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Difference Between FLV and SWF

adboe_logoFLV vs SWF
Adobe has been very sucessful in proliferating their own file formats in the internet. Two of these formats are FLV and SWF. SWF was initially meant to display vector graphics that are small in size so that it can be easily used in web sites. FLV stands for Flash Video and is intended for video streaming on the internet.

FLV is stricltly a video container, thus you should expect that an FLV file only contains video, while SWF files can contain a variety of content. It could contain video, an animation, games, even little applications. The applications can be scripted using ActionScipt to provide scripted responses to what the user does. The complexity of the animations and interactions can range from simplistic menus to full blown mini games with multiple elements and actions.

Though FLV is meant for only a single purpose, it does its job very well. This is evident by the number of video sites that use this format. It is a progressive format and it allows the player to start playing the video even when the whole file has not downloaded yet, something that is very convenient when loading long videos over the internet. FLV also benefits from the use of lossy formats in encoding the videos since it is always important to have as small a file size as possible for faster loading. The audio in FLV files is often encoded with the Mp3 format and the video usually uses the H.264 encoder which can be a little bit more CPU hungry but provides a better picture.

With videos, the SWF format has a few shortcomings that make it a bad choice. First, it uses a lossless compression to maintain the quality of the images that it uses in animations and interactive applets, but this means that the video stored in an SWF file is not compressed and would be too big for use in the internet. It is also not possible to store very long videos inside an SWF file since they are limited to a certain number of frames.

Summary:
1. Both are from Adobe and largely used in the internet
2. FLV is strictly a video container while SWF can contain a lot of different media
3. SWF files can be scripted with Actionscript to provide interaction, something FLV is not capable of
4. FLV uses a lossy compression method while SWF is lossless
5. SWF files can also contain video but are not as good as FLV especially with long and high quality videos


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