Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
SWF (pronounced “swiff” by some, standing for Shockwave Flash) is the file format used by Macromedia Flash to describe movies built of mainly two elements: vector based objects and images. The newest versions also allow audio and many different possible forms of interaction with the end user. After created, SWF files can be played by the Macromedia Flash Player, working either as a browser plugin or as an standalone (executable) player. Most of the times, SWF files can also be encapsulated with the player, creating a self-running SWF movie.
The file format was first created by Macromedia and had one main goal: create small files of highly entertaining animations. The idea was to have a format which could be reused by a player running on any system and which would work with slower network (such as a browser used with a modem). Plugins to play SWF files in web browsers are avaliable from Macromedia for most desktop operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac and Linux on Intel. Macromedia claims that 98% of web users now have an SWF plugin installed. 
The format is fairly simple, albeit binary, and therefore not as immediately readable as its XML-based rival SVG. SWF has used zlib compression since 2002, and in general the format aims to store all data using as few bits as possible, therefore reducing redundancy. SWF is an open format, and anyone can implement playing or authoring software without paying royalties.
- Official SWF Reference
- Alexis' SWF Reference
- FLASM A free command line assembler/disassembler of Flash ActionScript bytecode
- Flirt An open source Flash parsing and rendering library
- GPLFlash Opensource Flash decoder and plugin
- KineticFusion An standalone RVML <-> SWF compiler/decompiler
- LIBSWF A library for generating Macromedia Flash .swf files from scratch
- MING A SWF output library and PHP module
- MTASC Open source ActionScript compiler
- SSWF A library and a script compiler to create SWF content
- JGenerator Java-based swf generation library and replacement for Macromedia Generator.
- SWFSource SDK Cross-Platform Flash SDK for addition of Flash Import / Export to applications.
- Swfdec , an open source player .
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