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Adobe Flash

Adobe_Flash_Player_v10_iconAdobe Flash or Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a suite of software for manipulating vector graphics, bitmaps, and ActionScript scripts, which are used for web applications, games and videos. Flash Player, developed and distributed by Macromedia (acquired in 2005 by Adobe Systems) is a client application that runs on most web browsers. This software allows to stream audio and bidirectional video. In short, Adobe Flash is an integrated development environment (IDE), a virtual machine used by a Flash player or Flash server to read Flash files. But the term “Flash” may refer to a player, an environment or an application file.

Since its launch in 1996, Flash technology has become one of the most popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web page; many creation and OS software are able to create or display Flash. Flash is commonly used to create animation, advertisements, or video games. It also allows to integrate streaming video in a page, to the development of rich media applications. Flash files, usually called “Flash animation” involve the .SWF extension. They may be included in a web page and read by the browser’s Flash plugin, or read independently in the Flash Player.

From animation to video

Initially focused on animation, early versions of Flash offered little interactivity, scripting possibilities were very limited. Scripts are used to create most interactions (buttons, fields, drop down menus) present in the Flash movies. Scripts can reduce development time as much as the weight of .swf, compared to the use of keyframes, designed primarily for animation. Moreover, they are easily reusable. The programming language of a web Flash client is done in ActionScript; the client communicates with a server via XML or http socket (loadVariables () or the LoadVars class) contrary to AJAX using XMLHTTPRequest or ActiveXObject depending on browsers. An implementation of XMLHttpRequest was brought to flash with features depend on the version of the player.

The Flash Player, since the advent of ActionScript 3.0, has two virtual machines; AVM1 compatible with ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0, and AVM2 compatible with ActionScript 3.0 more oriented programmer due to its complexity.

Years ActionScript Flash IDE Flash Player Flash Lite
2000-2003 1.0 Flash 5, Flash MX 6  
2003-2006 2.0 Flash MX 2004, Flash 8 version 7 et 8 version 2.0, 2.1 and 3
Since 2006 3.0 Adobe Flex 2.0, Flash CS3, Flash CS4, Flash CS5, Flash CS5.5, Flash CS6, Flash CC version 9, 10 and 11  


Flash files can be included in a web page for use on the Internet or can be shown in independent form (as a single executable file, without plug) for offline use. Graphic content of Flash files provides rich web applications with support of the vector and multimedia files that incorporate digital audio and digital video. Flash is used to produce visual content in the approach called “RichMedia” and “Motion Design” Web.

This software is currently used in the following contexts:

  • Creation of Internet sites and video games distributed on the World Wide Web.
  • Creating illustrations.
  • Creating videos for television and film (credits, music videos, commercials, animated shorts).
  • Skins design for television.
  • Creating multimedia applications.
  • Portions of video game interfaces
  • Creating interactive slideshows.
  • Creating banners.
  • CD marketing distributions.
  • Video streaming via the Web.
  • Web module for interacting with a database.
  • Flash Video, .flv extension

Adobe Flash-compatible products

Flash technology is used in many fields of applications and supports:

  • Flash MX
  • FlashPaper, similar to Acrobat PDF format
  • Flash Communication Server, now Flash Media Server since version 2, especially used for audio / video communication / data
  • Flash Remoting MX, gateway to the Flash content related to client-server data
  • Flash Lite, allowing the integration of rich media content, particularly on mobile phones …
  • Adobe Flex RIA Framework
  • Adobe AIR, runtime AIRD
  • Adobe Premiere supports Sorenson video codec

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