Macromedia Announces Flash printing

Macromedia Tuesday announced the Flash 4 Print Authoring Software Development Kit, which allows for web printing directly from SWF files. Dubbed their "web printing for e-business" application, the new technology uses the Flash player to send vector data directly to the print driver and scale the image to the printer's resolution.

The new Flash printing ability fills a need that many web developers have faced as they have designed entire sites in Flash. Often, sites in Flash would not print at all, or the results of the printing were unpredictable. With the new printing technology, Flash developers can make a printed product part of their multimedia presentations. The document that prints need not mirror any of the Flash images displayed in the web browser. In addition, the printed document can be customized on the fly for individual users.

The printing capability does come with a trade-off -- while its vector format allows for a small download, it isn't possible for site visitors to preview the image that will print. For example, a user may click on a banner ad that claims it will send details about a company to a user's printer. However, the user would have no way of knowing what is in the file that will be printed or how long the file is. Still, the new printing capability should prove a boon to such businesses as online map providers that work with Flash files.

The Flash 4 Print Authoring Software Development Kit will be available Wednesday as a free download to registered Flash 4 users on Macromedia's website. Flash 4 sells for $299. An upgrade costs $129.

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