-click on it to expose the contextual menu; check the last menu entry to see which version you've installed.

That's all there is to it!

Note that OCX releases of Flash Player prior to version 6 are named swflash.ocx; Flash 6 and later releases are now named flash.ocx to get around a problem with the way Flash Player 5 was bundled in WinXP.

Thanks go to Geoff Bishop for supplying the appropriate registry mojo.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 11:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2002

Meet Director MX

Earlier this week Macromedia announced the availability of the latest addition to the MX suite, Director MX. Updated Shockwave Players were posted yesterday and trial versions were made available for download today.

The big hits for Director MX are OS X compatibility for authoring (OS X and OS 8.6-9 for playback), the ability to use Flash MX created assets, including access to FlashCom and Flash Remoting funtionality (Director MX ships with the Personal version of the Flash Communication Server), QuickTime 6/MPEG4 support, the MX standard interface, debugging and accessibility enhancements including a Speech synthesis xtra.

Upgrades from versions 8 and 8.5 are $399. Order one platform before Jan 2 and get the other platform for half-price.

Watch this space over the next week or so as I post notes about my experience beta testing Director MX, issues you might encounter in upgrading or porting content to OS X, working in the new MX environment and bugs that will have to wait for a future dev/release cycle of Director.

For instance, while the Shockwave player did not change (new functionality is provided by xtras), different installs of the Shockwave Player will report different installed xtras, versions and build versions depending on the install type.

Taking OS X as an example, signifigant changes were made that warranted a version update to 9.0. However, to prevent the breaking of existing plug-in detection schemes Javascript will see the 9.0 plug-in as 8.5.1. The OS X Shockwave install also has the largest number of pre-installed xtras.

The following lists the Shockwave install type, version as reported by Lingo's version and environment.productBuildVersion as well as the installed xtras and their version. 9.0 version xtras support the new functionality of Director MX.

Pay attention to how different install types provide more or fewer xtras; some install types trade a shorter download time for deferred functionality and must download the missing xtra when content requiring that xtra is encounted in a Shockwave movie. As these are Macromedia created xtras, they do not trigger the install dialogs required for third party xtras and so should download and install more transparently.

Take-away here is to avoid surprises by checking your assumptions about what functionality the end user is likely to have by default and how version/build reporting differs across platforms and install types.

Windows Netscape install
--runmode & version:
Plugin 8.5.1 net (Bld: 383) PC

--Installed Xtras(22)

TextXtra.x32: 8.5.1
Text Asset.x32: 8.5.1
Swastrm.x32: 8.5.1
Swadcmpr.x32: 8.5.1
Speech.x32: 9.0
Sound Control.x32: 8.5.1
Shockwave Updater.x32: 8.5.1
Shockwave 3d Asset.x32: 8.5.1
RealMedia Asset.x32: 8.5.1
QT6Asset.x32: 9.0
Netlingo.x32: 8.5.1
Netfile.x32: 8.5.1
Multiusr.x32: 8.5.1
MacroMix.x32: 8.5.1
INetURL.x32: 8.5.1
Havok.x32: 1.2
Font Xtra.x32: 8.5.1
Font Asset.x32: 8.5.1
Flash Asset.x32: 9.0
DirectSound.x32: 8.5.1
CBrowser.x32: 8.5.1
Animated GIF Asset.x32: 8.5.1

Windows ActiveX install
--runmode & version:
Plugin 8.5.1 net (Bld: 106)

--Installed Xtras(18)

TextXtra.x32: 8.5.1
Text Asset.x32: 8.5.1
Swastrm.x32: 8.5.1
Swadcmpr.x32: 8.5.1
Speech.x32: 9.0
Sound Control.x32: 8.5.1
Shockwave Updater.x32: 8.5.1
Shockwave 3d Asset.x32: 8.5.1
Netlingo.x32: 8.5.1
Netfile.x32: 8.5.1
Multiusr.x32: 8.5.1
MacroMix.x32: 8.5.1
INetURL.x32: 8.5.1
Font Xtra.x32: 8.5.1
Font Asset.x32: 8.5.1
Flash Asset.x32: 9.0
DirectSound.x32: 8.5.1
CBrowser.x32: 8.5.1

Mac OS X install
--runmode & version:
Plugin 9.0 net (Bld: 308) Mac

--Installed Xtras(28)

XmlParser PPC Xtra: 9.0
Tiff Import Export: 9.0
TextXtra PPC: 9.0
TextAsset PPC: 9.0
Targa Import Export: 9.0
SWA Streaming PPC Xtra: 9.0
SWA Import Export: 9.0
SWA Decompression PPC Xtra: 9.0
Sun AU Import Export: 9.0
Speech: 9.0
Sound Import Export: 9.0
Sound Control: 9.0
Shockwave 3D Asset Xtra: 8.5.1
QuickTime6 Asset: 9.0
PNG Import Export: 9.0
NetLingo PPC Xtra: 9.0
NetFile PPC Xtra: 9.0
Multiusr: 9.0
MPEG 3 Import Export: 9.0
Mix Services: 9.0
LRG Import Export: 9.0
InetUrl PPC Xtra: 9.0
Havok: 1.2
Font Xtra PPC: 9.0
Font Asset PPC: 9.0
Flash Asset PPC: 9.0
CBrowser PPC Xtra: 9.0
Animated GIF Asset: 9.0

Mac OS 9 install
--runmode & version:
Plugin 8.5.1 net (Bld: 106) Mac

--Installed Xtras(20)

TextXtra PPC: 8.5.1
TextAsset PPC: 8.5.1
SWA Streaming PPC Xtra: 8.5.1
SWA Decompression PPC Xtra: 8.5.1
Speech: 9.0
Sound Control: 8.5.1
Shockwave Updater: 8.5.1
Shockwave 3D Asset Xtra: 8.5.1
RealMedia Asset: 8.5.1
QuickTime6 Asset: 9.0
NetLingo PPC Xtra: 8.5.1
NetFile PPC Xtra: 8.5.1
Multiusr: 8.5.1
InetUrl PPC Xtra: 8.5.1
Havok: 1.2
Font Xtra PPC: 8.5.1
Font Asset PPC: 8.5.1
Flash Asset PPC: 9.0
CBrowser PPC Xtra: 8.5.1

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

December 18, 2002

Conspiracy Theory

So, there's yet another Flash buffer overflow exploit, one that the latest version of Flash Player just happens to address.

Of course, this new version had been in the works and in developer beta for the last couple of months, offers bug fixes and new features—coincidence, or conspiracy to accelerate upgrades? ;)

The reported exploit requires hand-editing the header of a candidate swf file and can result in a situation where arbitrary insructions can be executed. Exposure occurs when visiting a site hosting a such a modified swf or possibly receiving same via email.

Thanks to Chris Bedrosian, who related how her office's concerned IT staff was in the process of upgrading every machine in her company to meet this potential threat. For Chris and her officemates, this is a mandatory upgrade. If you haven't yet taken the time to upgrade yourself, this might be a good reason to do so.

Next quarter's Player Census Version Penetration figures should be an interesting read.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

December 17, 2002

Director MX Dev Center

Today in a cross-post to Director developer lists, Macromedia's Bob Tartar announced the new Director MX Application Development Center. Looks like a good range of material written by some respected figures in the Director development community.

I'm still spending time browsing the articles, but I very much enjoyed John Dowdell's historical perspective on Director in The Third Channel of Delivery for Your MX Work.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 16, 2002

Flash 6 Player Update Released

Macromedia pushed out the final release of the latest Flash 6 Player and the Flash 6 Player Update on December 12th for Mac, OS X, Windows, and Linux.

This is the first official Flash 6 release for the Linux platform, and offers both bug fixes and new features to all platforms, the most notable of which are the end of the evil bitmap shifting bug and Windowless Mode support.

All Flash MX authors should also download and install the Flash 6 Player Update (Mac/Win) as the bug fixes, new features and updated debugger will be of use in stand-alone projects as well as those destined for the web.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 12:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

December 10, 2002

Netscape 7.01 Released

Netscape/AOL released Netscape 7.01 (Mac/OS X/Win) today. Based upon Mozilla build 1.0.2, this release finally incorporates Mozilla's popular pop-up suppression and provides better stability. The former is something you'd most likely want to turn on, as the default Netscape/AOL home page generated three (count 'em) pop-ups for me on launch. ;)

Netscape is claiming 12 million downloads of NS 7, if this trend is continued with 7.01 it may soon be worth rethinking your pop-up usage for critical content. I've been using Chimera Navigator as my primary browser for a while now, and its pop-up suppression has exposed several examples of usability issues we can expect users of such browsers to encounter on sites that assume an active pop-up functionality.

NS 7.01 ships with Flash 6.0r47 and Viewpoint Media Player (Metastream 3r4).

The Win version appears to scope out plug-ins installed elsewhere on the system and copy them for use in 7.01, however, I noticed that this left me with both the bundled Flash 6.0r47 and the 6.0r65 GMC version I've been testing.

See the release notes What's New section for more details.

For enquiring minds:
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.0.2) Gecko/20021120 Netscape/7.01

Posted by Lewis Francis at 11:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 4, 2002

Flash 6 Player Final GMC

Last call for the Flash 6 Player beta, released today as a Final GMC. Lots of fixes, especially in the Linux Players. Looks very close to being ready to go; the release notes page provides a bug-posting deadline of 5pm PST on Friday of this week (12/6/02) for beta contest eligibility.

If you have Flash content, this week is your last chance to report problems—once a release is out the door, it can't be recalled, leaving you and your clients having to live with behaviors that might have been flagged and fixable with just a little effort.

Time spent looking for problems in the beta is usually easier and cheaper than time spent creating workarounds for the release version.

New as of 11.20 and updated today are Player Updaters:

"This is a new installer designed for Flash MX developers which installs all the Windows and Macintosh web player installers (both release and debug versions), standalone players (both release and debug versions), and the external Test Movie player into your Flash MX installation folder. This installer also installs the ActiveX control and/or plugin into your browser(s). Please test this installation as well as the players it installs."
Those of us who have the Flash MX development application and are between projects will save time by using this installer, just remember to back up your players beforehand in case you suddenly get work. ;)

As your Flash projectors will be using a beta runtime engine after installing this update, make yourself a reminder to download and install the final, released Player Updater when it arrives.

Posted by Lewis Francis at 11:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 3, 2002

Mozilla 1.2.1 Released, too!

Mozilla 1.2.1 was released today to address DHTML issues inadvertently caused by an incorrect backout in the original 1.2 build (Mac|OS X|Win).

Posted by Lewis Francis at 11:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)