We are pleased to announce a new website and a new name. Del Padre Visual Productions is now Del Padre Digital. The name change reflects the constantly evolving technology we harness in our business. Established in 1991 as Del Padre Video Productions, the name was changed in 1995 to Del Padre Visual Productions to better describe our services when we embarked in the new world of multimedia and internet development.

Today all of our services from web design to high definition video production is digital hence the new name.

The new delpadre.com is the sixth incarnation of the Del Padre web presence. This site was intended to fulfill several key roles. First and foremost this site was intended to be an easily scalable, dynamic, and easily managed web presence for our company.

Beyond this however the site was developed with many other end goals in mind. Our company wanted to highlight the fact that Flash is a viable platform for an entire website. We wanted a flash site that could emulate an HTML one in basic functions such that have long been unsupported in Flash. Features such deep linking and browser back button support , fast loading dynamic content, coherent loading sequences so users can get to the most important information fastest, and the ability to optimize our site for search engines. We also wanted to capitalize on the raw power of the Flash platform with animation, integrated full screen video, fully dynamic and easily updatable content, with transitions and other subtleties to increase the flow of the site and enrich the user experience.

Technical Challenge

  • Back button support/deep linking
    • By taking advantage of the open source SWFAddress project we were able to create a flash website that could interface with the browsers history allowing the user to use the browsers back button as well as bookmark and link to specific sections of the flash movie.
  • Dynamic content
    • To avoid needing to edit the flash project to add updates to our site virtually all the content was made dynamic, pulling from external files that can be edited via our in browser Content Management System

      • All news and gallery information is pulled from external files when the respective page is accessed. Once it loads the contents of these files, any borders or styles are generated by ActionScript on the fly.
  • Speed
    • This site was built to run on any connection above 756Kbps. We didn’t want our visitors to have to wait for 30 seconds at a loading page, or bring their system to a crawl downloading numerous large assets at once. There were many different ways we came at this problem to solve it;
      • The site is almost completely generated by action script; the initial timeline in the flash file is very small and has few assets on it. By having greater control over the exact order content was generated in we were able to streamline the loading order in many areas without having to extend the timeline or rely on timeline based tweens or dead space. We were also able to reuse much of the code, further reducing the overall files size of the project.
      • We took load order into account when adding more bandwidth and processor intensive assets to the project, for example on the index page, rather than sharing the bandwidth among the gallery content, the full background video, and music files, the site doesn’t initialize loading the video and music assets until the gallery is loaded. Accessibility to the information was our top priority, if that information is good enough the user will be around long enough to see the flashier aspects of the site as well.
      • Server side bandwidth controls, on a slow connection the music player was bringing the site to a halt whenever it started to cache a new song. To side step this problem the flash site posts the song file information to a PHP file which restricts the download speed to 16Kbps leaving a 4Kb buffer over what the song needs to play, but preventing a 2MB mp3 from hogging all the site bandwidth.
      • Much of the content of the site is populated by ActionScript loops, by writing these loops to be as effective as possible we were able to increase overall load times of galleries
      • Processor usage and Memory Leaks. Some aspects of our site had potential for high processor usage and memory leaks, however by actively managing what assets were enabled in the website at any given time we were able to strike a balance between file size and processor demand we were able to keep the system resource footprint of our site relatively low compared to similar websites.
  • Public bookmarking has become a powerful and effective way to get a website noticed so we decided that lacking that support was not an option, this also pushed us to write a much more advanced URL handling system than the one included in the SWFAddress project. This new handling system allows the site to dynamically generate unique links to newly added content keeping our dynamic content source files much more manageable and easily updatable.
  • Intelligent resizing, the site gives priority to certain elements and will attempt to keep them within the viewable area as long as possible when the browser window is resized, lower priority elements dynamically moved and the centering and scaling scheme is modified based on the current window size.

    Search Engine optimization was something that we intended to include from the start, and luckily SWFAddress comes with a good platform to do this from. Some aspects of the platform were modified to handle our different URL management system as well as much more dynamic SEO abilities.

    The entire site runs off index.php however .htaccess rewrites the URL header to reflect the current location in the website. Due to this, any static meta tag information we set in the index.php file would be repeated on every single page of the site, negatively effecting search engine rank. To overcome this we replaced the static information with PHP function calls which would determine what content was showing and update the Meta tags to match.

  • SWFAddress also writes the contents of its data file to the index page as html so that anyone viewing the page without flash player or JavaScript can still view the exact same content as is in the flash site.

    All links in this no JavaScript mode will link to the proper flash page once JavaScript is enabled, this means any links a Search Engine crawls will link to the same section in the flash site.

  • Benefits of this site include
    – Fast and easy updating of content from anywhere in the world.
    – User friendly, intuitive navigation that brings the user to the information they want
    – Search Engine optimized
    – All the power of flash without losing any functionality or benefits of an html site.