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Promotional Bias and a bit off topic.[edit]

I do not want to sound like a cry baby, but this article seems very promotional to me. Perhaps this article should be written to be a little less NPOV. Perhaps now that the specification is open it would be prudent to write a bit about the specification in the article instead of discussing its implementation (already discussed elsewhere). After all most people "wikipedia'ng" SWF would probably be more interested in the inner-workings rather than it's existence as a common platform for vector graphics etc... I am not too familiar with editing on Wikipedia or all of the rules so I do not feel qualified to make any changes here. (talk) 11:41, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Under the 'Description section' there is an error: "Based on an independent study conducted by Millward Brown, over 99% of Web users now have an SWF plugin installed, with around 90% having the latest version of the Flash Player.[7]"

I went to that source that was given and I don't see anything mentioning SWF. there is a bar chart that showed 99% of internet-enabled pcs had the adobe flash player installed. So, I don't see how over 99% had a swf plug, but only 90% had the last version of the flash player. Am i missing something? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:36, 26 February 2012 (UTC)


How can Wikipedia state that Flash is an open format given that Macromedia pulled all copies of its license for the open format (version 4) from its web site about a year after it declared it open; and replaced it with a newer license (like the one referred to from the official reference page mentioned by the wiki entry), that contains this clause:

"Pursuant to the terms and conditions of this License, you are granted a nonexclusive license to use the Specification for the sole purposes of developing Products that output SWF."

In other words, only Macromedia can produce flash players.

Surely that isn't really open, in that case?

-- The sentence:

"SWF is an open format, and anyone can implement authoring software without having to pay royalties."

I had the same point earlier on and I deleted that sentence too. Weird how it's come back again? It's definitely not true, so why feed misinformation? I'm taking it out.

It's true now. Adobe released the SWF (v9) and FLV specs without license restrictions, as part of Open Screen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:56, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Open Format Topic[edit]

Way too much effort is spent proving how a SWF does not strictly conform to Open Format guidelines - nearly half the article. Perhaps the entire last half of the article can be shortened into a single paragraph that reads something like, "SWF is not, strictly speaking, an open format as indicated by the Flash Player License <insert link>.

Third party software can be produced to create SWF files using Macromedia's Flash File Format specifications but these specifications cannot be used to create a SWF interpreter." Thoughts? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 19:58, 1 November 2005

The question of formats is pretty important. i'm not an expert on this, but i would guess that explaining things in terms of copyright and/or software patents might help clarify things. The latter only apply in the USA, but many parts of the "free world" such as the EU have refused software patents, and i don't see how someone can copyright a format. In fact, i'm not quite sure how a format whose specification is published on the www can be non-open - unless the idea is that anybody who reads the file carries out an implied contract with Adobe and the terms of that contract include not writing an SWF interpreter? That probably explains the comment about reverse engineering - anyone is free to download N different SWF files and reverse engineer them to discover the content from the "secret" document. Or someone could look at the various tools for creating SWF files and work out how to invert them to read SWF files. But if s/he has clicked on the SWF specification document, then s/he has implicitly signed a document saying that s/he agrees not to write an SWF interpreter. Hard to believe that such a restriction could be legal, but i guess that's the legal world we live in for the moment. Boud 23:31, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
IANAL, but it seems to be a bit more complicated; one is not allowed to use information obtained by reading the document in making a swf player. Of course, if one has read the document, and then produced a swf player, Adobe would have a stronger case in a hypothetical lawsuit, if they can prove it. Take a look at Clean room design for more on that. But the act of reading the document of course is not, and can not be legally binding about producing a swf player in general - indeed it doens't seem to make sense to talk about "swf player" in general in this context at all. "a piece of software that is designed to conform to this specification" and "a piece of software that is designed to play these files that were reverse engineered" are here two completely distinct concepts. That's all only to my best understanding. Krum Stanoev (talk) 16:51, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

SWF in Wikimedia projects[edit]

Why is the SWF file format not used in Wikimedia projects? -- 13:50, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

SWF files under the GFDL?[edit]

Is it allowed to license SWF files under the GFDL? -- 11:10, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

"Linux on Intel"[edit]

When discussing platforms on which the Flash Player is available, the author mentions "Linux on Intel". However, this could be misread (for example, as "not on AMD"). I think the point the author is trying to make is that on only runs on i386, i586, i686 etc systems (x86), and not 64 bit, SPARC etc, but perhaps the meaning could be clarified by saying something like "Linux on x86 architectures". Tpg 2007 08:03, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

Open format?[edit]

Why is the SWF file format not a open format? -- 15:31, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Do you mean, "why" as in: "Why hasn't Adobe made the decision to do more to open up the SWF format?", or: "What part of Adobe's current license regarding the SWF format qualifies it as a non-open format?" The two questions have very different answers. As well, the answers may be very different today than they would have been in 2007 when the question was originally asked. As well, the answers could also vary quite a bit depending on the bias of the person writing the answer. (talk) 19:23, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

troll alert?[edit]

Hey, an IP has inserted some "downfalls" in this article, which I have, well, "converted" to a more intellectual way. Some points fell, because they were only nerd-reasons, but in all i would say that the important facts are mostly said in Macromedia Flash141.201.222.205 12:19, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

An IP says what? 23:16, 26 June 2007 (UTC)


"Plugins to play SWF files in web browsers are available from Adobe for most desktop operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac, and Linux on the x86 architecture."

It sounds funny to say "most" here. Adobe's plugins are available for exactly 4 architectures: 32-bit MS Windows, Mac OS, Linux on 32-bit x86, and Solaris. But then, since the list is so short (we list 3/4 of it already!), why not just list them all? Then we don't need to discuss how many "most" is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:50, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

swf does not mean 'shockwave' ?[edit]

I was told by an adobe/macromedia (at the time) employee .swf stands for 'small web format' and not shockwave, which makes sense : shockwave files are compiled from Director, NOT Flash. Shockwave player runs shockwave files, not Flash files. This has also been agreed by an Adobe trainer I had who stated this fact was also mentioned at an adobe conference he attended. I am of the opinion it is now a widespread misconception that swf = shock wave format/file'

I don't have sources for this but somebody must. One thing that is certainly true is that Flash does not compile shockwave nor are the files it compiles are not played by shockwave player as is implied by some of the flash related pages. Haute Pie 09:34, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Update: More info here and here It states swf was NEVER an acronym but Shockwave Flash does seem to be the popularly adopted meaning, whilst 'small web format' was coined later internally by staff at macro/adobe to avoid confusing with director files. I think this should be mentionedas a noteable fact in itself and to avoid confusion with director shockwave. Haute Pie 09:40, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

  • Except for the PC mag article, every other website and book lists SWF as ShockWave Flash. Restoring the industry-wide terminology until the debate can be solved by an experience Wikipedian. Wonderfl (reply) 03:00, 20 December 2014 (UTC])

Sorry if my edit is not correct, trying to correct seeming contradiction in lead and info box.1archie99 (talk) 18:18, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

synopsis & question by a browser user[edit]

I have gathered from all of the above, that (Consistent with Ms Windows' poorly designed dependence on unofficial file name extensions for 30 years) '.SWF' is used as the extension on at least two types of file: a Macromedia Shockwave file which contains specifically formatted media data, or a sort of macro file which describes and points (links) to at least one media file type (of several types), located elsewhere on the web.
Both of these can be found on the web. If you define .SWF inclusively (not normatively), (".SWF format may include either media data or formatted links to media data files ...") the overall problem can then be acknowledged and addressed by any developer (from now on). Unfortunately, that still leaves most viewers (me) at a loss when trying to view any particular .SWF file.
I suppose that usually the .swf files embedded in any website I visit, will play as expected, but [1] --> 'An error occurred. Please try again later.' merely tells me that at least one of the authors of the entrained software (browser, plug-in, or .SWF) did not agree with one another, and the error author provides no solution pointer.
Given the simplicity of the problem, and the complexity of a simple answer, perhaps someone who knows the details of the issue, can recommend an approach that an ordinary web user could take.
Wikidity (talk) 18:21, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Something missing?[edit]

As I extremely hazily understand it, an .swf file is a very compact affair that doesn't do much more than call on another, typically very much larger file that contains the video. So the shockwave or flash or whatever it is video isn't actually in the .swf file. Am I wrong here? -- Hoary 09:59, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

you could embed it, but it is done like you said for flexibility (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 17:10, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Not all .swf files are used to play video; in fact, most aren't. What you are referring to is video players used on sites like Youtube, which uses an .swf player to play .flv video. I honestly don't understand exactly how this works but .swf files are perfectly capable of containing their own animation without the use of .flv, but the result is "cartoony" due to the vector graphics. Thus video is implemented through another format. (talk) 15:19, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Vector graphics?[edit]

I have an .swf file here which contains a video which can be played by VLC. So how can, as the article claims, SWF be vector graphics then? Maikel (talk) 01:16, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I guess the question is: what's the difference between SWF and FLV (Flash Video)? Maikel (talk) 14:35, 31 January 2008 (UTC)


This article is a hodgepdoge of interesting information, but still needs to be licked into shape. SWF apparently used to be vector graphics but has meanwhile gone multimedia (like FLV). Another question would be as to the differences between FLV and SWF. I'm not competent to do it myself, so please go wild, thanks. Maikel (talk) 15:20, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Naming conventions for image file formats[edit]

Please see the discussion at Talk:Image file formats#Naming_conventions_for_image_file_formats on naming conventions for articles on image file formats. Dcoetzee 00:47, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

Some Very Important information is missing[edit]

I started this morning trying to find out what it would take to produce a really simple game for a website (like blob moves and user has to jump over traps). I thought it would be really easy to search "flash" and find out a few useful things like:

  • Is the file compiled (I assume it is - otherwise I may as well use javascript)
  • What application do I need to compile the file
  • What does it cost i.e. our there open source methods to compile (cause I'm not wasting huge amounts of money to get a blob to jump)
  • How is the language written (Clearly the file must contain information on text & graphics, so are the graphics included in the file or are they inlcuded via links) (talk) 12:00, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
I've added a paragraph on what you can compile it with.. I don't know much about the open source compilers out there, but I've mentioned one too (please expand.. there's a lot of info at )
To answer the questions specifically:
  • It's compiled into bytecode. The Flash viewer may turn this into machine code (JIT compiling).
  • Adobe Flash, or MXMLC (command line) or Flex Builder 3.
  • MXMLC is free of charge within Flex SDK. It does not contain drawing/animations tools, and you'll have to make your blob jump programmatically (i.e. purely using ActionScript)
  • Bytecode is embedded within the file. However, SWF files can be loaded from other SWF files. I'm not sure if "plain text" actionscript can be used or embedded also.

There's still nothing about swf's bytecode in the article, and I don't know the history of it. —Pengo 22:33, 25 January 2009 (UTC) link removed[edit]

I am not spamming wikipedia with tons of links, i just tought that could be a good external link to the SWF topic, since it lists almost every Flash tool which saves in the SWF file format. Please take a closer look and then decide. The website is highly regarded in the Flash community and by many Adobe employers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:57, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

If you mean this edit, then it was not a link that was removed, it was a link to (a website dedicated to promoting an irrelevant company) presented as a link to in its description. This really smelled like one of the thousands of dirty tricks that spammers use on Wikipedia so often. Or it could have also been an innocent mistake, a typo. One never knows. Anyway, before inserting an external link in the External links section, it is important to read the Wikipedia:External links guideline (what should be linked: "material that is relevant to an encyclopedic understanding of the subject").—J. M. (talk) 23:58, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

'The document is claimed to be missing "huge amounts" of information…': passive voice conceals anything about who is making the claim. Can someone clarigy? - Jmabel | Talk 20:45, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

I've attributed (and dated) that quote. JMP EAX (talk) 12:33, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Shockwave vs. Flash[edit]

I just edited Adobe Shockwave Player and Adobe Shockwave to make it clear that Flash content can't be played by the Shockwave Player and vice versa. But reading those articles, I see that Shockwave is embedding some Flash Player components, and both use the SWF file format. Just wanted to confirm my assumption is correct? We should also note the dual use on SWF if it is in fact used by both systems. -- Beland (talk) 19:33, 4 March 2016 (UTC)