Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements and games. More recently, it has been positioned as a tool for "Rich Internet Applications" ("RIAs").
Flash manipulates vector and raster graphics to provide animation of text, drawings, and still images. It supports bidirectional streaming of audio and video, and it can capture user input via mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera. Flash contains an Object-oriented language called ActionScript.
Flash content may be displayed on various computer systems and devices, using Adobe Flash Player, which is available free for common Web browsers, some mobile phones and a few other electronic devices (using Flash Lite).
Flash files are in the SWF format, traditionally called "ShockWave Flash" movies, "Flash movies," or "Flash games", usually have a .swf file extension, and may be used in the form of a Web-page plug-in, strictly "played" in a standalone Flash Player, or incorporated into a self-executing Projector movie (with the .exe extension in Microsoft Windows). Flash Video files have a .flv file extension and are either used from within .swf files or played through a flv-aware player, such as VLC, or QuickTime and Windows Media Player with external codecs added.
The use of vector graphics combined with program code allows Flash files to be smaller — and thus for streams to use less bandwidth — than the corresponding bitmaps or video clips. For content in a single format (such as just text, video, or audio), other alternatives may provide better performance and consume less CPU power than the corresponding Flash movie, for example when using transparency or making large screen updates such as photographic or text fades.