Learning how to integrate multimedia into your web pages is as simple as creating hyperlinks to sound or video files. Presto! You've added multimedia to your website. That's not the whole story, of course. You also can embed multimedia files in your web pages. Unfortunately, embedding them can be a little tricky.
Although you need to learn only a few new HTML tags, the multimedia-related HTML elements suffer from what seems like schizophrenia. They're implemented differently in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox, and not supported at all in some cases. One of the elements has never been added to any HTML standard. In addition, there are a number of competing audio and video formats available today. It's almost impossible to learn the ins and outs of each one before more appear with the promise of being the "be all and end all" of multimedia.
Even with recent advances in communications speed (more and more people have broadband connections every day), improved sound and video compression/decompression technologies (MP3 audio files come to mind), and powerful audio and video adapter cards, the Web isn't the sound and video showcase that multimedia proponents dream ofnot yet anyway.
Part of the problem is the incongruity between what we know today's computers are capable of and what we think the Web should deliver. Pop a CD or DVD into your drive and blammo! 3D graphics, stereo surround sound, and full-screen, 30-frames-persecond digital video jump out and assault your auditory and visual senses. Contrast that with most multimedia on the Web, and you will be sorely disappointed. Low-quality sound, small video sizes, and long download times are par for the course.
In this Lesson
Things have gotten a lot better. Macromedia Flash animations are so common that they're being used to create entire sites, and are also commonly used to deliver advertising. MP3 audio files have become so common and widespread that everybody seems to know what ripping a CD means. The downside is that it seems like you're always being asked to download some kind of browser plug-in, and applications on your computer are constantly fighting over which gets to display what kind of multimedia file. Having said all this, I'll try to strike a balance in this lesson between showing you the techniques you can use immediately and the technologies that require you to devote a significant amount of time and energy to apply what you've learned. You'll learn to accomplish the following: