One type of object that are integrated into the web page are images. The images are static, or animated gifs.
As far as we are limited to standard file formats for web, images are probably one of the objects most multi-platform for web pages (gif, jpg, jpeg and png….): The majority of web browsers know how to display images.
The digital images become a very “mainstream” media, and are fairly easy to implement in a website.
The integration of multimedia materials (audio or video) will also help ”boost” a site, but this kind of file is often very heavy downloading.
Multimedia files such sound and video will not play in standard web browsers and therefore, they require the installation of a “plugin” for reading.
Once the sound file or video produced, the placement in the HTML page is not complex.
The media files are often big in size, and so they take long time to download. They will therefore significantly reduce performance (loading time) of the web page. However, there are technologies for reading (streaming).
HTML5 standard should facilitate the points mentioned above.
Flash (from Adobe Systems – Macromedia) is a proprietary program that allows you to create animations in vector format relatively lightweight. The program generates a file with the extension .fla which is the working file to be ”compiled” into a file with the extension .swf.
Swift is another program to generate .swf files outside the Macromedia area.
In a web page, a Flash movie file (with extension .swf) can be integrated as part of the page (advertising, menu, etc.) or the whole page can be flash but there will always be the HTML skeleton.
The use of Flash in a web page requires the installation of the plug-in “Flash player” which is not available for all systems.
Creating a Flash animation is a complete technology itself. The complexity depends on the expected result but a good result can already be obtained without too much difficulty. Once the .swf file created, integration in an HTML page does not pose too many problems.
A Flash page is heavier than a HTML page that contains only HTML, but is much lighter than most multimedia files.
With Flash, you can create anything. But dynamic interfaces will be favored (moving pictures, small animations). As part of a page, Flash is frequently found in creating banners and games.
It is also possible to create small programs with interface in a programming language like Java. These are small programs called applets. They are completely independent but possibly configurable and integrate into a web page. They are downloaded with the web page and executed by the client computer.
The code is independent of the platform through the Java virtual machine (a small Java plug-in).
Java programming is complex and requires a good knowledge of programming. Many development tools exist.
Performance is limited by the download and installation of the virtual machine.
On the Web, a large number of applet applications can be found: games, ”chats”, menus, etc. Applets manage well the multi-user applications. The functionality of the applets are strictly limited to the security level (for example, an applet may never launch an application on the client machine).
Warning, all levels of security of all browsers do not support launching applets.
In addition, the Java virtual machine manages itself the memory allocations (in C language, memory is managed manually) and so Java applications take more resources.
ActiveX is a solution for creating applications developed by Microsoft. The operating principles are very similar to the operation of applets.
The code is most often dependent on platform (usually Windows and Internet Explorer)
The programming can be done with several languages (C + +, Visual Basic, Java), but requires a good knowledge of programming. Many development tools exist.
Performance is good thanks to the possibility of compilation and the possibility of storing the program to the customer.
The possibilities of using ActiveX are huge and there is little security limitations. Because of this and the link with a platform, ActiveX are often reserved for Intranets.