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Chapter 21. Creating Web Graphics > (Web) Graphically Speaking

(Web) Graphically Speaking

Just in case you've been living in a cave for the past five years, here's a quick glossary of terms you should know when working with Web graphics.

  • Browser: The software that people use to view Web pages. The two most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator (part of Netscape Communicator), but there are many others as well.

  • Flash (SWF): A file format for publishing vector artwork and sounds in interactive Web sites and animations. SWF stands for Shockwave Flash. (The proper name for these files is Macromedia Shockwave Flash, although many people call them Flash or SWF files.) Originally, you could create Flash (SWF) documents only using Macromedia software. However, the format has become so popular that other applications, such as Illustrator and Adobe LiveMotion, also let you export as Flash (SWF) files. You can export primitive Flash (SWF) animations—no sounds, no interactivity—from Illustrator. To create more sophisticated animations and Web sites, you need an application such as Adobe LiveMotion or Macromedia Flash.

  • GIF: Short for Graphic Interchange Format. This is a format developed by CompuServe (now part of AOL Time Warner). It allows you to save graphics that are much smaller than the color images normally created by scanners and digital cameras and used in print, which use thousands to millions of colors. GIF images are limited to 256 colors, one of which can represent transparency. GIF can be pronounced gif—with a hard g—or jif—with a j.

  • HTML: Stands for Hypertext Markup Language. This is the set of instructions that is used to format text. For instance, when you see text that is written like this, the source code for that text would actually be <b>written like this,</b>.

  • Internet: The system of linked computers that makes Web sites accessible, sends email, downloads files, and contains newsgroups. Also called the Net. Note that the Web is only part of the Internet and is not synonymous with the whole thing.

  • JPEG or JPG: Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is a format that compresses images differently than GIF. As a general rule, GIF images should be used for flat colors. JPEG is better used for photographs and images that need more than 256 colors. (JPEG is pronounced jay-peg.)

  • PNG: Short for Portable Network Graphics. This file format was developed specifically to block the efforts of CompuServe to collect royalty payments on all GIF images used in Web pages. It lets you have millions of colors and soft-edged transparency. It has not been widely adopted, however, because only the newer browsers automatically let you see PNG files. (PNG is pronounced ping.)

  • SVG: Stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. This is the new kid on the block as far as Web file formats are concerned. In fact, Illustrator is one of the first major applications to support SVG. Unlike SWF files, which rely on their own proprietary code, SVG files are based on an XML-based standard language approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). SVG files can be easily combined with HTML and JavaScript in Web pages. Because they are XML-based, they can be used in XML workflows and databases more easily than Flash files.

  • URL: Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. Most people think of this only as the address that lets you go to specific Web pages and the thing that's always frustrating to type. For instance, both www.dekemc.com and www.funpix.com take you to my site. A URL can also be the address that lets you download files or send email. For instance, an address that starts with http will send you to a Web page; an address that starts with ftp lets you download files; and an address that starts with mailto will take you to your email program. For humanitarian reasons, I won't bother telling you what things like http and ftp actually stand for.

  • Web: Short for World Wide Web. Strictly speaking, the Web is only one part of the Internet—the part that displays pages linked together into Web sites. Each of these Web pages can contain text or graphics. However, the difference between Web and Internet is rapidly disappearing; most people use the terms Web, Net, Internet, and World Wide Web interchangeably.



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