Flash is a multimedia software that allows you to bring together animation, video, audio, and computer programming in one file. In order to work in Flash you must download and use Adobe’s Flash program; when you are done animating, video editing, and programming in ActionScript, Flash compresses the content into an interactive .swf file, which can be embedded on any website.
Back in the day, Flash used to power some of the more robust, interactive experiences on the web. The problem with Flash was that it’s heavy and slow— Flash sites famously eat up computer memory (let’s not even talk about phone memory!), are prone to crashing, and take so long to load that it was common practice to design a cute pre-loader for users to watch while the site loaded.
The reason? Everyone’s favorite…online display ads!
When it comes to online advertising, advertisers want it all: animation, audio, video, and complex interactivity (How else will I get the user’s attention?!), as well as ultimate control (The ad must work on all browsers, no matter how old!). And despite all of the advances in frontend technology, the most reliable way to combine video, audio, and interactivity and make sure it works in older versions of Internet Explorere is still: Flash!
Cocktail Party Fact
Take a trip to a museum of obsolete(ish) technology, without leaving your desk! Check out Big Spaceship’s online museum Pretty Loaded, a fantastically playful and never ending homage to the Flash pre-loader.