Flash is a vector-based animation and authoring tool for creating rich media sites on the web. What does it mean to be vector-based? Vectors are shapes that are mathematically defined and remembered that way, unlike a collection of pixels on a grid as it’s handled in bitmap applications like Adobe Photoshop. Because
Flash is vector-based, file sizes are generally very small. Moreover, it is resolution independent, meaning that scaling of animations can be done without losing resolution or increasing file size, and antialiasing occurs on the fly. These are the reasons why Flash is well-suited for Internet delivery.
Standard Flash files have an extension of ".FLA". These are the editable source
files that we will be working on. When you finish an animation, you publish a
compressed file called a Shockwave Flash file that has an extension ".SWF".
•You can view the SWF file within the Flash application, within the Flash player
that comes with the Flash application, or within a browser (see the first branch
in the figure below).
•When you want to deliver your animation over the web, you will publish an
HTML file along with your SWF file and upload both to your website (see the
second branch in the figure below).
•You can also create a stand-alone, self-executable file that will play your
animation without a browser or the Flash player. On Windows, they have the
end suffix “.EXE” and on the Mac, they are called projectors.