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What is Flash Animation?

Flash is a vector based animation technology developed by Adobe that can be used to create vector graphics-based animation programs with full-screen navigation interfaces, graphic illustrations, and simple interactivity in an antialiased and resizable file format that is small enough to stream across a normal modem connection. Flash elements can include simple text or button animations, scrolling text, slide show pictures and even flash movies, completed with sound.

Since its introduction in 1996, Flash technology has become a popular alternative to animate and make interactive web pages and several software products, systems, and devices. Early versions of Flash content offered very few interactivity features and thus had very limited scripting capability, but more recent versions include ActionScript, a scripting language with syntax similar to that of JavaScript, but a much different programming framework and set of class libraries. ActionScript can be used to create almost all of the interactivity (buttons, text entry fields, pick lists) seen in Flash applications.

An award winning development by Adobe is Flash Remoting, a toolkit that includes a server gateway, components, ActionScript classes, and a debugger. On the Flash side, you have a bunch of ActionScript classes that handle decoding and encoding data while a gateway on the server side also encodes and decodes messages and acts as a dispatcher to call the required service. Data is exchanged in AMF format, a binary format inspired by SOAP (Simple Object Application Protocol). The gateway and the ActionScript classes translate data into AMF, allowing language specific data to be exchanged transparently.

Flex is another presentation-tier solution developed by Adobe for delivering enterprise Rich Internet Applications. Macromedia's Flex product line delivers a standards-based programming methodology and runtime services for developing and deploying the presentation tier of applications that combine the richness of the desktop with the reach of the web.

An important aspect of Flash is that Flash animations are quick to download, are of high quality, and most importantly are browser independent. As long as different browsers are equipped with the necessary plug-ins, Flash animations will look the same. Another important advantage of Flash is that it can retain information locally in a manner that is similar to, but more extensive than, browser cookies. This capability gives Flash users the ability to, for example, remember the level or score a user has achieved on a Flash-based game, or the settings used on a previously visited website.

When compared to other plug-ins such as Java, Acrobat Reader, Quick Time, or Windows Media Player, Flash Player has very small install size and fast initialization time. However, detecting and embedding Flash Player in (X) HTML is not W3C compliant

Simply put, the use of vector graphics such as PostScript, SVG, PDF—when combined with the program code allows Flash files to translate to small sized files that take less bandwidth to transmit than bitmaps or video clips do. This property makes Flash a very attractive solution for delivering mixed content. Depending on the type of application or animation created (in particular, transparency or large screen updates as in photographic or text fades) a Flash movie may need more CPU power than alternatives.



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