Adobe Shockwave

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Not to be confused with Shockwave Flash.
Adobe Shockwave Player
Adobe Shockwave Player logo.png
Developer(s) Adobe Systems
Stable release / 17 April 2015; 26 days ago (2015-04-17)[1]
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS 9, Mac OS X (Universal)
Platform Web browsers
Type Multimedia Player / MIME type: application/x-director
License Proprietary[2]

Adobe Shockwave (formerly Macromedia Shockwave) is a multimedia platform used to add animation and interactivity to web pages. It allows Adobe Director applications to be published on the Internet and viewed in a web browser on any computer which has the Shockwave plug-in installed. It was first developed by Macromedia, and released in 1995 and was later acquired by Adobe Systems in 2005.[3]

Unlike the Adobe Flash Player, the Adobe Shockwave Player is not commonly bundled with web browsers; if needed it must be downloaded.[4]


Shockwave movies are authored in the Adobe Director environment. While there is support for including Flash movies inside Shockwave files, authors often choose the Shockwave Director combination over Flash because it offers more features and more powerful tools. Features not replicated by Flash include a much faster rendering engine,[citation needed] and support for various network protocols, including Internet Relay Chat.[citation needed] Also, Shockwave's functionality can be extended with "Xtras".

Platform support[edit]

Unlike Flash, the Shockwave browser plugin is not at all available for Linux or Solaris despite intense lobbying efforts. However, the Shockwave Player can be installed on Linux with CrossOver or by running a Windows version of a supported browser in Wine (with varying degrees of success). It is also possible to use Shockwave in the native Linux version of FireFox by using the Pipelight plugin, which is based on a modified version of Wine.

Shockwave was available as a plug-in for both Mac OS and Windows for most of its history. However, there was a notable break in support for the Macintosh between January 2006 (when Apple Inc. released Apple–Intel transition based on the Intel Core Duo) and March 2008 (when Adobe Systems released Shockwave 11, the first version to run natively on Intel Macs).


Although Shockwave was designed for making a wide variety of online movies and animations, its actual use has become concentrated in the area of game development. It is often used in online applications which require a very rich graphical environment. Online Learning tools which simulate real-world physics or involve significant graphing, charting, or calculation sometimes use Shockwave.


The Shockwave player was originally developed for the Netscape browser by Macromedia Director team members Harry Chesley, John Newlin, Sarah Allen, and Ken Day, influenced by a previous plug-in that Macromedia had created for Microsoft's Blackbird. Version 1.0 of Shockwave was released independent of Director 4 and its development schedule has since coincided with the release of Director since version 5[citation needed]. Its versioning also has since been tied to Director's and thus there were no Shockwave 2-4 releases.

Shockwave 1
The Shockwave plug-in for Netscape Navigator 2.0 was released in 1995, along with the standalone Afterburner utility to compress Director files for Shockwave playback. The first large-scale multimedia site to use Shockwave was Intel's 25th Anniversary of the Microprocessor at the Wayback Machine (archived January 3, 1997).
Shockwave 2
Shockwave 3
Shockwave 4
Shockwave 5
Afterburner is integrated into the Director 5.0 authoring tool as an Xtra.
Shockwave 6
Added support for Shockwave Audio (swa) which consisted of the emerging MP3 file format with some additional headers.
Shockwave 7
Added support for linked media including images and casts.
Added support for Shockwave Multiuser Server.
Shockwave 8.5
Added support for Intel's 3D technologies including rendering.
Shockwave 9
Shockwave 10
Last version to support Mac OS X 10.3 and lower, and Mac OS 9.
Shockwave 11
Added support for Intel-based Macs.
Shockwave 12
Shockwave 12.1

Latest version[edit]

See the infobox at the top of this article for the current version. It is supported by 32- and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. It has content made from previous versions as well as Director MX 2004. From version Shockwave is supported in both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.[5]


Some security experts advise users to uninstall Adobe Shockwave Player because "it bundles a component of Adobe Flash that is more than 15 months behind on security updates, and which can be used to backdoor virtually any computer running it", in the words of Brian Krebs. This opinion is based on research by Will Dormann, who goes on to say that Shockwave is architecturally flawed because it contains a separate version of the Flash runtime that is updated much less often than Flash itself.[6] Additionally Krebs writes that "Shockwave has several modules that don’t opt in to trivial exploit mitigation techniques built into Microsoft Windows, such as SafeSEH."[7][8]

Branding and name confusion[edit]

In an attempt to raise its brand profile, all Macromedia players prefixed Shockwave to their names in the late 1990s. Although this campaign was successful and helped establish Shockwave Flash as a multimedia plugin,[citation needed] Shockwave and Flash became more difficult to maintain as separate products. In 2005, Macromedia marketed three distinct browser player plugins under the brand names Macromedia Authorware, Macromedia Shockwave, and Macromedia Flash.

Macromedia also released a web browser plug-in for viewing Macromedia FreeHand files online. It was branded Macromedia Shockwave for FreeHand and displayed specially compressed .fhc Freehand files.[9]

Later, with the acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe Systems slowly began to rebrand all products related to Shockwave.[clarification needed]


According to a July 2011 survey conducted by Millward Brown and published on Adobe's site, Flash had 99% market penetration in desktop browsers in the so-called "mature markets" (defined as United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), while Shockwave claimed only 41% in these markets.[10]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]