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09/10/2003 Archived Entry: "Web-Based Voice Recording/Playback--FlashCom Demo"

[Update: Nov. 14, 2003--Note: I am no longer posting new voice entries for this demonstration. Instead, please consider adding your voice to Project We Say Tomato!]

The following demonstration (notes for which follow immediately below) will open in a new browser window:


duber dot com: Voice Mail--onCALL Demo 1

(Free Flash 6 Player or higher required.)

I am extremely impressed by the power of Macromedia's Communication Server MX technology and have spent the last several months learning how to develop applications that make use of this technology for streaming both live and archived audio and video.

This Voice Mail application (see the link above) demonstrates how FlashCom technology can be used to record and playback audio messages over the web. All messages are instantly archived and can be retrieved for playback at any time. Because it's designed in Flash, the user interface and all its functionality are infinitely customizable.

In order to conserve bandwidth, only limited excerpts of recorded replies will be made available to the public. Recording time has been limited to 45 seconds for the same reason.

[Update: November 4, 2003]

Also see (for your convenience, these links will open in new browser windows):


Replies: 24 comments

Great demo. I have been thinking it would be really interesting for language students to set up a kind of voice mail bulletin board with audio messages rather than text messages.

I am very interested in Communication Server but it seems as if it is very expensive.

Jamie

Posted by James Pratt @ 09/17/2003 12:31 AM PST


It doesn't work on my system. No message heard.

==================
UPDATE: Feb. 5, 2004:
==================
From Jim Duber, Editor:

Further research has led me to believe that the problem you and a few others have experienced may be due to a firewall issue. Certain firewalls are incompatible with FlashCom as are certain proxy servers.

You can test your ability to connect and learn more about the issue (if interested) at:

Macromedia's Flash Communication Server Port Connectivity Test

==================
END UPDATE
==================

Posted by brian turner @ 09/17/2003 08:01 AM PST


That's probably because you don't have Flash 6 installed (see the link above). Or, possibly your speakers were turned off.

See Macromedia's support page for the Flash player if you still can't get it working.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 09/17/2003 08:33 AM PST


Jamie:

With regards to costs, things are starting to look up. First off, the Flash Communication development tools are now free. So, if you already have Flash MX (or the newly released Flash MX 2004), you can start learning right away.

In addition, hosting fees are starting to get competitive and, depending on the scope and needs of the project, might be deemed acceptable. Also, many colleges and universities are able to host the Flashcom Server on their own resources.

The Flashcom Wiki has a page of links to ISPs that offer hosting services which you can use to research and compare costs of commercial hosts.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 09/17/2003 10:39 AM PST


Hi Jim,

I think I've fixed my mike (last time I tried to record a message it wasn't plugged in) but still am having trouble with recording a message. Playback of your message works fine but when I press replay after recording a message all I get is silence or some momentary buzzing.

Jamie

Posted by James Pratt @ 09/18/2003 12:53 AM PST


You can check your microphone before (or after recording) a message in my demo app by clicking the button that says "Check Mic". You should then be able to see whether or not your microphone is connected and if it's getting any input.

If troubles continue, please refer to Macromedia's TechNote on Configuring a Microphone.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 09/18/2003 07:58 AM PST


Hi: I am a very poor doctoral student currently researching and teaching adult English language learners. This software opportunity is intriguing for use in my online office hours.

Posted by Jacqui @ 09/22/2003 10:32 AM PST


The sound quality is excellent. Great application with strong potential.

Posted by Patricia @ 09/23/2003 03:13 AM PST


I heard the message and tried to send an answer. It looked as if it was being recorded but I couldn't replay it. When I logged out, I got a success message. Did you really get my answer? I use Mozilla 3.1 on Linux Mandrake 9.1.

Posted by Jose Troncoso @ 09/23/2003 09:51 AM PST


Jose,

I got notification that you had tried to record a message. However, it was empty. It "sounds" (sorry for the bad pun) like your microphone isn't properly configured. Check the link above for configuring your microphone.

Within my voice mail system, you can see if your connection is working and monitor your input levels by clicking "Check Mic".

Hope that helps.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 09/23/2003 10:02 AM PST


Jim,

I tried to send another message but I think it didn't work. The link above says nothing about microphone configuration in Linux. Clicking "check mic" opens a dialog to select the input source and ajust the gain level but the level meter shows no sound. However, the microphone works fine with audio editors. It looks as if Macromedia Communication Server can't access the microphone on my system. I even tried selecting another input source, the CD with a CD playing, but the level meter showed no sound either.

Posted by Jose Troncoso @ 09/24/2003 11:49 AM PST


Hi Jose,

OK--I've learned that the microphone should definitely be supported on Linux. You may need to update your Flash player (as it turns out, there was a known problem with an earlier version of the Linux plugin and mic input). Also, make sure you aren't running any other applications that use your microphone at the same time that you attempt to use it in my application.

For details on Flash Player under Linux, see: http://www.macromedia.com/support/flash/ts/documents/linux_player_readme.htm.

Plus, you'll see a note on the page referenced above warning of a known Linux problem. Perhaps this is what you are experiencing:

"Numerous problems running audio out and mic at the same time."

Any help?

Posted by Jim Duber @ 09/24/2003 02:14 PM PST


Very impressive Jim. Nice job. I look forward to reading some of the more technical aspects of the site, HTML, etc. Regards, Tom

Posted by tom tobias @ 10/21/2003 12:33 PM PST


Oh!It is so great,this is the first time I try voicemail and really interested in it.

Posted by Bemai @ 10/31/2003 08:02 AM PST


Thanks very much, Bemai.

By the way, if you read this, could you please get in touch with me regarding your "Project Tomato" entry? It's an excellent entry and I need to follow up with a couple of short questions.

I tried emailing you directly, but the address you left apparently doesn't exist.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 11/01/2003 10:04 AM PST


Wow im realy impressed. Will You publish sorce code of this application ?

Thanks

REGARDS,
Franci

Posted by Franci @ 11/04/2003 05:32 AM PST


Thanks, Franci.

I don't plan on publishing the source code. But, since you seem interested, here is an idea of the code involved:

On the client side--there is one Flash .swf file which presents the main application interface and provides the connection to the Flash Communication Server. It also collects and passes the user data to a PHP script on the web server (via Flash's native ActionScript language).

On the server side--there is coding on the Flash Communication Server which manages the dynamic recording and playback of the audio files. And, on the web server, there is PHP coding which sends a customized email with the user data to the recipient (hmmm..., sorry for all the geek-speak; that recipient would be me!). In addition, there is PHP coding on the server which passes message IDs identifying the selected audio file for playback within a second client-side Flash file.

You can learn about Flash and Flash Communication Server at Macromedia's website.

For the lowdown on PHP, see: PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 11/04/2003 11:11 AM PST


Is it possible to use C# to create
web-based apps for the MX?

Thanks,

Seth

Posted by Seth Dell @ 02/16/2004 01:26 PM PST


Hi Seth,

Yeah, there's quite a bit that can be done in terms of integrating C# and Flash. Here's an interesting post from "hOk's Flash Blog" on the topic of C# to Flash Communication:

http://www.flashfanatiker.de/blog/archives/000032.html

Also, you can search Macromedia's site (and Google) to find more information.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 02/16/2004 02:45 PM PST


Jim,

This is a great demonstration! I wanted to know if this same functionality is available on a standalone basis. I am working on a multimedia project similar to Karaoke, and I would like to give the user an opportunity to record their voice and have it play back with the original sound file. I am stuck though because I cannot find out how to get Flash to record the users voice, then save it to a location where it can be played back in synch with the original. I am just looking to be pointed in the right direction. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
DFC

Posted by Darrel Carson @ 02/24/2004 06:24 AM PST


Hi,

I am working on a flash project which is an elearning program. It teachs language online. I need a small help from you. The user, when he completely goes through the course, he/she may want to record there voice and again play it back. For this i used flash mx server but i am facing a problem. When the user records the voice, the voice is getting stored on the server, which is not good if i am putting this flash program online because all files gets stored on the server only.
so instead of storing on server can it be saved on the user machine.

please help me.....

Posted by Syed Amjad Ali @ 03/30/2004 04:19 AM PST


hi,
its great project.
i want to ask that is it possible to record a stream in flashcom in mp3 format? if yes then how?

Posted by naren @ 05/14/2004 12:23 AM PST


@ DFC --Thanks! As far as I know, there is no current Flash-only solution to record audio on a standalone basis. You might want to look into using Director or Java or another authoring environment.

@ Syed --Same answer as above.

@ Naren --Flashcom records in the flv format. It is possible to convert from flv to mp3 offline (and possibly online). It is also possible to stream mp3 files via a Flashcom server.

Posted by Jim Duber @ 05/14/2004 02:37 PM PST


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