Converting Flash to HTML5

Google Swiffy produced in Google Labs converts Flash Files to HTML5 for mobile devices

HTML5 has only recently started to surface in web development, taking a whole new leap by integrating multimedia within development coding, eliminating the need for Flash installations on mobile platforms (more of this can be found here). But not all Flash content will disappear and neither will the development of Flash ads and banners, because Google Labs have created a system that converts Flash content into HTML5, making basic Flash files accessible on devices that don’t support Flash downloads such as mobile devices.

The first version of Swiffy has been injected into Googles’ entourage, raining happiness on Apples huge face. I’t started last year when Pieter Senster-an engineering intern- bagged a job with the mobile advertising team for his research into how to visualise flash animation on mobile devices. This swiftly brought together the Swiffy development team who have worked for the past year developing the system.

How does it work

Just feed the on-line system with an SWF file, wait a few moments, and Swiffy will give you a HTML5 rendition. The site only allows you to download the file within 15 minutes before the link expires, and implementing the code into this article proved to be more tricky than originally thought.  The good thing is you don’t need to start from scratch to build a whole new animation/banner in HTML5 in order for your file to work on devices that aren’t compatible with Adobe Flash, because Swiffy does all of that for you.  The bad news however is that HTML5 isn’t supported across all browsers, so it’s only those with Google Chrome and Safari who can truly benefit from the system. Although some elements of conversion are readable on Firefox, it didn’t work very well when I converted a small SWV file Flash animation banner in the browser.

This is where I went wrong in my first rendition when testing the system. I was using Firefox and when I uploaded Scotchegg’s flash banner and Swiffy’s digestion spat out a broken translation. But in Google Chrome, the finished product was exactly the same as the original Flash banner. Here is what Swiffy achieved when I put it to the test..

Original Flash version

Google Labs HTML5 Swiffy version

If you are viewing this page in Internet Explorer, Firefox, or any other browser that isn’t Safari or Google Chrome, Swiffy’s conversion will be broken, so try this page across the different browsers you have stored on your computer. The system is still under construction and, as this is a point brought up regularly when evaluating Swiffy’s compatibility, I’m sure the team will sort this out in due time. (Its quite frustrating that not all browsers are compliant, shouldn’t they all be?)

Here is the technical low down from Marcel Gordon,  the product manager for Swiffy who works at Google Labs posted on Tuesday 28th June that distinguishes the technical elements that brings the system together. “Swiffy uses a compact JSON representation of the animation, which is rendered using SVG and a bit of HTML5 and CSS3. ActionScript 2.0 is also present in the JSON object, and is interpreted in JavaScript in the browser. This representation makes the Swiffy animations almost as compact as the original SWF files.”

Don’t get too excited. The first instalment isn’t going to do your Flash site for you, or transfer large amounts of Flash files, because its been introduced to web and marketing developers at the beginning of its journey as a test. I hope the system evolves into a magical Flash site converter that will be compatible across all browsers, because this my friends, is a big aspect to the worlds transition into a digital sphere.