I want to add some high-end animation and transitions to my Web site and figure that I need something written in Flash. I also want to add a fun game to the site. That, my friends tell me, should be written in Shockwave. Now I’m confused. What is the difference between Flash and Shockwave?
Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure, but fortunately a buddy of mine, Gary Rosenzweig, is a genuine expert on the subject, author of some great books on the topic (for example, “Macromedia Flash MX ActionScript for Fun and Games”) and head of game developer Clevermedia, so I thought I’d ask him. The following is his answer…
Adobe makes two browser plugins that are used every day on Web pages across the net. You’ve probably heard of them as Flash and Shockwave. You may have even thought that they were the same thing. But, in fact, they are two different plugins.
Many people get confused between Flash and Shockwave. This is mostly Adobe’s (formerly Macromedia) fault. The Shockwave plugin came first, back in 1995, as a way to play back multimedia content, animation and small programs in a Web page. Flash came a few years later, and was dubbed “Shockwave Flash” for a while. The files still use the extension .swf even today.
Shockwave plays back applications built with Adobe Director, a multimedia and application development program also used to make interactive CD-ROM’s and kiosks. Flash plays back applications built with Adobe Flash, a vector animation program that also can be used to build applications.
Flash is definitely the more popular of the two right now, coming pre-installed on most computers and is present on more than 90 percent of all computers browsing the Internet. Shockwave, on the other hand, is only on about half of the computers browsing the Internet.
While Flash is more ubiquitous, Shockwave is more powerful. It includes a full 3D playback environment that uses 3D software and hardware, which is why Shockwave is used for a lot of 3D games on the Web. Shockwave can also incorporate Flash content inside Shockwave applications, which further confuses the two.
To check to see if you have Flash installed, you can go to Abode’s Flash Player page. To check for Shockwave, go to Adobe’s Shockwave page. If you have both installed and up-to-date, you will be able to play almost all of the interactive content available on Web sites.
Thanks to Gary Rosenzweig who has a ton of free online games at GameScene.com, where they feature free online games you can play without registering or giving up any personal information at all, including both HyperJet and TinyQuest.