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Chapter 13. Flash, Shockwave, and Other Multimedia

With Cascading Style Sheets (Chapter 6), Dreamweaver Behaviors (Chapter 12), and Images (Chapter 5), you can bring your Web pages to life with interactivity and animation. But as you may have noticed, more and more Web pages these days blink, sing, and dance with sound, video, and advanced animation.

You can create these effects too, but you'll need outside help from programs like Flash, Director, or Java, all of which are designed to create complex multimedia presentations. Dreamweaver provides powerful tools for adding these external media files and embedding them within your Web pages.

Four warnings, however. First, while all of the technologies discussed in this chapter let you expand your Web pages into new and exciting territory, they also require external applications (not just a Web browser). These programs, usually called plugins, are controversial in the Web development community, mainly because they limit your audience. Not all Web site visitors have the necessary plug-ins installed on their computers. Those guests must choose from three equally unpalatable options: go to a different Web site to download the plug-in, skip the multimedia show (if you've built a second, plug-in-free version of your site), or skip your Web site entirely. All media types in this chapter require a plug-in of some kind; see each section for more detail.

Second, it's worth noting that these effects can bulk up your Web site considerably, making it slower to load and making it still more likely that some of your visitors (especially those using dial-up modems) won't bother sticking around.

Third, these flashy multimedia effects are easy to overuse. Blink and flash too much, and you'll find your audience beating a hasty retreat for the cyber-exits.

Finally, creating external movies, animations, or applications is an art (and a book or two) unto itself. This chapter is a guide to inserting such add-on goodies into your Web page and assumes that a cheerful programmer near you has already created them.

External multimedia files like this Flash movie can add a dimension of sound, animation, and interactivity that brings new life to a site, making possible a complexity that's difficult to emulate using HTML alone. In this case, clicking the man on the ladder affects your score and lets you play for bonus points.
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