Bandwidth refers to the amount of information that is transferred between client computers and a web server. For example, a busy website might use five gigabytes of bandwidth in a month. Every time visitors arrive at your website, some bandwidth is consumed when they download the pages and media from it. Depending on the number of visitors you have and how big your website is, bandwidth quickly adds up over time on a site with some traffic, which can slow things down. It's like adding cornstarch to boiling water...the more you add, the more gooey and bogged-down everything gets. Although this is good for things like stews and pies, it is definitely not good for network traffic. This can be bad for another reason: some ISPs charge based on monthly bandwidth consumption. Therefore, you want to try and minimize how much information your visitors download on each page! Limiting bandwidth consumption affects the way you build your FLA file in many different ways that are outlined in the following sections. You want your visitors to download only the information they need and limit the surplus information they might not be interested in.
The first thing you can do to minimize bandwidth is to go through all your vector drawings, bitmap images, and sound files, and check their publish settings for when the SWF file is generated. For your vector drawings you can select Modify > Shape > Optimize to optimize the vector drawing. This can reduce (or smooth out) the vectors in the shape. If you have a lot of ragged edges, optimizing the shape reduces the number of calculations that are required by Flash to render the drawing. This in turn reduces overall file size and even improves the performance of the SWF file. You can Right-click (or Control-click) on the asset and choose Properties just as you did in earlier lessons for other media assets in the library (such as sound and images). You can change properties in the Publish Settings dialog box, too. Finally, you can use the Bandwidth Profiler in Flash to analyze and work on minimizing the file size and manage how the SWF file is downloaded to the visitor. The Bandwidth Profiler is discussed later in this lesson, and you will learn about the Publish Settings dialog box in the next lesson.