F-ab is an online flash animation/video channel browser


F-ab is a player for online videos and other flash animations where, instead of a URL, you literally ’tune into’ channels that are broadcast over the internet in the manner of a radio dial. It offers more than 1200 such channels as of this writing, with the possibility of adding your own (including YouTube channels) to the mix. F-ab also has a flash-based videoconferencing component.

This program, as you might have surmised from the text above, is somewhat hard to describe. I knew instantly that I wanted to post it on Freewaregenius if only because of being so interesting, although for all intents and purposes it is hard to see why a user might be inclined to be browsing channels on F-ab rather than on a video sharing site or any of the free video/TV broadcasting programs that have proliferated recently. There are a number of ways in which this program is unique; here are some notes on this program:

  • What it is: F-ab downloads and delivers specific content in the manner of a video sharing service. It is not a player for SWF or FLV player.
  • Interactivity: Has an interactive dimension beyond the experience provided by video sharing, as it not only broadcasts flash video (FLV) but flash animations (SWF’s) as well .
  • The content: there are 4 categories: advertisement, art, science, and sport. I wasn’t really able to see any single thread that connects the different channels on offer, except perhaps that the animations tend to be artsy and “hip”. A lot of the flash advertising animations seem to be there because they are interestingly made rather than as ads.
  • Changing the channel: you can do this by moving a dial. F-ab can support up to 10,000 channels (from 0000 to 9999 on the dial); it currently is up to the 1200 or so channels. It doesn’t really work very well when most channels do not have content. The best way to browse F-ab is to go to the public “search” section and browse the categories/channels there, which are displayed in a list.
  • Publishing a channel: you can publish your own channels on F-ab. Publishing a YouTube channel is extremely easy and literally involves a simple dragging and dropping of your channel’s URL/Favicon onto the F-ab interface.
  • Videoconferencing: F-ab supports flash-based videoconferencing where instead of a telephone number, an email is used for the person to be called. This is disabled by default and you have to go to the preferences to enable it. Note that I did not try the videoconferencing functionality for this review.
  • Options: browse by category, bookmark a favorite channel, scale proportions (or view fullscreen), jump back to previously viewed channels,
  • Source: click the “source” button to open the source web page where your flash movie originated, in case you are interested in finding out more about it.
  • Quirks: might not play some videos correctly because it does not support Javascript, search does not work very well because content is not yet categorized, and, the F-ab site states, for some reason the application will not work if installed in the “program files” folder in vista (but will work if installed in the root directory).

The verdict: this is a rather interesting program, but might be more of a novelty item than a tool you would come back to over and over. The content provided has a definite coolness factor, which complement the sleek design of the user interface. It would be interesting to see how this program develops and whether it is able to find a niche for itself.

Having said this, it might be worth downloading this simply to browse the animations, if you are into this sort of thing.

Version Tested: 2.4.0

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista. Mac OS 10.4.5 or higher. Java runtime environment required.

Go to the F-ab home page to download the latest version (approx 12 megs).

  • Vladimir

    “for some reason the application will not work if installed in the “program files” folder in vista (but will work if installed in the root directory)”

    UAC and Virtualisation in Vista make problems to some programs and perhaps it would work if the permissions on the installation folder are changed manually.

    Probably the program has some problems with the changed services model on Vista.