Google's Swiffy makes up for Flash's shortcomings

Google Labs' latest release is Swiffy, a Flash-to-HTML5 converter that eliminates the need for a plugin on some browsers.

The development tool, which enables SWF files to be converted to HTML5, only supports "Webkit-based browsers such as Safari (on desktop and mobile) and Chrome," according to According to a Google FAQ. The tool also supports vector graphics, image and timeline animations, and embedded fonts. However, the utility will not convert Flash video, and Google suggests that the transfer of Flash 5 features will have the best result.

This toolkit can be seen as one way to port Web apps that are not supported in Flash formats onto certain mobile devices, such as those using Apple's iOS operating systems. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs has been vocally against supporting Flash-based elements on iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. 

In a letter featured on Apple's Web site in April 2010, Jobs wrote that "Flash was created during the PC era -- for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open Web standards -- all areas where Flash falls short."

Jobs pointed to a lack of security in Adobe's Flash format as a driving factor in the company's decision not to support the Flash format.

In Google's FAQ, Adobe credits Google's Swiffy release as a way of expanding the reach of Flash. However, Swiffy is not the only Flash-to-HTML5 converter out there for developers. In March of this year, Adobe released a free test tool code-named "Wallaby" that performs the same function. Google's FAQ acknowledged the similarity between the two tools and discussed what made its tool different.

"Wallaby is an installable tool that converts .fla files, whereas Swiffy is a web-based tool that converts .swf files. Wallaby focuses on reusing parts of a Flash file in HTML, and thus produces code that can be edited by the developer, whereas Swiffy generates an efficient format that is not that easily editable."

Developers can give Swiffy a test by uploading sample SWF files here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the associate Web editor for 1105 Enterprise Computing Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, ADTmag.com and VirtualizationReview.com.

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