Flash and Shockwave demonstrate differences in the types of content that each technology displays, the level of content that developers can create with each and the intended uses of content for each. The two technologies also differ in load times, security and general cost.
The Flash player displays content generated using various versions of the Flash development software. Shockwave plays content generated using the more powerful Director software. Shockwave is intended for complex applications, such as interactive games, marketing or advertising simulations, and multi-user environments or applications. Shockwave is also more extensible than Flash.
Flash is better-suited for front-end uses than Shockwave. Flash technology is well-suited for developing user interfaces for Internet-based applications or online storefronts, along with other advertising or interface materials. Flash files, in their greater simplicity, have the advantage of shorter loading times than Shockwave files. Flash, in general, is installed on more computers than the Shockwave player plugin is, but Flash content is more difficult to secure. Compiled Shockwave content is much more secure than Flash content, the underlying code of which is often easily read.
Shockwave beats Flash in terms of versatility, flexibility and complexity. The Flash player cannot play Shockwave files, but Shockwave is capable of displaying Flash content. Flash creation software also costs less than Shockwave creation software.