Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a fast way to create rich InternetAdobe Flash content and applications with a better return on investment. Powerful video, multimedia, and application development features allow the creation of rich user interfaces, online advertising, e-learning courses, and enterprise application front-ends. Deploy consistently to Internet users across all major platforms and devices with the leading rich client, Adobe Flash Player. Also available for multiple device platforms including Microsoft® TV, Liberate®, Pocket PC and many others.  With progression to HTML5, however, Flash is being wound down and will become unsupported within the next 3-4 years.

Adobe Flash content can still, in 2017, be viewed globally with support for eleven languages, vertical text, Unicode standards, and assistive technologies functionality.

Vector-based content and applications download faster than their bitmap equivalents. Streaming data content appears immediately, without having to wait for the entire piece to download.

Complete design environment now includes both a natural and Bezier-based drawing tool, Free Transform tool and Pixel-Level Snapping Control, which provide enhanced creative freedom and more control over graphic content. Folders for organizing and accessing layered content, improved cursor feedback, and the ability to resize, cut, and paste multiple frames help you work faster and with less effort.

You can rapidly develop data-driven Internet applications with code formatting, code hinting, and an ActionScript debugger. Develop rich Internet applications that integrate with any application server and transport protocols (HTTP, HTTPS, wireless) using URL-encoded or XML data.

Take advantage of Internet application development trends by using templates and pre-built components to rapidly prototype application interfaces. Download MP3 and JPEG files at runtime and save download and production time. Shared runtime libraries allow commonly used elements to be shared across a site without downloading large files. Shared author-time libraries allow automatic tracking and updating of symbols.

How does Flash work?

Adobe Flash movies are graphics, text, animation, and applications for Web sites. They consist primarily of vector graphics, but they can also contain imported video, bitmap graphics, and sounds. Flash movies can incorporate interactivity to permit input from viewers, and you can create non-linear movies that can interact with other Web applications. Web designers use Flash to create navigation controls, animated logos, long-form animations with synchronized sound, and even complete, sensory-rich Web sites. Flash movies use compact vector graphics, so they download rapidly and scale to the viewer’s screen size.

Concepts and issues relevant to Flash MX

Vector graphics

Using Flash MX, you can create and animate compact vector graphics. Flash also lets you import and manipulate vector and bitmap graphics that have been created in other applications.

Vector graphics describe images using lines and curves, called vectors that also include color and position properties. For example, the image of a burger is described by points through which lines pass, creating the shape of the burger’s outline. The color of the burger is determined by the color of the outline and the color of the area enclosed by the outline.

When you edit a vector graphic, you modify the properties of the lines and curves that describe its shape. You can move, resize, reshape, and change the color of a vector graphic without changing the quality of its appearance. Vector graphics are resolution-independent, meaning they can be displayed on output devices of varying resolutions without losing any quality. As such, Flash graphics are scalable without affecting file size. Vector graphics use mathematics to manipulate images.


Using Flash, you can animate objects to make them appear to move across the Stage and/or change their shape, size, color, opacity, rotation, and other properties. You can create frame-by-frame animation, in which you create a separate image for each frame. You can also create tweened animation, in which you create the first and last frames of an animation and direct Flash to create the frames in between. You can also use ActionScript, an object-oriented programming language, to create animation in Flash.

Using Scenes

To organize a movie thematically, you can use scenes. For example, you might use separate scenes for an introduction, a loading message, and credits. When you publish a Flash movie that contains more than one scene, the scenes in the movie play back in the order they are listed in the Scene panel in the Flash document. Frames in the movie are numbered consecutively through scenes. For example, if a movie contains two scenes with ten frames each, the frames in Scene 2 are numbered 11-20. You can add, delete, duplicate, rename, and change the order of scenes. To stop or pause a movie after each scene, or to let users navigate the movie in a non-linear fashion, you use actions.


The Timeline organizes and controls a movie’s content over time in layers and frames. Like films, Flash movies divide lengths of time into frames. Layers are like multiple film strips stacked on top of each other, each containing a different image that appears on the Stage. The major components of the Timeline are layers, frames, and the play head.


Layers are like transparent sheets of acetate stacked on top of each other. Layers help you organize the artwork in your document. You can draw and edit objects on one layer without affecting objects on another layer. Where there is nothing on a layer, you can see through it to the layers below.

Each movie can have multiple layers, thus providing animation that is not only linear but also parallel: One animation sequence runs on top of another because each is on a different layer.


ActionScript, the scripting language of Adobe Flash MX, allows you to create a movie that behaves exactly as you want. You don’t need to understand every ActionScript element to begin scripting; if you have a clear goal, you can start building scripts with simple actions. You can incorporate new elements of the language as you learn them to accomplish more complicated tasks.

Like other scripting languages, ActionScript follows its own rules of syntax, reserves keywords, provides operators, and allows you to use variables to store and retrieve information. ActionScript includes built-in objects and functions and allows you to create your own objects and functions.

The ActionScript syntax and style closely resemble that of JavaScript. Flash understands ActionScript written in any previous version of Flash.

Streaming capability

In addition to using vector graphics, Flash offers another important feature that increases its Web compatibility: streaming capability. Streaming allows multimedia content to begin playing as soon as it reaches its destination-in this case, the client browser. For example, suppose a Flash file (also known as a Flash movie) has a total size of 100 KB. Using a standard 28.8-Kbps modem, a user must wait approximately 28 seconds for the entire file to download before the movie can begin to play. With streaming capability, the movie begins as soon as the initial information about the Flash file reaches the browser. This means that the user can begin watching the movie while the rest of the data continues to download.

Publishing your Flash movies

When you’re ready to deliver your movie to an audience, you can publish the Adobe Flash document (FLA file) for playback. By default, the Publish command creates the Flash SWF file and an HTML document that inserts your Flash movie in a browser window.

Currently, Flash is not natively supported in browsers. Therefore, for a user to play Flash movies, his or her browser needs a plug-in. Because Flash does not rely on the browser, it is cross-platform capable, which is another advantage.

You can also publish the FLA file in alternative file formats—GIF, JPEG, PNG, and QuickTime—with the HTML needed to display them in the browser window. Alternative formats enable a browser to display your movie’s animation and interactivity for users who don’t have the Flash Player 6 installed. When you publish a FLA file in alternative file formats, the settings for each file format are stored with the FLA file.

The FLA file format can then be converted and compressed into a SWF, which is then inserted into the HTML code using the <OBJECT> tag (for Internet Explorer) or the <EMBED> tag (for Navigator) to display in the browser. When the browser encounters the SWF file, the Flash plug-in is used to display the Flash movie in the browser.

Thus, the only HTML code on which Flash relies is the <OBJECT> and <EMBED> tags.

Some sites are created entirely with Flash, while others use Flash to provide simple animation such as navigation menus and rollover effects. Therefore, while Flash does not rely on HTML, the two technologies can co-exist and complement each other.


Although Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favours a transition to HTML5 due to inherent security flaws and significant resources required to maintain the platform.  In the summer of 2017 Adobe announced that it would declare Flash to be end-of-life in 2020, and will cease support, distribution, and security updates to Flash Player