Of these four demo technologies, Flash .swf file format leads the way. It has very good file compression capabilities - typically outperforming gif animations for still images by 5 to 1 or better while generally matching if not exceeding audi/ video compression. In addition, Flash has the broadest range of deployment options - being supported on most flavors of Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix and even handhelds, PDAs and mobile phones. And the availability of third party software to refine or add special touches to your Flash demo is unmatched. AutoDemo, Macromedia's Breeze, eHelp's RoboDemo, FlashScreen, and Qarbon' Viewlets are just a few of the demo software packages that are Flash based.
Given these impressive set of credentials, what advantage do the other demo technologies have ? Video leads in the very important category of recording fidelity. Typically video movie animations record at between 16-32 frames per second or faster with a high resolution audio signal. In contrast, all the other demo methods record at half that rate or lower and may not pick up the computer's audio signal directly but use software dubbing for mouse and keyboard clicks. The trade-off is that video demo files are larger because more frames are taken and video compression runs slightly behind other technologies. Also video files do not have the same reach as Flash for use on browsers or on different OS. Camtasia uses video as well as Flash file format.
PowerPoint/Activex combination has the advantage of familiarity to the millions of PowerPoint presenters and an excellent player available in Internet Explorer. The disadvantage of PowerPoint is poor compression (large demo file size)and poor cross platform compatibility. But there are 3rd party PowerPoint tools to embellish your demos. Macromedia Breeze is Flash-enabled PowerPoint Presentations. The proprietary technologies typically have very impressive file compression capabilities with good demo fidelity. But the trade-off is having download/install a plugin, narrower deployment options, and less 3rd party support software for advanced edits and effects.
Next: A look at some major demo software starting with AutoDemo
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