Building Flash files used to be easy.

I remember playing around with ‘tweening’ in early versions of Flash, but the software has really evolved over the years from being a cute animation package to a serious platform to build Web-grade applications on.

Recently I upgraded to Adobe’s CS3 on my home machine and I installed Flash out of curiosity (it had been years since I’d dug around in it). Upon launching, I quickly realized I barely recognized the software anymore and promptly binned it since it looked far too complicated for me to take the time and figure out.

Thankfully however, there are now 3rd party web sites starting to spring up that can help you build Flash files in a very easy way.

Sprout Builder

Sprout is just one of those places.

Sprout is a web-based Flash editor built in Flash that lets you build your own Flash files (how Meta is that?).

Basically, it’s a very simple way to build out your own Flash-based widgets. It’s just dragging and dropping active elements, linking in actions and then publishing it all in a package to the web. Pretty easy really.

Here’s a couple widgets I built last night. It took me roughly a couple of hours or so to make them – including the time it took to figure out how to use the web site, so not a huge investment.

FOREM Widget

Connect SF 2008 Widget

You can also see the Connect SF 2008 Widget in my sidebar.

I’ve written about how you can use Flash to create a simple slide show widget of your listings before (see Splash Some Flash On Your Site or Creating a Killer Listing Presentation, Part II).

And while those services are still great – Sprout lets you take it one step further; by building a widget that pulls in not only photos, but video, RSS feeds and audio too, allowing you to create a much richer experience.

(I should mention too, that you can build a widget in any size – I just chose to use the same 300×250 template for both that I created)

Here are some ideas for widgets you could build to promote yourself or a listing using Sprout.

In a Realtor widget:

  • A video introduction of yourself and your services hosted on Youtube.
  • A feed of your Trulia Voices Answers (via RSS).
  • Your latest Twitter Tweets (via RSS).
  • Latest ActiveRain or Blog posts (via RSS).
  • Links to Social Network profiles (including your new profile of course, right?).

Or to promote a single property:

  • Photos from a Flickr feed (pulled from a unique tag, the widget would automatically be updated with any new pics you take subsequently).
  • A Yahoo map of the property’s location.
  • A detailed listing description (of course).
  • A video walkthru of the property.
  • Links to the listing on MLS or Zillow.

The great thing about either widget is that they are dynamic, so your content always remains fresh. But more importantly they are highly portable and publishable – meaning you can put them wherever you want; your Facebook profile, your blog or your ActiveRain profile, for example.

But here’s why that is important.

Because of these two attributes (dynamic and portable), many feel the future of the web will widgetized. And this definitely makes sense in the context of real estate too.

Single property web sites (or for that matter – any static listing) may be fine for SEO purposes but ultimately, since they aren’t transportable, they have limited marketing value outside of the wow factor they give the home sellers.

And precisely because they’re not transportable, you force people to come to you (and incur the cost of doing so) rather than taking the information to them – the classic push versus pull dilemma.

Services like Sprout however (and to a more limited degree, vFlyer which also has widgets) could then signal the rise of the Single Property Widget. A whole new way of a creating, publishing and distributing real estate listings online.

And the best thing is you don’t have to be have a degree in computer science to do it anymore.

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