Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Dealing with "Click to Activate" for browser based Flash content

One thing you may have noticed when browsing websites containing Flash content, is that you now need to "click to activate", before you can interact with it. This is not IE being more secure, but rather it is a result of legal action from a company called Eolas who apparently owns a patent that has something to do with how plugins and browsers work together. Without going into the legal rambling the real issue for interactive media creators is how you get around it.

So you have crafted some smooth graphics and smoother actionscript all designed to respond to the mouse at it's merest touch. You object and embed it into a web page, the user opens the page, the mouse moves over the flash movie and... nothing happens.

At least not what you intended. Instead a grey box appears around the flash content and a message appears telling the user to "click to activate". That's alright for you - you know there is a flash movie there to activate. But do your users even know what the message means? Besides that, who wants to introduce another 'click' before your page works properly.

If you don't know what I mean, take a look here (click) and mouseover the yellow box on the home page.

The solution

Well, in fact there are several suggestions. But rather than go into details here repeating what others have said, take a look for yourself: >

and >

While Microsoft is not without its anti-fans wishing it ill luck, it is ironic that when in this case they are not having things their own way, the result is also very annoying for end users too.