Adobe Wallaby looks to leap over Flash controversy

A new project from Adobe called Wallaby aims to sidestep developer concerns about getting their projects to run on iOS devices by converting Flash to HTML5.

Steve Jobs thinks that HTML5 is the future of media-rich content on the Web, and eventually he might be right. But Web designers and their clients are working with Flash now, so to address this schism between the two, Adobe Labs today unveiled a new free tool called Wallaby that will convert Flash into HTML5.

The Wallaby interface shown here post-conversion, with file and errors for filters and other features not supported in HTML5.

(Credit: Adobe)

Originally demonstrated at Adobe's MAX 2010 conference, the conversion process is currently workable but rough, said Adobe Flash Professional Senior Product Manager Tom Barclay. "HTML5 will be an important technology for banner ads and Web publishing," he said but cautioned that Flash is heavily used by developers, especially games that require complex interactivity.

As Wallaby works now, you select your FLA-formatted file and hit convert, and Wallaby changes the Flash file into HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. Most of your Flash file will get converted, Barclay said, including most drawing elements, fills, shape tweens, motion tweens, symbol names and instance names. Since it's built on Adobe's Air platform, both Windows and Mac based developers will be able to use it.

The built-in logging tool tells you which elements were not converted, and these currently including the audio and video tags. Barclay said Adobe Systems is looking for feedback from developers before it decides if it will add support for the more complicated aspects of HTML5 at a later date. "Developers can add interactivity after the conversion using JQuery and JavaScript," explained Barclay. The initial goal of the tool, he added, is to support banner ad development on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches since Apple has no plans to allow its iOS to support Flash, although he said that the HTML5 output will be appropriate for any WebKit-based mobile browser. (Android's default browser is also built on WebKit.)

With standards on HTML5 still in development, Adobe is positioning itself here with a leg up on easing the transition for developers who will inevitably have to use both technologies concurrently, at least for the foreseeable future.

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