Traffic jam accompanies Flash arrival

Web professionals are unable to get the new version of Macromedia's Flash development software, as heavy traffic overwhelms the company's purchasing site.

Web professionals were unable to get the new version of Macromedia's Flash development software Friday, as heavy traffic overwhelmed the company's purchasing site.

Many customers who tried to purchase and download Flash MX shortly after it went on sale Friday morning were greeted with a message stating: "Due to an overwhelming demand for Macromedia Flash MX, we are currently experiencing delays at our store. Please return later or call the Macromedia order center..."

The purchasing site appeared to be functioning normally, but slowly, later in the day.

A Macromedia representative said the Flash MX site received exceptionally heavy traffic early Friday but access problems were not widespread.

Macromedia touted the new version of its market-leading Web development and animation software as the most significant revision in the product's history. As previously reported, the new Flash includes a built-in video player, numerous pre-fab elements for building Web pages and full support for Mac OS X, the latest version of Apple's operating system. Macromedia hopes to convince Web professionals to design entire pages in Flash, rather than just using it for animation effects.

For now, the download version of Flash MX is the only one available. A boxed version of the $499 software is set to go on sale Monday.

Zack Millican, a graphics artists in Chattanooga, Tenn., said he was anxious to get Flash MX as soon as possible, partly because Macromedia had done such a good job of promoting the product, teasing current Flash developers with a nine-day countdown that highlighted new features in Flash MX.

"As a techie, Macromedia's nine-day countdown really got me," Millican said. "I went everyday to see what new elements they had to offer."

Millican said that he thinks the initial surge of interest in Flash MX has partly been caused by the pre-fab design elements included in the product, which should make it more accessible to developers who haven't used Flash before.

"I think this really attracts a lot of people that have been intimidated by Flash," Millican said.

Besides Flash MX, Macromedia also released Friday a new version of Flash Player, the browser plug-in that allows Web surfers to view Flash content.

When CNET tried to install Flash Player 6 on Friday, the software appeared to download normally but was accompanied by a security certificate indicating the product was a copy of Flash Player 5 dating back to June 2001. After the download, no new files appeared to have been installed on the PC. A second attempt to download Flash Player 6 was successful, however.

A Macromedia representative acknowledged the company "had a small problem with one of our servers." The representative expected the problem to be fixed before noon PST Friday.