What is SWF?
SWF originally referred to “Shockwave Flash” but later changed to “Small Web Format” to differentiate it from another technology that is named “Shockwave”, from which SWF is derived. It is a file format in the Adobe Flash platform used in opening videos, multimedia, ActionScript, and vector type of graphics. At present, SWF files are the most commonly used files on the internet for the display of animation or vector-based graphics.
The use of SWF files started with the company called FutureWave Software. This small company was then acquired by Macromedia which first popularized what we know as “Flash” or “Macromedia Flash”. The original intent then was to create a file format that is small in size and can be used for displaying animations or moving graphics. Macromedia also wanted the file to work on varying platforms even if network connections are slow. By 2005, Adobe acquired Macromedia and owned the rights of the Flash program.
The original version of Flash using SWF files only allowed for the creation of graphics and animation which are done in sequence. Later versions featured more functionality like the audio capabilities of Flash 3, video insertions on Flash 6, and many other interactive features. For the variety of internet browsers scattered all over the world, Adobe provides plugins for users to be able to view and play SWF files using their own web browser. The Adobe Flash player also works as a standalone player of Flash or SWF files. This means that users will still be able to open SWF files even if not online and not using a web browser.
But aside from graphics and animations on internet browsers like the Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, SWF files are also widely used in browser-based games. SWF files sort of became the industry-standard when it comes to displaying graphical images on the web. Based on research, as much as 99% of Internet users are said to have the SWF plug-in installed. This means that almost every person that has access to the net has experienced and has seen SWF files on their own browsers while surfing the net.