Working with Flash
Flash is a platform upon which developers can produce and distribute multimedia content, such as
web applications, games, and movies. Flash has been around for more than ten years and is currently
owned by Adobe Systems following its 2005 merger with Macromedia.
Flash can be a very expressive medium, traditionally being used to create graphically rich movies and
interactive experiences. It is also popularly used to create and deliver online advertising.
More recently, the Flash platform has gained popularity as a means to integrate video into web pages
by using Flash Video (FLV) and also as a platform used to develop rich Internet applications (RIAs).
Adobe is currently shipping version 9 of Flash Player, as well as Adobe Flash CS3—a version of the
developer environment that can be used to create content that takes advantage of the new features
of the player, including the new ActionScript 3.0 scripting language that offers huge performance
gains over ActionScript 2.0.
To view Flash content, users must have Flash Player installed on their systems. This is a fairly small
download by today’s standards and offers support to all major web browsers on Windows, Mac OS,
and Linux platforms.
Unlike other web browser plug-ins, Flash Player has one major advantage—its ubiquity. It is a very
mature platform that has widespread adoption. Statistics published by Adobe indicate that more than
98 percent of computers have a version of the player installed, and more than 90 percent of these are
Flash Player 9, the latest major version.
This means that developers can produce content safe in the knowledge that they are not going to be
excluding a large proportion of their audience. However, as any good web developer is keen to point
out, it is always important to consider the experience that users without Flash Player will have.