Edison, the next release of Flashcom Server and what might be coming up
03/11/2004
A summary of the MAX sneak peak session

This was very exiting stuff. The whole Flashcom team (and many others) were attending a sneak peak session on Edison (the next release of Flashcom Server) at this year's MAX conference. Chris Hock and Srinivas Manapragada gave us an insight into the Flashcom lab and they confirmed a list of features that may be included in the next full release.

The possible features are as follows.

reliability: a more stable flashcom server when running many applications and many vhosts
scalability: more streams to more users more easily
architecture change: Edge servers may be able to cache Flashcom data for Enterprise deployments
better clustering and easier load balancing
• improved video and higher quality playback
• ultra fast seeking on large video files (currently this is slow)
improved management and monitoring tools
W3C compliant log files (did Chris actually dedicate this to me? I feel honored and will stop pestering him now ;-)
'tons of info on streams' (the server will gather and log much more information on streams and traffic than it is now
XML API for server administration and monitoring
• user definable access controls (so authentication may take place before the actual connection is made)
API enhancements such as
  - serverside support for XML sockets
  - serverside support for Web Services
  - serverside support for JPG streams
  - serverside support for access to the file system (sandboxed)

Extensibility
• API for pushing data to Flashcom Server. This could include audio, video and 'normal' data and may open the door to features such as the push of a Windows Media files (and other video formats) to Flashcom. This could make live webcasts a lot easier. As a developer you may be able to extend Flashcom so features like using a different audio codec serverside may also be possible.
• a third party service integration API (ie LDAP directories)

There seem to be no plans to remove any existing features.

This was all announced as features that may be included and I personally think that most of it is probably already ticked off. However there are some other features that might be undisclosed, for example it was stated that serverside support for Actionscript 2 was 'being considered'.
Chris also stated that he 'liked the idea of multiple bitrate streaming'. Hehe who doesn't?

Another comment he made was that 'screensharing may not be an appropriate feature for Flashcom Server'.

Macromedia may also rethink the licensing structure alongside the architecture changes that are planned. I guess this means that there may be a more expensive 'Enterprise' Edition coming up rather than lower pricing for existing licenses (but that's my personal feeling). It's all about the perceived value of a product I guess and with an enterprise version you may count yourself lucky to get a way with paying a few thousand dollars rather than tens of thousands.

Anyways, I am super excited about these features. Many thanks to Macromedia, the Flashcom team and the whole community for making this product as good as it is. I am looking forward to the beta (which has neither been started nor announced) and to the next few years of Flashcom development to come.

Stefan Richter