Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Macromedia Flash

Macromedia Flash is a vector graphics based graphics animation program by Macromedia. The resulting files, sometimes called "flash files", may be included in a web page to view in a web browser, or they may be played on a standalone player. The most common use is in animated adverts on web pages.

Table of contents
1 Pros and Cons
2 How to disable Flash in Microsoft Windows
3 Competition
4 File Types
5 External links

Pros and Cons


The Macromedia Flash file format has several advantages over "regular"
HTML pages that make it an extremely popular option for ad creation and for some other types of sites. In Flash MX, the ActionScript language has been extended to the proposed ECMA Script 4 standard and can be used to create extensive event driven GUI's. Flash MX 2004 introduced ActionScript 2.0, which features strong types, interfaces, inheritance and other features of advanced object-oriented programming languages.

Macromedia has stated their intention of moving Flash away from the simple animations of web ad banners and move toward true application development.


There are also some disadvantages to Flash and these have caused some of the initial surge in use outside ads to decline, as the negative consequences of Flash use were seen: In Flash MX 2004, the latest releases, several of the disadvantages have been addressed. See for a discussion of Flash and usability.

How to disable Flash in Microsoft Windows

Attempts to download and install Flash can be prevented by adding to the Restricted Sites security zone in Internet Explorer or by blocking access to that site in other ways. Adding ad services to the Restricted Sites zone will prevent them from being able to use Flash ads.

Saving the following text to a file called noflash.reg and double-clicking on it will turn off Flash support in Internet Explorer, by adding Flash to the list of ActiveX controls the system administrator deems a security problem:


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Software\\Microsoft\\Internet Explorer\\ActiveX Compatibility\\{D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000}]
"Description"="prevents Macromedia Flash from running when flags are 00000400"
"Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000400

Saving this to flashon.reg and double-clicking on it will remove the block.


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Software\\Microsoft\\Internet Explorer\\ActiveX Compatibility\\{D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000}]
"Description"="this prevents Macromedia Flash from running when flags are 00000400"
"Compatibility Flags"=dword:00000000

There are exactly five lines in each of these, starting with REGEDIT4 and ending with Compatibility Flags. Use copy and paste to get them exactly as written and avoid the possible effect of line wrapping which can prevent them from working properly.

Combining these steps will let you turn off Flash animated ads and requests to install most of the time, choosing to install it or let it run only when you encounter one of the rare sites which can't be used without Flash.

It's possible to block Macromedia Shockwave with similar files, replacing {D27CDB6E-AE6D-11CF-96B8-444553540000} with {166B1BCA-3F9C-11CF-8075-444553540000} .


In October of 1998 Macromedia disclosed the Flash Version 3 Specification to the world on its website in response to many new, and often semi open, competing formats to SWF such as; XARA's Flare and Sharp's Extended Vector Animation formats. Several developers quickly created a C library for producing SWF. In Feburary of 1999 MorphInk 99 was launched, the first non-Macromedia, or third party program to create SWF files. Macromedia also hired Middlesoft to create a freely avialble developers kit for the SWF file format versions 3-5. Many open and free libraries based on the information released to the public in 1998 and from later study of the SWF file Format, such as Ming, exist to produce SWF files on many platforms. The Flash Files specification for version 6 and later is avaialble from Macromedia only as a PDF under a NDA agreement.

Many Shareware companies produced Flash creation tools and sold them for under $50 USD between 2000-2002. In 2003 competition and the emergence of Free Flash Creation tools, most notably Open Office, had driven many third party flash creation tool makers out of the market allowing the remaining makers to raise their prices, although many of the products remain under $100 USD and support Action Script.

In November of 2003 Microsoft announced that it was working on competing product, Sparkle, whose release would coincide with that of their next-generation Windows OS codenamed Longhorn. The purchase of Creature House Inc's assets in September of 2003 has lead to speculation that their Expression graphics engine would form the basis for the Sparkle product.

File Types

Later versions of Flash can also create files in a variety of static or animated formats.

See also: limited animation, Shockwave, Weebl and Bob (Flash cartoon)

External links

Creating Flash files

Format documentation