Flash CS5 Publish Settings for SWF Files - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Adobe Flash Creative Suite 5 SWF files are compressed movies used by the Flash Player for display on the web or directly on a user’s computer. When you choose to publish a SWF file, you have the opportunity to specify settings that determine version, security, and quality.

SWF settings are available on the Flash tab in the Publish Settings dialog box. (First make sure that you select the Flash [.swf] check box on the Formats tab.)


The following list takes a look at some of the settings you’ll work with and how each one affects the performance and quality of your Flash movie:

  • Player: This drop-down list controls which version of Flash Player your movie is created for. In most cases, you want to select the latest version, Flash Player 10, so that you can take advantage of the player’s latest features.

    In some cases, you may need to publish your movie to be compatible with a previous version of Flash Player; here, you can specify versions as far back as Flash Player 1. You can also publish your movies for Adobe AIR, as well as Flash Lite, a version of Flash player developed for mobile devices.

  • Script: What you choose in this drop-down list is completely dependent on which version of ActionScript (if any) you’re working with. Because each version contains differences in both features and structure (particularly between ActionScript 3.0 and previous versions), publish in the version you’ve used throughout your movie. If your movie doesn’t use any ActionScript, leave the default setting for the Flash Player version you choose.

  • JPEG Quality: Flash performs a certain amount of compression on bitmap graphics in your movie (such as imported photos) to reduce file size and increase performance. Use this slider to determine the amount of compression applied and, in turn, the resulting file size and quality of your movie. The higher the quality, the less compression applied and the larger the resulting file size.

  • Audio Stream and Audio Event: If your movie includes sound, you can set its quality in your final SWF file by clicking the Set button beside either Audio Streams or Audio Events. By default, sound is converted to 16 kbps, Mono and MP3 format, but you can change both compression and quality settings as needed.

    Like the JPEG quality settings, higher-quality settings for sound likely increases the overall file size of your movie.

  • SWF Settings area: In previous versions of Flash, hidden layers were published by default to your final movie. This behavior can be toggled off by selecting the Include Hidden Layers check box to ensure that layers that are turned off in your FLA file don’t show in the resulting SWF file.

    Because the Include Hidden Layers check box is selected by default, any layers that are turned off on the Timeline appear in your final movie. Be sure to deselect this option if you want to ensure that hidden content isn’t included.

    The Compress Movie check box, which is selected by default, compresses your SWF file to reduce the file size and, in turn, the download time. Leave this check box selected, especially if your file is ActionScript or text intensive.

  • Advanced area: The Flash authoring software can’t open or decompile SWF files for editing, but it can import them as frame-by-frame movies into a FLA document. This strategy opens the door for artwork and graphic resources to be extracted, perhaps against your will. Selecting the Protect from Import check box prevents SWF files from being imported into the Flash authoring environment.

    The Password text box below the check boxes becomes active when the Protect from Import check box is selected so that you can assign a password to allow only certain parties (a colleague or client, for example) to import the SWF file if they need to.