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Part: Five Going Public > Animation and Data-Driven Graphics

Chapter 22. Animation and Data-Driven Graphics

The Macromedia Shockwave Flash (SWF) format is the Cinderella story of Web graphics. Before there were SWF animations, the only way to get motion on the Web was to create GIF animations, which required compiling multiple images into one big file.

Then Web designers discovered SWF. Instead of big, bulky pixels, SWF uses lean, mean vectors (like the paths found in Illustrator) to create images and animations. This allows SWF files that create Web graphics and animations to be much smaller than GIF files and animations. You can also add interactivity to SWF graphics or animations; SWF interactivity is built into the file instead of being added on in the Web page, as you would have to do if you were using GIF or JPEG files.

Originally, the only way to create SWF files was to use the Macromedia Flash application or Macromedia FreeHand. Today, Illustrator also lets you create SWF files. With it, you can use some special features to create simple SWF animations. However, if you want to add interactivity to SWF graphics, you'll have to finish them in a full-fledged animation program such as Macromedia Flash or Adobe LiveMotion.

In addition to SWF, Illustrator lets you create Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files, an up-and-coming open standard that exists as an XML-compatible alternative to SWF for vector Web graphics.


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