File Extension SWF
File extension SWF is most commonly used by Shockwave Flash movies. SWF files are used to display vector graphic animations, and are widely used for the delivery of multimedia and interactive content on the web. Though not as widespread, SWF files can also refer to a Microsoft Sidewinder profile, which is used to store joystick settings for individual games.
The original specification of the SWF file was written by FutureWave Software, whose purpose was to create a format capable of displaying animations albeit with small file sizes. This would enable widespread use of the format by also allowing those with slower Internet connections access to the same content. FutureWave Software was later acquired by Macromedia, who were themselves acquired by Adobe in 2005.
SWF originally contained only vector graphics and images displayed in discrete frames, which allowed simple animations to be played. However, extensions to the format have allowed audio and video to be embedded within SWF files, as well as multiple forms of user interaction. This added flexibility means that SWF files are used for a wide range of purposes including multimedia content delivery, web-based applications, online games and DVD menus. SWF files are similar to File extension FLA files in that all embedded content is included or linked to. However, compression is used to minimise file sizes, and whilst some software claims to be able to extract embedded media, there is no official support for the altering of SWF files as they are designed to be the final, finished product.
Shockwave SWF files can be opened using the standalone Adobe Flash Player software, as well as using any web browser with the Flash plug-in. The Flash plug-in is cross-platform compatible, with versions available for Windows, Mac and x86-based Linux distributions. The SWF format is partially open, though licensing remains strict, so few third party players like Gnash exist.