HTML and CSS Reference
Technologies commonly used to add interactivity to Web pages include Flash, Java
niques. Each of these topics is explored more fully in other topics—each technology
could be the sole subject of an entire book or college course. As you read this chapter
and try the examples, concentrate on learning the features and capabilities of each
technology, rather than trying to master the details.
Web browsers are designed to display Web pages and GIF, JPG, and PNG images,
among others. When the media is not one of these types, the browser searches for a
plug-in or helper application configured to display the file type. If it cannot find a plug-
in or helper application on the visitor's computer, the Web browser offers the visitor the
option of saving the file to their computer. The visitor may have a program that can
open the file or the visitor will simply be unable to experience the media file. This can
be disappointing or frustrating to a Web page visitor. In order to provide your Web
page visitors with a good experience, use media files that are supported by the most
common helper applications and plug-ins (more on this later).
A helper application is a program that can handle a particular file type (such as .wav or
.mp3) to allow the user to open the special file. The helper application runs in a win-
dow separate from the browser. A newer and more common method is for the browser
to invoke a plug-in application. The plug-in can run directly in the browser window so
that the visitor can open media objects directly within the Web page.
The most commonly used plug-ins include the following:
● Adobe Flash Player ( http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer). The Flash Player
displays .swf format files. These can contain audio, video, and animation, along
● Adobe Shockwave Player ( http://www.adobe.com/products/shockwaveplayer). The
Shockwave Player displays high-performance multimedia created using the Adobe
● Adobe Reader ( http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html). Adobe
Reader is commonly used to exchange information stored in .pdf format, such as
printable brochures, documents, and white papers.
● Java Runtime Environment ( http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp). The
JRE is used to run applications and applets utilizing Java technology.
● RealPlayer ( http://real.com). The RealPlayer plug-in plays streaming audio, video,
animations, and multimedia presentations on the Web.
● Windows Media Player ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/
download). The Windows Media plug-in plays streaming audio, video, anima-
tions, and multimedia presentations on the Web.
● Apple QuickTime ( http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download). The Apple
QuickTime plug-in displays QuickTime animation, music, MIDI, audio, video,
and VR panoramas and objects directly within the Web page.
You may be surprised at the number of plug-ins that exist. Mozilla provides a list of
plug-ins and other browser extensions, or add-ons, used with its Firefox browser at