3 Replies Latest reply on Jul 13, 2009 10:41 PM by [scott]

    file format question


      can anyone explain the differences in a swf file, a gif file, and a svg file? when would you use one over the other and which is smallest? I get confused about these. Will all of these take transparencies? Thanx for any help.


        • 1. Re: file format question
          Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

          Well, this question cannot be answered easily. It all depends on specific use cases. Let's see:


          GIF - Bitmap format. Limited to max. 256 colors. One of those colors may be tagged to be interpreted as transparent by browsers and image viewers. May contain animation by ways of separate, discrete frames. The color palette is distributed to the animation, hence the more differnt colors are used, the more dithering will occur and the uglier it looks. als file size increases considerably, the longer the animation.


          SWF - Flash container file. Objects embedded are treated "as is", meaning they are animated procedurally while the file plays. The objects themselves can be pixel images, movie clips, vector art or Flash-internal parametric items. No limitations in color palette or duration, file size only increases the more objects are used. Since the animation must be calculated in realtime during playback, variations in speed may occur, depending on the machine performance.


          SVG - Vector based. May contain animation. Rendered on the target device, hence simialr rules as with SWF apply. Support in browsers however is very limited, so it is not widely used. Primarily used on mobile phones for icons and graphic elements (SVG tiny)



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          • 2. Re: file format question
            redcrayons Level 1

            Thanks for the help. I have one other one I'm curious about. Would a PNG file be used for animations like the other files you mentioned or is it for stationery web graphics? Is it superior to the other types of files listed? Can it be compressed more than the others? Will it take any  transparency?



            • 3. Re: file format question
              [scott] Level 6

              Animated pngs are a relatively new concept -- like within the past few months. They are not widely supported and not easily created since most graphics apps can't make them yet. Adobe apps certainly can't. Traditionally PNG are stationary graphics. PNG has always been a great format, however, Internet Explorer has never fully supported PNG images. PNG8 files are similar to GIF files with a better compression scheme. PNG24 images are great - essentially like a jpg + transparency and better compression. But again, support for PNG images on the web (especially IE) is not great. However, PNGS work wonderfully for importing into Word. It all depends on what you wish to do with PNGs.