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Flash content is plug-inbased media, following all the rules and restrictions of QuickTime, Shockwave, and the other media covered in the preceding chapter. The file format for online Flash movies is SWF (pronounced "swiff"). Most Flash media is created in the Macromedia Flash authoring programalthough, since Macromedia opened up the format to other developers, more content is being developed in other programs as well. Viewing SWF movies requires the Flash Player, which is available as a plug-in and an ActiveX control. Macromedia estimates that 98% of the web-browsing public has some version of the Flash Player installed. Internet Explorer 6 for Windows comes with the ActiveX control preinstalled .
Like the plug-in media covered in the previous chapter, a Flash movie is embedded in an HTML page, using the object tag and the embed tag, to accommodate all browsers. The code looks like this:
<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/ flash/swflash.cab#version=5,0,0,0" width="365" height="250" title="myflashmovie" > <param name="movie" value="myflashmovie.swf"> <param name="quality" value="high"> <embed src="myflashmovie.swf" quality="high" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/ index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash" type= "application/x-shockwave-flash" width="365" height="250""> </embed> </object>
The classid and pluginspage attributes shown here allow browsers to link directly to the pages on the Macromedia website where the ActiveX control or plug-in can be downloaded and installed.
Dreamweaver makes the process of putting Flash movies into web pages easyalthough the more you know about how Flash operates, the more you'll be able to take advantage of it.
To insert a SWF movie into an HTML document in Dreamweaver, use the Flash object, found under the Media menu on the Common Insert bar (see Figure 16.1), or use the Insert > Media > Flash command.
Don't confuse the regular Flash object with the Flash Text or Flash Button objects. Use the Flash object to insert Flash movies that already exist; use the others to create new, simple Flash movies for navigation or titling purposes.
If you're working within a defined Dreamweaver site, you can also add Flash movies to your documents from the Assets panel (see "Assets Management" in Chapter 18, "Site Publishing and Maintenance," for more on this). The Assets panel also gives you a chance to play each Flash movie to preview it before inserting it in a document (see Figure 16.2).
Like other media elements, the Flash movie appears in your document as a gray box. When it's selected, resize handles let you resize it dynamically in the Document window, and the Flash Property Inspector appears (see Figure 16.3). Pressing the Play button in the Property Inspector plays the movie. The inspector contains all the basic properties that all media have in HTML, such as width and height, as well as a number of parameters specific to the Flash plug-in. For any parameters not covered here, the Parameters button opens a window for entering name/value pairs.
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