March 31, 2001 - The SWF Format | WebReference

March 31, 2001 - The SWF Format

Yehuda Shiran March 31, 2001
The SWF Format
Tips: March 2001

Yehuda Shiran, Ph.D.
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The SWF (pronounced 'swiff') file format was designed especially for delivery of graphics and sounds over the Internet. It was not designed as a graphic format to be exchanged between graphic editors. It was designed as a very efficient delivery format. The SWF file can be generated by the Flash editor, similarly to the FLA native flash format. You cannot simply load an SWF file into the Flash editor for modifications, because you may lose information during the process. The name SWF came from the previous-generation player, Shock Wave. Here are some of the objectives that guided the development of SWF:
  • On-Screen display. Supports anti-aliasing, fast rendering to a bitmap of any color format, and animation and interactive buttons.
  • Extendibility. The format is a tagged one, so you can extend it without hurting its backward compatibility.
  • Network Delivery. The format was designed for efficient delivery of graphics over the Internet. The files are compressed and they do support incremental rendering through streaming.
  • Simplicity. The format is simple to allow for a simple player.
  • Independence. Files can be displayed without any dependency on external stuff. SWF files don't need fonts from the system, for example.
  • Scalability. Files degrade gracefully on cheap hardware.
  • Speed. Files should be rendered very fast and in a high quality.