Google's Swiffy Converts Flash SWF Files to HTML5

It's been quite a week for those of us following Adobe's juggling act of Flash and HTML5.

Back in March, Adobe released the experimental Wallaby tool, for converting artwork and animations contained in Adobe Flash Professional (FLA) files into HTML. Earlier this week it released a clip of an upcoming application called Edge (shown below), which lets users create standards-based animations, which is to say those based on HTML5. Promising, but not enough to set the world on fire.

Now Google has released a free online Flash SWF to HTML5 conversion tool dubbed Swiffy, after the "swiff" pronunciation of the SWF files it converts. While its capabilities will hopefully evolve in the future, currently it only supports a subset of SWF 8 and ActionScript 2.0 — in fact, you're advised to convert files in Flash 5 format! Will the resulting output work in all browsers? Nope, only those using Webkit, such as Chrome and Mobile Safari. So say goodbye to Internet Explorer users. So all this just to dumb down an old version of Flash to make content available to Flash-free Mac users.

One of the questions in the FAQ asks: "What does Adobe think of Swiffy?" We're told the answer is: "Adobe is pleased to see the Flash platform extended to devices which don't support the Flash player. The result is that anyone creating rich or interactive ads can continue to get all the authoring benefits of Flash Pro and have the flexibility to run the ad in the Flash Player or HTML depending on what's available on the system. Google and Adobe look forward to close collaboration around efforts like these."

Really? Adobe should run screaming in the other direction, faced with the limitations of Swiffy. In fact, the four example conversions in the Swiffy gallery are so pathetic, you might wonder what the point of the exercise was — the experience is like looking at the net circa 1999. But then, Adobe's own timid steps in the direction of HTML5 adoption don't really help provide a clear roadmap for the future of Flash. And given the intransigence of Apple and the technology's never-ending security issues, there must be some days when even Adobe has a hard time seeing the light at the end of the Flash tunnel. Critics of Flash say it has had a good run and that it's simply time to move on. But to what, exactly?