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Subject: FLASH: Bandwidth & Binaries
From: Len Harrison
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 18:46:15 +0100

As a newbie here, I apparently breached local netiquette with a 12K Flash
attachment a couple of days ago. I also shot myself in the foot in doing so
by sending a version protected from import. Sorry about that.

But I'm interested in raising the issue of binary attachments here. I
suggest the bandwidth issue may be a non-issue for many (most?) of us, and
there are many benefits particularly with respect to Flash.

1) Flash produces very small files considering what they do. The design
intent is Web delivery after all. Attaching flash files is not like
attaching Photoshop documents, Director movies, or even a hefty gif or jpg.
2) Considering the low end of the spectrum at around 33.6 dialup
connections, you should get throughput of about 3K bytes per second (33.6 is
what I use at home and downloads of compressed files run from about 2.6 to
3.8K per second) possibly more. So a 12 K file takes about 4 seconds to
receive at the low end.
3) Suppose that ten people sent one file of this size each day. The
additional download time for slow connections would be 40 seconds. There
were about 102 messages posted yesterday. Suppose HALF of them included
attachments this size? The download would be an additional 204 seconds or
3.4 minutes. That 3.4 minutes per day buys you 51 example files. Seems like
a valid tradeoff here.
4) But how many people have connections significantly faster than 33.6? I
myself am on a T1. How many have a continuous connection, even at ISDN
speeds? For those of us who do, mail just comes as it does. Volume in terms
of number of emails is more significant to me than file size since there's
the need to look at what that envelope in the tray is all about.
5) Which brings us to the next issue: "Old Chinese Proverb". In the case of
Flash a picture probably is worth a thousand words or even 2000. How many
times does someone express a need to do something which others don't quite
understand because they can't see it? And how often is an answer given that
doesn't address the real question because of this? How often is the same
answer repeated in different ways in an attempt to communicate something
graphical in words alone? Seeing the movie and maybe taking the time to fix
it or pass back an example would save all this. This could conceivably
reduce the volume in terms of numbers of messages. It would also increase
the signal to noise ratio.
6) The Chines Proverb seems even more relevent in Flash than elsewhere. If I
have a problem in Director, I can quote a few lines of Lingo or maybe get a
few lines that help. Same in DHTML with scripting and style sheets. Or
nearly any programming language. This stuff works with words (including
symbols) and is effectively communicated with words. But Flash is driven
exclusively with dialogs and other graphic elements. It is much more
difficult to communicate about a graphics program whose interface is fully
graphical without some reference to the thing itself.
7) Of course, not all Flash movies are 12K or less. But I'd be surprised if
the number of binary attachments actually reached 50%. 10% would probably be
more reasonable. And, if the list software used here is anything like lists
I've managed in the past, you can set a maximum attachment size to ensure
that no one sends something larger than the commonly agreed upon standard.
8) The alternative to attachments used here frequently is pointers to Web
sites. There's certainly value in this, particularly for people who maintain
sites devoted to Flash information. For myself, I run two servers. One is
intranet only, the other is a subscription-only internet server. My company
would not be happy if I opened the second one up for Flash examples. I do
maintain several sites across the internet and could conceivably devote one
of these to Flash. But it turns into a bit of pain to ftp a flash file and
update an html page to point to it for the sake of answering an email. It's
a lot easier to drag the file from Explorer to Outlook and hit send. So it's
also much more likely I'd do it if I had something useful on hand. Plus I'm
disinclined to open things up to random strangers. Somehow a list such as
this is different.

Speaking of bandwidth, here's a fair amount of it. But I think it's
relevent. What do others think? Should attached Flash movies be considered
on topic here? This inquiring mind wants to know.

len harrison
instructional designer
lenhatabtcorp [dot] com

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  Re: FLASH: Bandwidth & Binaries, Marc Hoffman
  Re: FLASH: Bandwidth & Binaries, Nigel Randsley-Pena
  Re: FLASH: Bandwidth & Binaries, Joe Crawford

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