FlashML is a HTML renderer component developed to overcome the limitations of most (if not all) commercial HTML renderers for Flash. To my knowledge, the best commercial HTML renderer is TableMaker by FlashRelief. However, there are numerous issues with FlashRelief that mean it simply doesn't cut the mustard. For example, what good is HTML table support if the tables don't support nesting?
The following features for TableMaker were taken from the FlashRelief website.
|Create HTML style tables in Flash, using XHTML format||Yes||Yes|
|Keep content easily updatable in an external HTML file!||Yes||Yes|
|Same syntax as HTML tables||Yes||Yes (plus more)|
|Most HTML tags and attributes supported including colspan and rowspan||Yes||Yes|
|Embedding fonts has never been easier.||Yes||Yes|
|Style text easily using CSS with your HTML file||Yes||Yes|
|Add external jpg’s, swf’s or linked symbols into table cells||Yes||Yes|
|All this and more, using little to no Actionscript!||Yes||Yes (v1.2)|
|Load the XHTML file through the component panel or with actionscript||Yes||Yes (v1.2)|
|Easily define a function and call that function from the XHTML file.||Yes||Yes|
|After the table is rendered, access and change table cells with actionscript!||Yes||Yes|
|Actionscript event available to check when the table is fully drawn.||Yes||Yes|
|Lightweight, adds only 6k to your Flash movie||Yes||No (8-9k)|
|Save Time. No code to write for parsing XML or to structure data. It's done for you!||Yes||Yes|
|For Flash player 7 and above||Yes||Yes|
|Nested tables||No||Yes (infinite)|
|Custom cell renderers||No||Yes|
Put bluntly, FlashML provides the features TableMaker was meant to provide.
At the time of developing FlashML v1.2, the renderer was proving more accurate than the internal renderer of Dreamweaver MX. Granted Dreamweaver MX is a little more robust than my ActionScript based parser, as FlashML is lightweight, and doesn't need to stand up to the erroneous issues that appear in most HTML files. Certainly, though, the row and column spanning algorythms proved to be incredibly accurate, and the table handling features in general far outdo any other Flash based renderer I've been able to find.
At present, the HTML handling capabilities of FlashML are sufficient enough for most projects, while the custom tag support provided by FlashML allow developers to provide features not already supported. Therefore, I don't envisage much happening with regard to the parser and renderer. However, there are several bugs that, while not major, should be ironed out. Also, I would like to see the current object instantiation capabilities extending to support for full “form” development using HTML alone. This shouldn't take much work, but does require time spent on it, and someone with time to develop it
The easiest way to download and use FlashML is to acquire the binaries for version 1.2, here. However, these binaries are old (more than 2 years), and while it does contain sufficient documentation and an example, it is not as stable or feature rich as the later versions.
To acquire the latest (about a year old, I think) source, you will need to download from the SVN trunk.
For support, development and feature requests, drop a line to the mailing list, at http://osflash.org/mailman/listinfo/flashml_osflash.org