Flash 101 - The Basics

Maxine Winters

Have you ever been to a web site that asks you to download Macromedia Flash? Have you ever seen a Flash button on a web site that had a lot of animation and seemed very hi-tech? If so, you may have wondered what exactly Flash is. Flash is not a new technology, but it is still used in many different ways on the Internet today.

Flash can refer to Macromedia Flash player, and to refer to the program used to create Flash content. Some may wonder what exactly Flash does. Flash is a program that is used to create games and movies that can be put on the Internet. Interactive web sites are also made with Flash. Most web browsers support Macromedia Flash. Flash supports vectors, raster graphics, and ActionScript, which is a scripting language. Finally, Flash can stream audio and video at the same time.

Flash was first introduced in 1996. At that time, most browsers did not have Flash capabilities. However, the amount of browsers with Flash compatibility rose dramatically in a very short amount of time. Businesses started to pay web designers to design sites utilizing Flash. Flash is frequently used with web pages to make them more interactive and even more professional in some cases. Some web pages have animated flash introductions. Advertisements have also been created using Flash. Flash files are generally given a .swf file extension and can appear either within a web page or can be played in Flash Player.

Many people prefer using Flash to other technologies when creating web sites. Some people use animated GIFs. GIF images are really just looped and so they do not take that much memory. However, many people prefer Flash because the user can control the animations. GIFs are limited to 256 colors, while Flash can have millions. Java Applets are other another medium for Flash-like animations. However, some find the programming language too difficult. Flash programming is very easy in comparison to other types of programming, so more inexperienced persons can make interesting animations with Flash.

Macromedia Flash has to be purchased. Once commonly heard complaint is that the software is very expensive. However, there are other programs besides Macromedia’s that can create flash banners and animations. These are often less expensive and can be a good alternative for the budget-minded webmaster looking for a cheap and easy way to create a Flash banner or animation.

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About the Author:

Maxine Winters recommends Flash Text Animation Builder to easily create an attractive flash banner. See for more information.

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