• Price When Reviewed: £85 including VAT

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Regular Web users want to be entertained with exciting, fast-loading interactive content. As an interactive designer and developer, your job is to pack as much punch as you can and still keep the file sizes to a minimum. Enter Optimaze! – a vector-graphic compression solution targeted at Flash developers, wireless new-media developers, Web-animation studios, and 2D-animation production houses. The application claims to compress .SWF files by up to 60 per cent with little or no visible loss in image quality. For best results, users must adhere to certain rules, such as making sure all movieclips’ symbol instances are named beforehand. For most situations, graphics need considerable tweaking. Users can realistically expect a reduction in file size down to between 20 to 45 per cent. However, most users are still using 56K dial-up connections and if you’re developing vector content for Flash-enabled wireless devices, a compression reduction of up to 45 per cent is an exceptional proposition. At times, I found the compression modes quirky and inflexible, and wished I could at least use the text fields to manually type in the required level of compression. Also, the compression modes seem to work as if on auto-pilot. For instance, although the compression slider bar is dragged to 100 per cent or the maximum level, Optimaze! does not seem to compress further than 60 per cent. Although it’s a fairly simple Flash XML/ActionScript-built compression tool, Optimaze! comes packed with other neat features – far too many to fit in this short review. In conclusion, any tool that reduces the file size of your Flash projects is worth considering having in your toolbox.