Each format discussed in this chapter has advantages and disadvantages depending on the requirements of your project. There is no single format appropriate for every situation. To determine which format is best for you, first identify your needs, then select the format that best suits those needs. There are huge differences in server requirements for broadcasting CD-quality music to a limited audience versus wide-scale broadcasting to a large audience with diverse bandwidth capacity. Similarly, the differences between authoring and delivering interactive content such as a game or product demo versus encoding and broadcasting a video file are completely different.
RealAudio, MP3, and Flash are familiar names, but a host of alternative formats, including Windows Media, RMF, and Liquid Audio might better suit your needs. Let’s take a look at the factors that will determine the most appropriate format for you.
Before you look at browser compatibility, cost, audio fidelity, and server performance, you will need to determine whether you need a format that supports interactive presentations or one that supports continuous playback of audio and video files. Several formats such as Flash, Shockwave, and Beatnik are designed for rich interactive media content such as games, educational material, product demos, and promotional pieces where instantaneous feedback via sound effects are essential.
In contrast, formats such as RealMedia, ...