Macromedia this week announced that it was making its "Flash" file format (.swf) available as an open Internet standard for vector graphics and animation. This will provide a more attractive environment to Web content publishers, so that animation can become a standard element in Web site design. The announcement to standardize Flash received widespread support from Microsoft, RealNetworks, @Home, Associated Press, WebTV, IBM, and other industry leaders.

"Web designers and publishers have to compete for consumer attention and loyalty--making the visual appeal and usability of their web sites more important than ever," said Rob Burgess, president and CEO of Macromedia. "Flash delivers rich interactivity even in today's low-bandwidth environments. The decision to make Flash available as an open standard is another major step in Macromedia's mission to add life to the web."

As the first step in its efforts, Macromedia has published the open Flash file format (.swf) and sample code to the Flash Web site. Macromedia will also license the Flash player source code to Internet platform vendors