SWF: originally standing for "Small Web Format", later changed to "Shockwave Flash" by Macromedia, then again changed back to Small Web Format when the company chose to have the phrase "Shockwave" only refer to Director, pronounced swiff or "swoof" is a partially open repository for multimedia and especially for vector graphics, originated with FutureWave Software and has come under the control of Adobe. Intended to be small enough for publication on the web, SWF files can contain animations or applets of varying degrees of interactivity and function.
SWF currently functions as the dominant format for displaying "animated" vector graphics on the Web, far exceeding the use of the W3C open standard SVG, which has met with problems over competing implementations. It may also be used for programs, commonly games, using Actionscript.
Originally limited to presenting vector-based objects and images in a simple sequential manner, the format in its later versions allows audio (since Flash 3), video (since Flash 6) and many different possible forms of interaction with the end-user. Once created, SWF files can be played by the Adobe Flash Player, working either as a browser plugin or as a standalone player. SWF files can also be encapsulated with the player, creating a self-running SWF movie called a "projector".
Adobe makes available plugins to play SWF files in web browsers on many desktop operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOSX, and Linux on the x86 architecture. As of 2007 intensive development had taken place on Gnash, a free-software implementation of a SWF player. Another FOSS implementation is swfdec.
Based on an independent study conducted by Millward Brown, over 99% of Web users now have an SWF plugin installed, with around 90% having the latest version of the Flash Player.
Sony PlayStation Portable consoles can play limited SWF files in Sony's web browser, beginning with firmware version 2.71. Both the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PS3 consoles can run SWF files through their Internet browsers.