Adobe Shockwave

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Adobe Shockwave Player
File:Adobe Shockwave Player logo.png
Developer(s) Adobe Systems
Stable release[1] / January 19, 2010; 128551458 ago
Operating system Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X (Universal)
Platform Web browsers
Type Multimedia Player / MIME type: application/x-director
Website Adobe Shockwave Player

Adobe Shockwave (formerly Macromedia Shockwave) is a multimedia player program, first developed by Macromedia, acquired by Adobe Systems in 2005. It allows Adobe Director applications to be published on the Internet and viewed in a web browser on any computer which has the Shockwave plug-in installed.



Shockwave movies are authored in the Adobe Director environment. While there is support for including Flash movies inside Shockwave files, authors often choose the Shockwave Director combination over Flash because it offers more features and more powerful tools. Features not replicated by Flash include a much faster rendering engine, including hardware-accelerated 3D, and support for various network protocols, including Internet Relay Chat. Furthermore, Shockwave's functionality can be extended with so-called "Xtras".

Platform support

Unlike Flash, the Shockwave browser plugin is not available for Linux or Solaris despite intense lobbying efforts. However, the Shockwave Player can be installed on Linux with CrossOver or by running a Windows version of a supported browser in Wine (with varying degrees of success).

Shockwave was available as a plug-in for both Mac OS and Windows for most of its history. However, there was a notable break in support for the Macintosh between January 2006 (when Apple Inc. released Apple Intel transition based on the Intel Core Duo) and March 2008 (when Adobe Systems released Shockwave 11, the first version to run natively on Intel Macs).


Although Shockwave was designed for making a wide variety of online movies and animations, its actual use has become concentrated in the area of game development. It is often used in online applications which require a very rich graphical environment. Online Learning tools which simulate real-world physics or involve significant graphing, charting, or calculation sometimes use Shockwave.


The Shockwave player was originally developed for the Netscape browser by Macromedia Director team members John Newlin, Sarah Allen, and Harry Chesley, influenced by a previous plug-in that Macromedia had created for Microsoft's Blackbird. Version 1.0 of Shockwave was released independent of Director 4 and its development schedule has since coincided with the release of Director since version 5. Its versioning also has since been tied to Director's and thus there were no Shockwave 2-4 releases.

Shockwave 1

The Shockwave plug-in for Netscape Navigator 2.0 was released in 1995, along with the standalone Afterburner utility to compress Director files for Shockwave playback. The first large-scale multimedia site to use Shockwave was Intel's 25th Anniversary of the Microprocessor

Shockwave 5

Afterburner is integrated into the Director 5.0 authoring tool as an Xtra.

Shockwave 6

Added support for Shockwave Audio (swa) which consisted of the emerging MP3 file format with some additional headers.

Shockwave 7

Added support for linked media including images and casts Added support for Shockwave Multiuser Server

Shockwave 8.5

Added support for Intel's 3D technologies including rendering.

Shockwave 10

Last version to support Mac OS X 10.3 and lower, and Mac OS 9

Shockwave 11

Added support for Intel-based Macs.

Branding and name confusion

In an attempt to raise its brand profile all Macromedia players prefixed Shockwave to their names in the late 1990s. Although this campaign was very successful and helped establish Shockwave Flash as a dominant multimedia plugin, Shockwave and Flash became more difficult to maintain as separate products. In 2005, Macromedia marketed three distinct browser player plugins under the brand names Macromedia Authorware, Macromedia Shockwave and Macromedia Flash.

Macromedia also released a web browser plug-in for viewing Macromedia FreeHand files online. It was branded Macromedia Shockwave for FreeHand and displayed specially compressed .fhc Freehand files. [2]

Later, with the acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe Systems slowly began to rebrand all products related to Shockwave.

Market penetration

According to Adobe Systems, Shockwave Player is available on 56 % of Internet-enabled PCs.[3] It uses .DCR files created using the authoring tool Adobe Director.

External links


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