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What Is Flash?

The term Flash properly refers to a program rather than a file format. The true Flash file format (using the filename extension .fla) differs from the Shockwave format (using the extension .swf) produced by Illustrator. Macromedia, the company that owns Flash, has chosen to retain the full file functionality as proprietary. Only part of the code has been released for public development and standardization.

Macromedia has, however, loosened its hold on the format and is allowing more and more external development and production. Part of that expansion is the inclusion of Illustrator as a Flash-capable program. SWF is not certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO), nor accepted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as a Web standard. Nonetheless, it is likely that well over 90% of the browsers in use at the beginning of the year 2001 were Flash-capable with or without a plug-in. The majority of the remaining minority were thought to be Flash-capable through a plug-in. In other words, using Flash on your Web site no longer restricts the site to the cutting-edge viewer. The vast majority of Web surfers can now view Flash animations without experiencing difficulty.


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