FAST has added the ability to search for text within Macromedia Flash files via its AllTheWeb.com site, which is apparently a first. Google has been indexing links within Flash documents for some time, but it has not been extracting text from these files.
That said, most Flash documents that I've seen don't typically have a lot of text in them. This means that those who build sites primarily in Flash shouldn't assume that their problems are solved. If your Flash files are heavily-text based, then the change at AllTheWeb.com is definitely good news. If not, then you'll probably still have problems.
In other FAST news, the company has taken over powering results at HotBot UK (and presumably other European-HotBot sites). HotBot in the US remains powered by Ask Jeeves-owned Direct Hit. I think it's fairly likely we'll see this end in the near future, given that Direct Hit's distribution has steadily declined over the past year. Indeed, Direct Hit was dropped as an option at MSN Search this month.
AllTheWeb.com Advanced Search Page
To search for Flash documents, use the advanced search page, go to the Result Restrictions section and set the File format option to Flash.
Using Direct Hit Popularity Results
SearchEngineWatch.com, Sept. 12, 2002
What's Direct Hit? Where is Direct Hit still used? What's the future for the service, especially given that it no longer runs as a standalone service? Find some answer here.
FAST Breaks the Flash Barrier
SearchEngineGuide.com, Sept. 18, 2002
Nice details here on how FAST is interacting with Flash files.