Convert Flash to HTML5 with new Google tool

Google on Tuesday unveiled Swiffy, a free tool for developers to convert some Flash files (.SWFs) into HTML5 code. The upshot? It’s now easier than ever to get Flash content visible on platforms that don’t support Adobe’s Flash Player–like the iPhone and iPad.

Swiffy works by converting Flash content into HTML5, relying on advanced browser support for technologies like Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), coupled with CSS3 and JSON. For now, that means that Swiffy-converted files will work in modern WebKit browsers like Safari and Chrome–as well as Mobile Safari–but browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox, which rely on different rendering engines, may have trouble.

Google calls Tuesday’s release “an early version,” and the tool can’t yet convert heavily interactive Flash content (like advanced games). However, Swiffy apparently works very well with animations and advertisements, so iOS device owners can, um, look forward to seeing more of those soon. To Google’s credit, its small Swiffy gallery does include a couple of bare-bones games in addition to a pair of converted Flash advertisements.

Adobe has long bemoaned the lack of Flash support on Apple’s iOS devices. Last year, Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned some public thoughts on Flash, which he faulted for being closed, slow, and battery-draining. At that time, Jobs wrote “Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

This past March, Adobe heeded Jobs’s advice, releasing Wallaby, its own Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. Like Swiffy, Adobe’s converter relies on SVG and CSS3 to work its magic. When it released Wallaby, Adobe said the tool was focused on simple banner ads and other animations. Google’s stated goals for Swiffy are thus far a bit loftier, but only time will tell if Swiffy will sweep Wallaby under the rug.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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