We ran across an issue recently which is worth sharing. We were working with a Colorado SEO client who needed to edit a Flash based header and change out some of the linking for better SEO value. Like most online marking companies, we don’t recommend Flash as a major part of sites, but the site owner likes the header and wants to keep it. Here is how they almost ended up with the phrase, “Powered by Sothink” front and center on their homepage:
SourceTec makes an application called Sothink SWF Quicker. It seems like a good resource for those working in Flash or similar animation types. Tracing our clients’ steps, we downloaded the trial version and installed the app. The interface is reasonably intuitive, looks similar to the Adobe Flash interface, and if Flash isn’t something you need to edit very often, the free trial of Sothink SWF Quicker seems like a good option to make a quick edit or update to a SWF file. What our client didn’t realize however, is that any animations created in the trial version of the software will be saved with the phrase “Powered by Sothink” in the upper left corner of the animation. Fortunately, the SEO in charge of the account noticed the text before it went live. If it had, the phrase would have appeared on the homepage (and every other page on the site).
If you’re thinking this is outrageous and the software developer is trying to gather paid licenses through arm twisting, let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment: SourceTec created the software and has the right to distribute it as they see fit. They also document this functionality on their site under the “Limitation of Unregistered Version” section. Well, SourceTec should probably realize that users don’t read the fine print, and stamping a file saved through an application without throwing an alert first seems like a tactic which will upset more users than not. After all, Flash is on its way out for most websites and most users probably want to edit a file or two and move on.
At this point you’re probably wondering how the client was able to remove “Powered by Sothink”, and change out the file. As it turned out we already had software to take care of this issue, but if site owners need to occasionally edit SWF files, they can use a stripped down SWF editor like the SWiX SWF editor without running into this issue. SWiX is a light piece of software that downloads quickly and allows users to make quick changes to an existing SWF file or create new ones. In our case, we started from the original file, changed out the linking and fixed the SEO issue, but if users in a similar situation wanted to remove “Powered by Sothink” from a file, it would be as easy as opening the file in SWiX or a similar light editor, finding that text and replacing it.
For users considering Sothink SWF Quicker to edit a SWF file, we would recommend either: paying for a full version of Sothink SWF Quicker up front if you’re going to edit Flash files often enough to justify the price tag (just under $100), or using a more stripped down application like SWiX from the beginning if you are editing files for personal and not commercial use.