Home Proof of Concept Brings Flash to the iPhone

Proof of Concept Brings Flash to the iPhone

Developer Tobias Schneider has created an interesting proof-of-concept Flash runtime that allows Flash to work on the iPhone. The project, a JavaScript with SVG called “Gordon,” allows Flash files embedded in HTML to be viewed within the iPhone’s web browser Safari. Although this workaround to Apple’s restriction of Flash content on their ever-popular mobile device is a bit cumbersome and impractical for real-world use, it’s a geeky and fun project for developers who want to run Flash on the iPhone…just so they can say that they did so.

The Gordon project involves a JavaScript library which parses a SWF and renders SWF1 tags. “It’s in the spirit of the previous ‘SVG in SWF’ work from Helen Triolo, Claus Wahlers, Brad Neuberg and others,” writes Adobe’s John Dowdell on his personal blog. Gordon renders “one file format in a runtime designed for a different file format,” he says.

In layman’s terms, this workaround lets Safari display Flash content…some Flash content…on the iPhone. But the process of enabling it to work requires quite a few modifications to the original Flash file. And while the concept is intriguing, anyone who actually bothered to use this on a live website would probably get criticized by users for killing the iPhone’s user’s battery – the script is a major CPU hog.

For obvious reasons, Adobe can’t officially sanction the project as a way to sneak Flash onto the iPhone where it’s currently prevented from running per Apple’s restrictions. However, they said applaud the interest and enthusiasm shown by their developer community and that this demonstration “shows the potential of what users want to be able to experience on the iPhone.” Still, they warn that the Gordon project “represents just a limited subset of what the Flash Player can do,” mentioning specifically that without the necessary codec support, you would not be able to playback videos. For example, you would not be able to playback FLV videos encoded using the On2 VP6 codec. You also might not be able to play back F4V content either, unless the H.264 encoded video could somehow be extracted and then played back in QuickTime on the iPhone outside of the application or website.

Whether or not Apple plans to ever lets a proper version of Flash run on the iPhone is still unknown. At one time, we heard that Adobe was working on an iPhone-only version of Flash, but as of yet nothing has surfaced in that regard. Abode’s current solution to the problem is a new release of their Flash Professional CS5 software which lets developers export their files as iPhone apps.

In the meantime, Flash developers interested in checking out the Gordon technology can view the demos hosted here or the source code here on github.

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