what is flash

The early internet was presented as a series of dumb, text-only pages that simply relayed information or images. But users wanted more than that, and so today’s websites are becoming more interactive. Much of that interactivity is run by sub programs such as JavaScript, but certain elements go beyond simple triggers and that requires a whole new type of programming, and that is where Flash comes in. So, what is flash?


What is Flash?

Flash is a leading vector-animation software program that is used to create interactive sections of webpages. Vector graphics programs are relatively easy to construct and work well with webpages because they are not overly memory hungry, sitting within the structure of the page without affecting the overall running of it.

Flash is generally used in place of HTML (hypertext modifier language) for several reasons, including:

  • Flash movies tend to load faster because the Flash is vector based whereas HTML is not.
  • Flash ‘caches’ its content (i.e. it stores the content locally) and so doesn’t have to be reloaded each time it is viewed.
  • Flash gives the user a more responsive experience than other types of embedded software programs.

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is an embedded platform used to drive animations, rich internet applications, and web browser games. Furthermore, it is the power behind mobile applications and games that we see on out mobile devices. This makes it an important member of the programming software family for a whole range of computing products.

Formerly known as Macromedia Flash and Shockwave Flash, this software was secured by Adobe to add to their expanding array of computer applications. In doing so, it became the main driving force behind the raster and vector graphic applications that provide us with videos, games and applications built into websites. It can also be used to stream both video and audio feeds, as well as capture various keyboard, mouse, camera, and microphone inputs on our devices.

Flash makes our online browsing experience better by allowing designers and evelopers to create more eye-catching and engaging web pages. Flash creates two types of environment:

  • On-page movies: Flash allows movies to stream quicker even if the file size is quite large, because videos can launch and be watched by the user even if the rest of the page hasn’t been fully loaded. This means that the user can watch a movie play as soon as the page loads, rather than having to wait while it buffers.
  • Animations.: Because a flash segment can be run from an on-page trigger (such as a simple button or a ‘click here’ area), it can be used to show something in action or process, such as a short animated clip.

Flash considerations

So in answer to the question ‘what is flash?’, we can describe it as the platform that makes element on a webpage interactive. But be aware that Flash requires a special plugin to work properly and without it your pages will remain dull and dumb. Many people choose to not load, or even disable, flash in order to further help speed up the load time of pages; some even turn off flash over concerns that those elements could carry a virus which might then end up on their computer – this is rare though.

Final Thoughts

Flash is an enormously important part of the rich internet experience and without it we would see most of the web as simple pages of text. We would lose the interaction that has defined Web 2.0, and the whole experience would not be as much fun. However, streaming movies and vector graphics through Flash can become problematic, particularly if they are used by people who want to take control of your PC. As with anything that is interactive on the internet, Flash should only be used on websites that you trust and are happy to stream content from. Everything else should be regarded as suspect until proven otherwise.

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