Archiving RockYou slideshows

Aidan’s amazing primary 2 teacher keeps a class blog, which is full of lovely slideshows of pictures of the class and what they’re up to (mostly taken by the kids themselves – the “media team”!). It’s fabulous, but I’m really worried about how long it will stay up once the year is over. I decided to do some digging, and work out how to archive the slideshows.

Of course, they’re in Flash – courtesy of RockYou. And saving a Flash to your computer (even if you can do it) doesn’t get you very far – it downloads all the images from the internet as it goes.

Thanks to the fab (and free in both senses) WebScarab (like Fiddler, but it works on Linux too), I was easily able to watch what happens when a slideshow is played on a browser with an empty cache. Here’s what I found:

The blog source contains an <embed> link to a URL like this:<NNmmmDDDD>&ver=102906

This Flash app loads some more apps and a few beacons and things, but the most important thing is this:<NN>/<mmm>/<NNmmmDDDD>.xml

This is a nice little XML file with a /rockmyspace/gallery element that has basic style, colour, and transition information as attributes, and as content has a list of slide elements.  Each of these has an image element – the URL to the image – and a text element – the caption.  Here’s an example:

  <image path=”http://img<YYY><NNm>/<NNmmmD>/<NNmmmDDDD>/<NNmmmDDDD>_<xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>.jpg” />
  <text text=”Isn’t this a cool photo?” />

And that’s all you need!

To summarise:

  • Determine the instanceid of the slideshow.
  • Download the corresponding XML file.
  • Read the XML file, looking for /rockmyspace/gallery/slide/image elements.  (May not always be gallery – I’ve seen other values here).
  • Download the images.
  • Read the captions from the corresponding text elements.

Obviously you have to work out how to display them yourself, and how to recreate the transitions.  But this way you can get at and archive the content that’s been shared by the slideshow author, so it can be enjoyed for years afterward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *