« PCs running cars? | Main | New Ajax resources »

July 27, 2007

"SWF" stands for...?

"SWF" stands for...? Darrel Plant has some early SWF nomenclature history. (I'd comment there, but he's got enough to read. ;-) It's easiest to think of "SWF" as meaning "SWF" (pronounced "swiff"), rather than being an acronym. But there are historical links to the "Shockwave Flash" and "Small Web Format" monikers. Macromedia Shockwave was among the very first browser plugins, announced the same week in June 1995 as Netscape 2.0 and plugin extensibility, the same week as Java in the browser, VRML, and Adobe Acrobat for the browser were all announced. It was delivered in December of that year, when Netscape 2.0 shipped, and when LiveScript became JavaScript for the first scriptable browser. The "Shockwave" brand was then extended across the Macromedia product line -- Shockwave for Authorware for web learning, Shockwave for FreeHand for vector graphics, Shockwave for xRes for tileable and zoomable images (with a server component)... "Shockwave Audio" arrived a little later, and was an ability in the Shockwave plugin to play the new .MP3 files (which wouldn't take off under the "MP3" name until a few years later). The "shockwave" phrase was registered with the MIME types for these new content types. When Macromedia acquired FutureSplash the next year, "Flash" became the product name, and "Shockwave Flash" was the in-browser component. Macromedia later started a content site called shockwave.com, later renamed shockrave.com (remember raves? ;-) and later merged with Atom Films. Anyway, that's how the "Shockwave" got in the name... it was a wide identifier for interactive multimedia in the browser. But the "Small Web Format" naming did have some informal use in the late 1990s, semi-facetiously, about the same time as "SWF doesn't stand for anything" came about. My take: it's just "swiff" -- faster to say than "jay-peg" or "em-pee-three". Darrel's got a nice Edgar Allen Poe slant to his telling of the story, though, so if you've got a slow Friday morning, it's worth a read.... ;-)

Posted by JohnDowdell at July 27, 2007 9:48 AM