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Difference Between FLA and SWF


Flash, the predominant software used for putting media content on the web, has a few different file extensions. Two of these extensions are FLA and SWF. The main difference between them is what they are used for. FLA is the extension used for the Flash file that is being created. It contains resources like images, sounds, and other materials needed for the final flash file. In comparison, the SWF (Small Web Format) is the finalized file that is ready to be published. Once published in the SWF format, the Flash file can now be opened in the more commonly installed Flash player which does not have the ability to open FLA files.

Because the FLA files contain the various resources to be used in final Flash file, the resources are not converted or optimized for anything. Optimizations are only done once you publish to SWF or any other Flash format. This is done to ensure that minimal quality loss is experienced. Also, any resource stored in the FLA file but isn’t actually used in the application, does not get carried over to the SWF during the finalization process. This is done so that the file size of the SWF is kept to a minimum. This is necessary to minimize the load time of pages as it directly relates to the satisfaction of the visitor to the site.

If you create an SWF file from a FLA file, you should not delete the FLA file because you may want to make some changes in the SWF file. The SWF file is no longer editable, and even if it is possible, it still makes sense to use the source file since it would give the best quality. There are programs that convert an SWF file back to the FLA, but the resulting file is often nowhere near as good as the original FLA file. The optimizations done in converting the FLA to SWF result in discarded information that cannot be recovered by reversing the process.


1.FLA is the extension for Flash editing while SWF is the finished and published work.
2.SWF can be opened in the Flash player but the FLA can’t.
3.FLA holds the raw files while SWF is already optimized for the web.
4.Files in the FLA library that are not used won’t get included in the SWF.
5.FLA files can still be edited while SWF files cannot.

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