[MD1] Flash File Format: Open Net Standard
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[MD1] Flash File Format: Open Net Standard

For Immediate Release

Macromedia
Kirsten Armstrong
kirsten@macromedia.com
(415) 252-4088

MACROMEDIA TO MAKE FLASH FILE FORMAT
AVAILABLE AS OPEN INTERNET STANDARD

Microsoft, RealNetworks, @Home, Associated Press, WebTV, IBM, Broderbund
and Other Industry Leaders Support Effort

San Francisco, CA -- April 14, 1998 -- Macromedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: MACR)
today announced it is making its popular Flash file format (.swf) available
as an open Internet standard for vector graphics and animation. The move
enables platform vendors to provide a more attractive environment to
content publishers, allows web designers to make animation a standard
element in their web site designs, and enables developers to deliver
Flash-compatible authoring and editing tools. The announcement to
standardize Flash receives widespread support from Microsoft, RealNetworks,
@Home, Associated Press, WebTV, IBM, Broderbund, and a host of other
industry leaders.

"Web designers and publishers have to compete for consumer attention and
loyalty - making the visual appeal and usability of their web sites more
important than ever," said Rob Burgess, president and CEO of Macromedia,
Inc. "Flash delivers rich interactivity even in today's low-bandwidth
environments. The decision to make Flash available as an open standard is
another major step in Macromedia's mission to add life to the web."

"Flash is one of the true enabling technologies on the web today, and we
are putting it to great use with RealFlash," said Rob Glaser, chairman and
CEO of RealNetworks, Inc. "Like RealNetworks, Macromedia provides the
industry with the tools necessary to enable richer, more dynamic user
experiences on the Internet. Vector graphics technology offers fundamental
advantages, both in terms of bandwidth efficiency and device independence.
With Macromedia's decision to open the Flash file format, the industry now
has a vector standard around which we can unite."

As an important first step in its standardization efforts, Macromedia today
published the open Flash file format (.swf) and sample code at
http://www.flash.com/open. The company will submit the format specification
to a recognized Internet standards organization. Macromedia will also
license the Flash player source code to Internet platform vendors.

WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FROM LEADING PLATFORM VENDORS
Several leading platform vendors announced support for the opening of the
Flash file format - with many announcing either new or broadened plans to
incorporate the Flash player within their platform. These include: @Home,
IBM, Microsoft, PointCast, PowerTV, Spyglass, Sun Microsystems and WebTV.
Macromedia's plans to license its Flash player source code will allow these
companies to develop, modify or support existing run-time engines to
optimize playback of .swf content on web browsers, set-top boxes, and other
web platforms.

"Macromedia's Flash authoring tool has made a big impact this year for
developers wanting to add interactivity and animation to their web sites,"
remarked David Cole, vice president of the Web Client and Consumer
Experience Division at Microsoft Corp. "As an open systems leader,
Microsoft is supportive of Macromedia's decision to open the binary Flash
file format. Microsoft and Macromedia are now collaborating to develop
Flash output for Microsoft's DirectX Media runtime. This will make it much
easier for developers to reach consumers with the most compelling
multimedia for the web."

"Flash is an important part of the core media technologies that we
incorporate to deliver the on-line @Home Experience," said Tom Jermoluk,
chairman and CEO of @Home Network. "@Home fully supports Macromedia
delivering Flash as open technology to build industry consensus as a
standard delivery mechanism for vector graphics."

CONTENT PUBLISHERS PRAISE FLASH STANDARD
Many web design operations and content publishers also announced today that
they have adopted the Flash open file format as the standard for vector
graphics and animation on their web sites. These companies include:
Associated Press, CBS Sportsline, Columbia/TriStar, Disney Online and
Magellan.

"Flash is the best vector file format we've seen for the web," said Karl
Tate, multimedia design manager at Associated Press. AP is the world's
largest newsgathering organization, responsible for providing news, photos,
graphics, audio and video to more than 15,000 media outlets worldwide.
"We're already planning to use it to display the graphics, charts and maps
that accompany news reports on our web site. We're looking to standardize
on the Flash open file format as our technology of choice for presenting
vector images on the Web."

TOOL DEVELOPERS ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR FLASH
A broad cross-section of software and tool developers also announced their
support for the Flash format. Several companies - including providers of
graphics and animation tools for creative, technical, and business
applications - announced plans to extend existing software tools, while
others said they intend to develop a new tool or application that will
output .swf files. Tool developers announcing support for today's
announcement include: Avenza, Broderbund and Equilibrium. With their
support, Flash is expected to be featured in more than 1 million software
tool products shipped annually.

"It's all about speed these days," said Tim Bigoness, director of product
management at Equilibrium. "Equilibrium DeBabelizer's automated graphics
processing tools speed up web development time and Flash delivers
lightning-quick interactive animations, buttons and graphics. We're
committed to supporting the Flash format in future versions of DeBabelizer
to help make web building and viewing even faster."

THE LEADING VECTOR FORMAT FOR THE WEB
Flash is widely recognized as the de facto standard for vector-based
graphics and animation on the web. The Flash file format is binary to
ensure the fastest possible transmission and display. Its object-oriented
architecture allows objects to be used multiple times after downloading.
The Flash format has proven to be highly platform-independent, capable of
quickly being adapted to different operating systems, microprocessors,
hardware devices and tools. Flash is also extensible, allowing for future
enhancements while still enabling full backwards compatibility.

Web designers and tool developers have widely adopted Flash because it
offers several specific advantages, including:

* Speed. The renderer in Flash has been optimized for fast delivery of
anti-aliased static and animated vector graphics to the screen. Users
experience minimal wait - even over slow modem connections.

* Size. The Flash vector format was designed specifically for use over the
web. As a result, Flash format files are extremely small, even when
animations play back full-screen. In addition, Flash includes support for
streaming, which means Flash files can play while they download.

* Quality. Designed for screen display, Flash features support for
anti-aliased text and graphics, so all letter and image edges are smooth,
even while animating.

* Interactivity. Flash provides an outstanding choice for user interface
design due to its built-in support for interactivity. Any graphic or
animation can be a button, providing UI designers tremendous flexibility in
creating graphical user interfaces.

* Universal Playback. Flash content plays back everywhere through support
for ActiveX, plug-ins, Flash Player Java Edition, GIF, animated GIF,
RealPlayer, and WebTV with or without plug-ins and over slow modem
connections.

"Flash is used by millions of people today and has proven to be portable on
a variety of platforms," said Norm Meyrowitz, executive vice president and
chief technical officer, Macromedia Products. "Opening the file format will
broaden and accelerate its use in real world applications."

"WebTV is proud to be a strong supporter of Macromedia Flash," said Phil
Goldman, senior vice president of engineering and co-founder of WebTV, a
subsidiary of Microsoft. "We were the very first licensee of Flash and have
supported every version of it on the WebTV products. We have also made
Flash an intrinsic part of the WebTV experience, including the Explore:
Best of the Web directory. Flash allows us to create the dynamic experience
that our customers expect on their televisions."

NEW FLASH PRODUCTS
In related news, Macromedia today also announced the immediate availability
of the beta version of Flash 3, an enhanced new version of the Internet's
leading design tool for vector-based graphics and animations. The company
also unveiled Macromedia Flash Generator, a powerful new solution for the
design and creation of data-driven, server-based graphics and animations.
(See related announcement.)

ABOUT MACROMEDIA
Headquartered in San Francisco, Macromedia (NASDAQ: MACR) is a leading
provider of software products, each designed to help make creativity and
interactivity more possible in the new technology ecosystem. Macromedia's
award-winning products for Windows, Macintosh and the Internet are
available to business, education, and government customers worldwide.
Additional information on Macromedia is available on the Internet at
www.macromedia.com.

 

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