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Chapter 3. Basics of Adobe Flash > Vector Versus Bitmap - Pg. 44

44 Chapter 3 n Basics of Adobe Flash Express Animator, and Anime Studio. These front-ends often provide additional support for creating cartoons, with tools more tailored to traditionally trained animators. Flash is still the most versatile, as it creates not only animated car- toons but also interactive media and electronic games due to its scripting lan- guage ActionScript. We are going to be using Flash in this book to develop games for the Nintendo Wii. How you do that is create your content in Flash and then use the WiiCade API to prepare your Flash content to be compatible with the Nintendo Wii console system (something we will cover in Chapter 14). The Flash Player To exhibit Flash content a Web user must have installed a particular piece of software called a plug-in. The necessary Flash plug-in is called Flash Player. Flash Player is free, and approximately 98% of all Web users already have some version of it installed on their computer. Flash is an integrated development environ- ment, or IDE, whereas Flash Player is a virtual machine used to run Flash files over a Web browser. If you have ever surfed the Web on a slower browser, you might have noted how some pages took longer to download than others. File size has a huge influence on how fast Web pages display. Used well, Flash can create relatively small files that are both easy to download and rich with animation, sound, and interactivity. Vector Versus Bitmap Vector graphics are one reason why Flash files are so small. Flash is a vector-based graphics program. You can create two basic types of graphics on a computer: bitmap or vector. Most Web pages display bitmap graphics in either JPEG or GIF formats, but with vector format there are several advantages. A bitmap (often called raster) image file is composed of tiny squares (or pixels) of color information, which when viewed together create an illusion that we perceive as a photograph or other piece of artwork (see Figure 3.3). You may have seen pixels if you've ever zoomed in on an image in a graphics program such as Photoshop. Generally, one GIF or JPEG image is composed of thousands of pixels. Graphics come with instructions, and the instructions a GIF or JPEG image tell your computer is, ``Make this pixel that color, that pixel that color, and so on. . ..'' A vector image tells your computer, ``Make this geometric shape, and make it this