Alternative Flash-Content Players Flash

While Flash 5 movies play back best with Macromedia’s Flash Player plug-in (or Stand-alone Player), Macromedia has developed Java class files (available in the Flash application folder) so that Java-enabled Web browsers can play Flash movies.

Macromedia has also teamed up with RealSystems and Apple to enable Flash content in RealPlayer and the QuickTime Player, respectively. By enabling Flash content in other players, Macromedia is promoting the acceptance of Flash as the de facto vector standard for Web graphics. Moreover, with so many alternatives for Flash playback, it is more likely that your Web visitors can see your Flash content.

Flash Player Java edition
You can use the Java Player HTML template to enable the Flash Player Java edition in Web browsers. This player will work on any Java-compatible Web browser. However, you need to do a bit of work to make sure that the Flash class files are available on your Web server. The Java Player HTML template inserts the following <APPLET> and <PARAM> tags into a Web document:

You may need to adjust the CODE and ARCHIVE paths to indicate where the class files are located relative to the HTML document. You can find the Java class files (as well as Netscape .JAR and Internet Explorer .CAB files) in the Flash Player Java Edition folder, located inside the Players folder of the Flash 5 application folder. Upload the .CLASS, .JAR and .CAB files to a folder located on your Web server.

You can only use Flash 2-format .SWF files with the Java Player. To export Flash 2 movies, select Flash 2 in the Version drop-down menu of the Publish Settings’ Flash tab. Flash 2 movies cannot use many of the features available to Flash 3, 4, and 5 movies, such as:

  • Alpha channel effects (transparent colors)
  • Shape tweening
  • Mask layers
  • Movie Clip symbols
  • Many Flash actions such as tellTarget, if, loadMovie, and loadVariables

RealPlayer 8.0 with Flash playback
With a little effort, you can repackage your Flash .SWF movies as RealFlash presentations over the Web. Web visitors can use the RealPlayer G2 or RealPlayer 8 to play Flash, RealAudio, or RealVideo (among a long list of RealMedia types) content. Real- Player movies stream from a RealServer (special server software running concurrently with Web server software) into the RealPlayer plug-in (Netscape) or ActiveX control (Internet Explorer).

QuickTime Player
Apple introduced playback support for Flash movies with QuickTime 4. Better yet, Macromedia included QuickTime Flash export options with Flash 4. A Quick- Time Flash movie (.MOV file) is essentially a Flash .SWF file packaged as a QuickTime media type.

You can use the QuickTime HTML template in Publish Settings to create an instant Web page that uses the QuickTime Player plug-in. It uses the <EMBED> tag to prescribe the name, width, height, and plug-in download location:

QuickTime 4 can only support Flash 3 graphics and actions. Remember that Flash 4 only added new interactive components such as ActionScript to the Flash milieu all Flash graphics, including Mask layers and Movie Clips, are supported by the QuickTime Player. Flash movies can act as a timeline navigator for other QuickTime media, such as video or audio. For interactive Flash content, you should limit yourself to the following Flash 3- compatible actions:

Shockwave Player
Since Director 6.5, you can include Flash movies (as .SWF files) in your Director movies, either as stand-alone Director projectors or as part of Shockwave movies (.DCR files) on the Web. The Flash Asset Xtra is automatically installed as part of the default Shockwave plug-in installation process. Among other benefits, Shockwave movies enable you to integrate Flash movies with QuickTime video and use Flash assets with Macromedia’s Multiuser Server (which is part of the Director Internet Studio software package).

Future players, future features
Who can predict where Flash content will show up next? While the Flash Player plug-in has made its way into the browser installations all over the world, there are still other possible avenues for Flash content. Currently, there is no .SVG output from the Flash authoring environment nor are there any conversion utilities to translate .SWF files into .SVG files (at the time of this writing). Or, maybe you would like to see Flash content supported in some other authoring application, as an additional asset.

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