I’ve seen quite a few questions on forums and mailing lists over time and recently a few in my inbox from current clients and random question askers that I get coming through. One of the main problems that some people have is that they just don’t know where to start. What is Flash Media Server? What can it do? How can I make money with it? How will it help me make my business better? and most commonly, how do I develop for it?
Well, these questions are all very valid and important when embarking on the path of a new technology within your business. Being that FMS is a large investment out of the gate ($4500 for the interactive version), you want to make sure you are going to get a good return on investment. The best way to do that obviously is to be able to take good advantage of the software. Anybody can buy Photoshop and manipulate a few pictures here and there, but it takes a good skilled designer to really harness the power of the software to make amazing graphics and picture modifications.
Flash Media Server is obviously no different. Right away everybody wants to stream some video. VOD, Live, whatever, let’s just stream some video! With that of course comes all kinds of thoughts. Do you want to provide more than one bit rate? Do you want to protect it? Do you want to provide one version to one set of users and one set to another? What about security, how to stop malicious users from taking over the software? and so on. With a good understanding of what FMS is and how to manipulate it to do what you want, you can then finally harness the power of it and get the ROI that we’re talking about.
With all that said, it’s good to point out that FMS does work well out of the box. Need to stream some VOD? just put it i the right folder and hook up the player that comes with the examples and you’re good. Live streaming is just about the same, all of the instructions to do that come with the documentation for the server. Which is the first place I’d like to point anybody to, the livedocs and also there are the PDFs that come with the server software. Well worth your time to read over.
I would say that the most important would be to read the developer’s guide but also the installing guide and technical overview. Once you are done those you should be a wizard at FMS and from this point forward it’s just understanding the API to talk to it with.
Once you’ve got your feet wet there, you may start looking for particular subjects to understand. Like how to kick a user out, or maybe making a user list to show all that are connected. Maybe you want to make a custom video player or live streaming page. For these items you can start up on Adobe’s devnet articles page for FMS. There are a lot of really great articles here. Once you’ve been through there and not found what you need then of course give our tutorials page a run through, we have a tab dedicated for FMS.
That is more than enough to get you started I’m sure. Remember that while FMS is very powerful and large, there are set ways of doing things and once you get those down then you can have your jumping point to really getting into the nitty gritty and making some cool things happen. At the time of this article, Adobe is working hard on 4.5 of FMS which will finally incorporate the ability to stream to iOS. I’m sure there will be a good handbook for getting started there and how to make it all work. Good interesting times to come and lots to learn if you’re just getting in now. It’s not too late at all and well worth putting FMS into your toolbox, think about it, when was the last time you didn’t see streaming video on the internet?