Flash is undoubtedly an incredible tool that helps in designing and delivering highly interactive eLearning courses. It allows the incorporation of complex animations, high-level graphics and interactivities that can support and enhance learning. But then adding all these may result in increased file size and so does the download time and the playback speed of the courses. Don’t you think your learners may lose interest on the courses, if it takes a lot of time to download?
So what do we do? Is there a way to reduce the file size of the flash-based elearning courses?
We can compress the SWF file while publishing it. In this blog, I would like to share some strategies that can help you with the optimization of the Flash file.
Areas where you can reduce the Flash file size:
Text and fonts: Avoid using different font styles wherever possible. Embedded fonts greatly add to the file size; so try not to use them. Instead, you can use device fonts as it puts in the fonts as ASCII codes and not as vector data. In case you have to use embedded fonts, then try to use the characters and not the full font.
Images: Usage of lower quality images can help in maintaining smaller file size. And we can shrink the image quality using the compression options available in Flash.
Go to –> choose Library –>Browse the image -a right click on the image –> and Select Properties. The Test button available there can be used to select and test results to land up with the desired settings. We can also resize the image using other editing tools and directly import them into Flash.
Audio: Just like the image quality, even the higher quality audio adds to the file size.; however, we can also compress the audio in the Flash file.
Go to –> choose Library –>Browse the audioà right click on the audio –> and Select Properties.
Under the properties window, set the audio compression to the lowest audio setting and test it. MP3 32 kbps stereo is a recommended setting.
Reusable Objects: Any component or asset that can be reused – For example, if a button is changed to a symbol, it can help in optimizing the file size. It will also reduce the effort of re-creating the objects several times.
Library: If you have many Flash files with similar Flash clips, then you can create a library. This library can be downloaded once in browser cache and can be reused by all the Flash files cutting down on the downloading time.
Vectors: To optimize vectors Go to –>use Modify to Smooth, Straighten and Optimize. Do again till you get the maximum result.
Publish settings: We can also adjust the settings globally for audio and images using the Publish settings of Flash.
Go To –> File –> Publish Settings –> Flash. Under Publish Settings you will see the Images and Sounds section asking for the global compression settings. Modifying the settings will affect all the Sounds and Images inside the Flash movie unless they are set from the library.
Some more tips to reduce the file size:
- Think of re-creating the images as vectors instead of bitmaps
- Ensure that the transparent areas are cropped before importing the images like .png, .jpeg, and .gif, etc.
- Check the Compress Movie option under Publish Settings.
- If you have heavier animations, then you can divide the Flash files into smaller parts and use.
Once you publish the Flash file, you can check Bandwidth Profiler (Ctrl+B) to identify which frames are heavy and take an action.
These were some areas or strategies that can help you in reducing the swf/flash file size and thereby reduce the download time. Do share if you have any comments on this subject.
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