Today Adobe is launching an experimental Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool called Wallaby. The tool takes content created with Adobe’s Flash Professional and converts it to HTML5, the latest revision of the Web markup language. HTML5 is supported in most Web browsers, but, most importantly, it’s supported on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, where Flash is banned.
You Can’t Escape Flash Ads
The animated ad banners and boxes that pepper much of the modern Web are, more often than not, created with Adobe Flash technology, a multimedia platform that allows developers to add video, animation and interactivity to webpages. The technology is used in everything from online video to games, and yes, those ever-present online ads.
With today’s launch of Wallaby, Adobe’s focus is on converting that last item – the ads – to HTML5, but not the more advanced content.
Adobe developers got a sneak peek at Wallaby at Adobe’s MAX 2010 conference last year, and there was a lot of interest from the community, says Adobe. Now, this new software is available for anyone to download.
Through a simple interface, you can drag and drop a Flash (.fla) file right into Wallaby’s interface, and the program automatically converts it to HTML5.
The new program is not meant to take away from Flash’s importance, however. Explains Senior Product Manager for Flash Professional Tom Barclay, both HTML5 and Flash “will be imperative for the long term to create really engaging content that will work across any device.”
Notice though, that Adobe isn’t talking about Wallaby on its blog today, but is instead describing how there are several opportunities for the Flash platform that aren’t fully enabled by standards and other formats currently available.
But at least those poor souls without access to these many advancements can at least see Flash ads, re-coded with HTML5, right?
Flash to HTML5: Beginning of the End?
That said, Adobe isn’t wrong when it claims that Web standards haven’t quite caught up to Flash capabilities. And the company still has a large developer of over 3 million who use Adobe’s tools. Plus, thanks to a partnership with Google, Flash is baked into the Google Chrome Web browser, and is supported on handsets built with Google’s Android mobile operating system. Flash, in other words, won’t be disappearing from the Web anytime soon.
Nor will it be disappearing from tablets, either. The Motorola Xoom, for example, will soon offer a downloadable version of the Flash software, a feature that is considered one of the tablet’s key differentiators from the Apple iPad.
But the launch of Wallaby, a tool that takes Adobe’s Flash files and converts them into Web standards, seems sort of like the beginning of the end for the dominance of the Flash on the modern Web. It’s an acknowledgement that when Apple, boldly, perhaps even somewhat arrogantly, banned Flash from its mobile devices, it mattered. Would such a tool like Wallaby exist had Apple not made that move? Maybe…maybe not.
In Technical Terms
As for Wallaby itself, the tool is an Adobe AIR application that works on both Mac and Windows computers. After you drag and drop (or browse for) a FLA-formatted file, Wallaby spits back output containing HTML, SVG, CSS and other files. This file is meant to be a starting point that can then be edited with other Web development software programs.
For the technically minded, Wallaby translates the following:
- Vector graphics to SVG
- Bitmaps to <img> elements and JPEG files
- Text to <p> elements or SVG text
- Flash timeline to a group of CSS animations
- ActionScript, Sound, Video and other assets are discarded.
Wallaby is available from Adobe Labs here.