When trying to decide which media file format to use within ToolBook the first thing you need to consider is how you are going to deliver your content.
If the content will be delivered as a Native ToolBook application, there is no major concern about which file format you choose - it is essentially up to you to choose a format best suited for your needs.
However if you are going to deliver your content as DHTML delivered on a Web Server, there are several things you need to be aware of before you make your file format choices.
Remember the good old days when everyone connected to the Internet using regular dial-up modems, and the painful experiences of having to wait while a web page loaded - and wishing that site builders would not create such graphically rich and heavy pages? Well, this experience has all but gone away as the business world and much of the consumer world has moved to broadband speeds using DSL, Cable Modem, T1 or Fiber connections to the Internet.
Unfortunately all this has really done is to encourage content builders to build even heavier pages, with more graphics and more video. Now even your broadband speed connection starts to strain to keep up with the loading of some web sites.
Beyond the issue of how fast your connection to the Internet is, you also have to keep in mind (as a content developer) how fast is the connection between the Web Server and the Internet. This is especially important when it comes to allowing many users to access content concurrently. If the web server runs out of bandwidth, everyone's connection slows, and the once speedy content becomes noticeably slower. Talk to your Web IT personnel about this issue before you start creating content.
If your content will be run on a company intranet the rules change a bit. If the intranet does not utilize the Internet to connect remote locations (such as field offices) then you can likely expect extremely fast connection to the web server. Talk to your Web IT personnel about this issue before you start creating content.
When we are talking about content which will be displayed in a browser, it is important to know what the browser can support. For example if you have an image file saved in .TIF format, your Windows computer may very well be able to open that file, but your browser will not.
The browsers on the market (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc) all support a standard set of image formats - and that is typically GIF, JPG and PNG. The reason for this is that these three formats are very tightly compressed file formats, and of course the smaller the file size the faster it can travel across the Internet and the less bandwidth it occupies.
If you use images within a ToolBook project, they will be converted to GIF, JPG or PNG during the Publish to Web (DHTML) process to ensure the images can be viewed within a browser.
The file sizes of video content and audio content can be extremely large and very quickly overwhelm a web server's bandwidth as well as the client machine's bandwidth. As such it is very important to keep your audio and video files as small (in file size) as possible. To do that you need to use a file format which specializes in very tight compression as well as being able to be played in a browser.
We are all familiar with the WAV and AVI formats, as they have been around for since the early days of Windows. However these formats were never designed for web delivery, thus are generally not suitable for web delivery. They tend to be very much larger in file size than more web-friendly formats. They also are generally not able to stream from the web server. Streaming is a term used to describe the ability to open and start playing a file before it has fully downloaded. Imagine if you had a 15 Meg video file and the user had to wait for it to fully download from the web before it starting playing. This could cause a considerable delay in the user being able to see the file. A streamable file would start playing as soon as it could, and the rest would continue to download in the background - behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, the Web Technologies within the browsers do not include built-in support for ANY video/audio formats. None. Because of this, plugins are required within any browser to provide support for the various video/audio players on the market, including Flash, Windows Media Player, QuickTime and Real Player.
Web Friendly Formats include, but are not limited to:
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