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Google's Swiffy makes Flash files HTML5 friendly

Google's cooked up a new tool in its labs that converts SWF files into HTML5 for use on devices that can't run Flash, including those made by Apple.

A new tool from Google Labs called Swiffy is taking aim at Flash files on the Web by converting them to HTML5 for use on devices without Flash capabilities.

Flash authors who come to Google with their SWF files can run it through the Swiffy converter, which splits it into a JSON file, then renders it with HTML, Scalable Vector Graphics, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). As a result of the process, Google says the converted files have rendering performance that's "quite good," with a file size that's "slightly larger" than the original.

Google's tool joins Wallaby, a similar effort from Adobe, which debuted earlier this year. It turns FLA-formatted files into HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. That tool was initially designed as a way for developers to develop and port ads for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and any other devices without Flash capabilities.

A side by side of an SWF file that's been converted with Swiffy.
A side by side of an SWF file that's been converted with Swiffy. CNET

In an FAQ about Swiffy, Google says Flash owner Adobe is "pleased to see the Flash platform extend to devices which don't support the Flash player," and that the two companies "look forward to close collaboration around efforts like these."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously penned a missive entitled "Thoughts on Flash" last year, noting that the company had no intentions of including the software as part of iOS. "Flash was created during the PC era--for PCs and mice," Jobs said in that letter. "New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind."

Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch later responded by pledging to make "the best tools in the world for HTML5." So far that's been releasing an HTML5 update to its Dreamweaver Web site creation tool, introducing CSS Regions to the WebKit browser engine project, and rolling out a tool called Edge that lets designers make animated Web page elements with standard Web technologies.

Google says it's still deciding whether or not to make Swiffy an open-source project. In the interim, it remains in the company's Labs.