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Creating Stunning Effects With Flash

Flash manipulates vector and raster graphics as well as supporting bidirectional streaming of both audio and video, and uses the ActionScript scripting language. Many software products, systems, and devices create and display Flash content, such as Adobe Flash Player. SWF formatted files, called ShockWave Flash movies, Flash movies, or Flash Games, have the .swf file extensions and can be objects in web pages played in an unconnected Flash Player or Projector. Flash Video files have the .flv extension and are used inside .swf files or played on an flv-aware player like Windows Media Player.

Programmers can use Flash to embed video into web pages. They create a Flash file, .swf, which plays the video file; this is the foundation of many popular video websites. The real file is a FLV or F4V file, easily played on generic video player software; the trick is coaxing browsers to play video. This difficulty is a platform-specific problem as there is no universal video format, and the topic of video standards is a hot one. If Flash becomes the standard, the advantage is the productís wide availability and distribution; the downside is it is proprietary technology for which there is no substitute. Because of this, those who do not use Flash Player have an even more difficult time embedding multimedia, especially if the file is outside HTML.

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While Flash movies can run in browsers that are equipped with the correct Flash player components, they cannot run inside an email client such as Outlook or Hotmail. The best way to share video via email is to include a link in the message so that the browser opens and the video can play; Flash automatically decides if the browser window has the proper components on which to play the movie or notify the user of the missing parts.

Flash does have some problematic issues, including irregular text selection actions, difficult form control, and problems with right clicking, which work differently than they do in normal HTML pages. Also, Flash versions 10 and below lack brightness, contrast, gamma, saturation, and audio channel controls during video playback.

The world of web design and programming is dynamic, changing seemingly on an hourly basis. New technologies are developing to increase flexibility and control over file transfer and creation, applications and programs are becoming easier for novices to use, and debates over the future of web standards keep industry members communicating. Becoming familiar with the components of the vigorous entity that is the web is the first step towards contributing to and continuing its evolution.

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