Flash Introduction

CHAPTER 1

FLASH INTRODUCTION


Three most important aspects of Flash: 

1.  Vector-based graphics
2.  Streaming
3.  Compression 

Vector Based Graphics

Traditionally, images on the Web have been bitmaps i.e. images that are made up of pixels, or tine colored dots.  Since each pixel adds to the file size of the image, you have to walk a fine line between quality and file sizes.  Also, when a bitmap image is resized it an deteriorate in quality.

Since one of the main functions of Flash is creating drawing objects, it is vital that it can do this in an efficient and high-quality way.  It achieves this by using a vector-based system for producing graphics, rather than a pixel-based one.  A vector-based system is one where objects, lines and fills are created using mathematical equations.  This has two considerable advantages:

1.  Vector-based images are usually a lot smaller in file size than their bitmap counterparts.
2.  Vector-based images lose very little image quality when they are resized. 

Streaming:

The end product created by Flash (called a Flash movie) can be either a few seconds long or several minutes.  With the latter there could be problems with downloading time over the Web.  Flash overcomes this problem with a technique called streaming.  This feeds information to the browser as it needs it to play the movie, without having to wait for the whole thing to be downloaded to get started. 

Compression:

Most images on the Web are compressed in one way or another.  GIFs, JPEGs, and PNGs all use various forms of compression to decrease their file size.  In the majority of case this has at worst only a minimal effect on the final image.

Flash uses a variety of sophisticated compression techniques, for both images and sounds.  The technical side of this is best left to the experts but there are some preference settings that can be used to determine various compression settings.  These will be looked in the relevant chapters. 

Web authoring:

Although flash movies can be output through a variety of devices, their main function is in the production of Web pages.  However, there is one important point that should be remembered in relation to this:  Flash movies have to be incorporated into HTML documents to enable them to be displayed on the Web.  This means you have to create HTML pages for your site and then insert the relevant Flash movies.  Lukily, Flash has a facility for producing HTML files that incorporate Flash moives.  The end result looks complicated, but Flash takes care of most  of this behind the scenes.

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