May 09, 2011

Google Now Provides Flash Support for Instant Previews


Late last year, Google introduced its Instant Previews feature for desktops, which enables users to obtain a quick graphic overview of a website by simply hovering their mouse over a small magnifying glass icon next to a search result.

The feature, which was added to Google Mobile in March, quickly became popular because it eliminates the time-consuming process of having to enter multiple websites before finding what you are looking for. The only problem with Instant Previews is that it didn't offer support for Adobe Flash. This meant that users would not get a proper representation of a website that is loaded with Flash content. These rich components were simply represented by an icon in the shape of a puzzle piece.

Google amended this loophole on Friday by announcing that Instant Previews finally provides support for websites that are loaded with Flash content.

In the majority of search situations, Google will present a snapshot of Flash images when a preview is generated through a traditional crawl, Raj Krishnan, Product Manager at Google, noted in a blog post.

“However, for pages that are fetched on demand by the 'Google Web Preview' user-agent, we will generate a preview without Flash in order to minimize latency,” he added. “In these cases the preview will appear as if the page [was] visited by someone using a browser without Flash enabled, and 'Install Flash' messages may appear in the preview, depending on how your website handles users without Flash.”

Google offered a bit of advice for site owners who often attract these on-demand users. The search giant suggests that websites provide a “reasonable, seamless experience” for users who haven't downloaded Flash. This is probably good advice even without considering Instant Previews.

Furthermore, Google recommends that site owners reduce the loading times for Flash components in order for them to not appear as loading screens. Finally, Krishnan advises that owners submit a Video Sitemap to help the company generate thumbnails for videos in Instant Previews.




Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell




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