Content can be exported to SWF ebooks and, in most cases, simply dragging the SWF ebook onto a browser screen is all that is needed to read the ebook.
SWF stands for “small web format.” There are a number of programs that export to this format, such as Flash and InDesign. This format allows a high level of design and functionality—including interactive quizzes, video tutorials, music, etc. It is essentially vector based animation, which allows designers to create very compact and fast files that include animation and interactive features such as rollovers, pop-up images or texts, and more.
A SWF ebook can contain many pages of vector graphics and be less than 1MB, whereas the same ebook using pixel images of the same graphics could be hundreds of megabites in size. As internet speeds improve, file size becomes less important. Also, css coding improvements and improved software is making it possible to create graphics without using Flash.
The SWF format has some user and distribution drawbacks. First, reading SWF ebooks requires the Flash plugin and the SWF layout is a fixed layout. Second, none of the major online retailers distibute ebooks in the SWF format. This cuts SWF out of the main book-buying marketplace. However, SWF works well for purposes such as institutional training courses.