Adobe demos Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool

Where there’s pain, there’s opportunity.
Pre-Adobe, I made my living building rich, Flash-intensive sites for Gucci, Coca-Cola, Nike, and other big brands. Doing that job today, I’d be in a jam: How could I create rich experiences that run on desktops (where Flash is the obvious, consistent (cross-browser/-platform) choice) and on iOS devices where Flash isn’t allowed? I’d have to create two versions of a everything–one Flash, and one HTML5*. Good luck getting clients to double their budgets, though, and yet they don’t want richness cut in half.
So, the opportunity: Cut the cost of targeting multiple runtimes & we’ll deliver real wins: more richness for clients, and a competitive advantage for customers.
Check out what engineer Rik Cabanier showed (just a tech demo, no promises, etc.) during MAX sneak peeks Tuesday night:


[You can skip the last minute–unless you happen to want to glimpse William Shatner watching the demo.]

Are you surprised? Don’t be. As I’ve written many times, Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems. That means putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.
Flash is great for a lot of things, and this week’s demos showed it’s only improving. It’s not the only game in town, however, and Adobe makes its money selling tools, not giving away players. Let’s help people target whatever media** they need, as efficiently as possible.

* Someone will probably start quibbling with the use of “HTML5” as a stand-in for SVG, CSS3, Canvas, etc. I know, I know. I use the umbrella term in the loose, commonly understood sense: “Flash stuff without Flash.”
** Historical fun fact: Flash Professional used to export Java, as that was the relevant runtime of the day. Tools evolve to meet viewer demands.
Final footnote/disclaimer: I don’t work in the Flash group, so all this just represents my take on what’s possible. Your feedback is of course most welcome.

103 thoughts on “Adobe demos Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool

  1. This – like the fancy HTML 5 export functionality – is really great. I hope it gets fine tuned to an easy-to-use reliable Save As or Export option that we all can take advantage of soon. I work in Flash often and I’m a little skeptical that a lot of the advanced ActionScript stuff could be made to easily export but most of the bread-and-butter everyday web animation work could be readily converted. I’d much prefer to work in Flash’s authoring environment than futzing around with a text editor. Now wouldn’t it be nice to build CSS styles in InDesign? 🙂 Thanks for keeping me in touch. I just upgraded to CS5 and love what you all have done with the software. The installer was a little wonky but now that I’m up and working, I have no complaints!

  2. “where Flash is the obvious, consistent (cross-browser/-platform) choice” I don’t think so. How many sites on the web are 100% flash dependant?
    [I didn’t mean that a lot of sites are or should be built entirely using SWFs. Rather, I meant that if you want to build visual and audio richness that essentially everyone (98+%) of everyone using a desktop machine can see, Flash is obviously the way to go. (Yes, HTML is improving (as it absolutely should), but support for new features remains highly fragmented. That makes cross-browser/-platform testing and debugging slow and expensive compared to deploying SWFs that work consistently across machines. –J.]

      1. Not a lesson, but my point is that anyone can build cross-anything “visual and audio richness” with JQuery and X/HTML today and even include some flash to the mix…

        1. I think you should probably compare the coke site you showed, with the happiness factory site:

          As they have different purposes, they have to use different tools. Just because a website has a couple of videos and image galleries doesnt mean that flash isnt needed anymore

  3. I think this could be a HUGE hit, especially in the iOS market. With Apple having such a huge chunk of the mobile browsing pie, maybe this can help mend the PR rift between Apple and Adobe. Will it be a standalone tool, or released as an extension to Flash?

  4. >”Tools evolve to meet viewer demands” —
    “Tools evolve to meet whatever backroom deals Steve Jobs cuts for cash and then pretends are his vision for the future of the industry”
    Fixed it for you.

    1. Weak sauce
      [Your thoughtful, literate comment, you mean? So recursive. Sorry, I thought you were addressing me, not the previous commenter. –J.]

    2. er, jobs posted his very specific letter about flash & iOS publicly on it was sensible (you read it, right?) how is that “back room” dealing?

      1. HTML 5 video playback on the Mac and iOS devices by “Quicktime.” You can put two and two together to figure out why Apple is so pro HTML 5. I’ll give you a hint, it has NOTHING to do with open standards and only Apple’s pockets. 🙂

        1. Chris… I love a conspiracy theory as much as the next person. But, seriously, tell me more about the business model of Apple making money from Quicktime. The money is made on the content creation tools, not the “viewer” applications. HTML5 allows for each browser to implement the video playback feature however they choose. IE 9 will use WMP, etc. In each case, it will be handled more efficiently than Flash. More importantly, the onus is on the browser make to implement it efficiently rather than relying on a third party to optimize as they see fit.

          1. looking for a way to write in AS3ish js and compile to minified js script. would be interesting. imagine a world where js came as far down the road as actionscript.
            one can dream, com style libraries, type checking, code hints… sigh.
            adobe, i’m being forced to do alot of js work these days, but i just want you guys to know I’m still a huge fan. flex builder rocks, i can’t wait to upgrade.

          2. But with your comment I hope everyone understands why Flash ROCKS and why HTML5 is really not as great as everyone thinks it is(at least at the moment)… If you leave it “up to the Apple/Microsoft/Google-browsers to implement video” then we’ll be in the same issues we had in 1998 which was why Flash was invented in the first place… Flash gave the user ( 1 ) omni potent-Plugin to do everything audio/video/animation/vector graphics/javascript like scripting. It’s funny because it’s almost like we are devolving from programmers/developers who once understood how to program to strategists who use online web tools built by brilliant people in India. There was a time when developers understood the concept of “MAJORITY” vs “MINORITY” when building projects…. if I have a project and my target audience is 5 people who have iPads mixed into and 200 people who have Laptops that play Flash and everything else under the sun… why would I wrap a business model for my client around the 5 people who have iPads and not the 200 people? and that right there is what this whole fight is about… Trendy people who know nothing about building things or socketing to larger infrastructures are walking around trying to make a buck so they sell sheep/clients “iPads” because of the sex factor. Then 6 months down they road, realize they’ve completely screwed the client into a life having to disjointed app built in C++/Coacoa(how many people do you know write C++ ?) and HTML 5… When did Flash, become something that didn’t ROCK? IT HAS ALWAYS ROCKED, AND STILL DOES.
            lol, ok my Rant is done. (wink)

      1. Back room deals? If Job allwoed Flash then half the apps he wants you to buy thru the app store would cease to exist. Apps can be made in flash and downloaded freely without having to use Itunes. One can create games and interactive devices in flash and thus cutting out the middle man (that being apple and Itunes) if you allow flash on your ipad and itouch and iphone there is very litttle need to purchase games etc when you can play them or download them online..thats the deal.

    3. Ouch,
      Jobs snaps his fingers and Flash as a technology catches cancer. I bet Adobe rues the day it pissed Jobs off.
      [Morons like you are why guys like Gruber don’t allow comments. –J.]

    1. I know it was working with Flash 3/4. I personally used it for a couple sites (can’t remember why but I assume client demand). It was slow and painful (like Java was, and to a point still is on the web), but it definitely worked. Though I will say if my memory serves me correct it didn’t compile to java, it was an SWF viewer in java.

    2. In early Flash days it used to run in a Java-based Player, in addition to native code engines for Windows, Macintosh, Unix. Here’s (which is having timeout problems for me right now):*/
      This Java Player started being deprecated towards Flash 3, when playing .MP3s and using alpha transparency became possible in native code, but very slow in Java.
      The Oct97 link John cited was a second Java initiative, called “Fireworks”… Director and Flash would export Java libraries for a piece, which could play directly in a Java VM. I remember seeing builds of this and playing with it, but I don’t recall it going far in public use.
      (Trivia: After the Java “Fireworks” project came the Monkeyboy “Fireworks”, the graphics tool we know today. But before both “Fireworks” was the post-rendering compositing module in MacroMind 3D. Third time’s the charm, I guess…. 😉

      1. Correction to my correction!
        The 1997 “Fireworks” project was actually an addition of Director-ish abilities to Java, making Java draw better/faster somehow. The planned distribution with a browser vendor did not come through.
        I confused it with a later Export-to-Java feature in Director.
        Just goes to show that there’s a long history of cross-compiling, even though tuning authoring tool to runtime engine usually produces more direct results.
        [Thanks for the history, JD. For what it’s worth, LiveMotion export SWF as well as HTML. We also had an SVG export path that we didn’t turn on because SVG runtimes (including Adobe’s) weren’t then competitive with Flash Player performance. –J.]

  5. John, if I wish to create an FLA movie that I can insert into an Acrobat document, it would be universally readable except on Apple mobile devices. Do you know whether Acrobat accepts a universally accessible movie format, or whether anything else now exists to convert what Acrobat would accept into what an iPad or iPod touch would accept, or do we need to wait for this interesting (but with limitations) HTML 5 translator to become available?

    1. fwiw, Adobe Reader is verboten on Apple’s recent devices too. PDFs can be read there, but through an Apple rendering engine. I don’t know what formats, if any, Apple’s PDF renderer supports for video, sorry.
      (Our goal is to make it easy for you to bring content wherever you want. Over time, this will succeed.)

      1. Actually, I’m fairly certain Adobe licensed their Reader engine to Apple, and that’s what’s built in to OS X.
        [I don’t believe so. NeXT may have licensed PostScript for display years ago, but that’s ancient history. –J.]

  6. It was so great to see this demo and other great things from MAX this week. As much as Adobe been beat up by various companies and outspoken CEOs, it looks like you are rewarded for putting your head down and rolling your sleeves up and putting some great work together. This little Flash HTML5 export demo just silenced anyone who thinks Adobe is all about Flash in spite of other tech and cemented Flash CS5/CS6/CS7 as the rich media and web animation tool to know for the next decade. It is crazy to look at the fragmentation (browsers, OSs, devices) and not consider Flash as the go-to tool, especially knowing HTML 5 export is on its way.
    Looking at other things I see as a big deal from MAX: Google TV Flash integration, Blackberry’s Playbook integration of AIR and Conde Nast’s use of Adobe’s publishing tools are all rewards for a job well done. Makes me really happy to be a Flash guy. Cheers!

  7. Superb, superb, superb. With EDGE and this technology Adobe are ensuring I’m going to be able to carry on using my wonderful Adobe work flows for many years to come. Thank you.

  8. What does the speaker say here:
    “for instance, on your iPads, since it’s all (soverty)-based?” What is the word I can’t make out? That is the most interesting part to me…
    [I believe he said “WebKit.” –J.]

  9. 1. I almost fell over reading this reply:
    [In any case, the point isn’t that Flash is appropriate for every use; just the opposite, in fact. –J.]
    2. I hate disliking Adobe. But like i hate disliking California, its not because I changed… its because Adobe (like California) changed.
    Adobe in the 90s = maker of super great tools for making content.
    Adobe in the late 2000s from a Mac users point of view = their installers are crappy and malfunction (at best), Flash plugin makes my head hurt, and they beat on Apple (at the Intel switch keynote) to move to intel, and when they did, it still took them 2 years for the first app to make a single app on Intel.
    [You’re misinformed. I never heard anyone from Adobe speak ill of the Intel transition, and I had the Photoshop team move heaven and earth to get you an Intel-native beta of CS3 as early as possible (six months sooner than planned). But part of being a hardcore Mac user has always been feeling like a victim; really helps with the group identity. (I know; I dwelled in that cave for a long time.) –J.]
    My greatest hope: Adobe in the 2010’s = maker of super great tools for making content
    This looks like a step in the right direction and relly want to be excited to buy a CS… because i haven’t since CS1.

    1. “Adobe in the late 2000s from a Mac users point of view = their installers are crappy and malfunction (at best), Flash plugin makes my head hurt, and they beat on Apple (at the Intel switch keynote) to move to intel, and when they did, it still took them 2 years for the first app to make a single app on Intel.”
      “But part of being a hardcore Mac user has always been feeling like a victim; really helps with the group identity. (I know; I dwelled in that cave for a long time.)”
      You’re right. Adobe installers are as good as anything else out there and flash plugin has been just as efficient on the mac as windows for as long as I remember. We’re just looking for an excuse to feel like second-class citizens.
      [“Just because they’re after you/Don’t mean you’re not paranoid…” –J.]

      1. “Just because they’re after you/Don’t mean you’re not paranoid…”
        Who said anything about paranoia?
        [I thought that playing on some well known song lyrics would be clear enough, but let me spell out my meaning: Just because there are plenty of legitimate gripes one can have about Adobe, doesn’t mean that the Mac community doesn’t attract a lot of shrill, let’s-always-bitch types.
        The Mac is a great way for 40-year-old white guys to feel like victims. (“Hmm, what can I get all butt-hurt about… I’m not gay, not a woman, not a religious or ethnic minority… AH, I’ve GOT it! I can be a Mac fan, aligning myself with the forces of truth and tastefulness! I’ll be part of something bigger than just me, something finer than this dirty old world of people who Just Don’t Get It. The lower the market share, the more fiendish the depredations of Microsoft [or bogeyman du jour], the more special and put-upon I can feel!”) Don’t tell me you don’t know what I mean. I’ve been using Macs since 1984, and I got way, way too into drinking that Kool-Aid. –J.]

    2. I feel like I just read this comment on Ars Technica. In both places it is irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is the fact that Adobe has produced early-stage prototypes of tools that target HTML5 technologies rather than its proprietary Flash player. This is Adobe embracing multiple delivery platforms for multimedia and interactivity. This is a good thing.
      This, really, isn’t the place to whine about CS installers and whatnot.

  10. Ok, this and EDGE are good.
    I’m not a fan of the Flash IDE, but I’m even less of a fan of the opaque SWF black boxes that it produces (and which demand availability of proprietary tools if you need to make an amend).
    If Flash is to succeed as a development environment, then it should do so on the basis of providing a useful, flexible, intuitive toolset for working in open standards, not on the hegemony of proprietary file formats.
    These look like big steps in the right direction.

  11. Now I know this is all experimental goodness, but this is a hugely HUGELY exciting little piece of software. Since Adobe has been in this habit lately of offering HTML5 extension packs for Adobe products (first Dreamweaver, then Illustrator) might this be next in line? Oh how things would be a-changing’ if so! I really don’t want to have to wait for CS6!!!

  12. I watch from two to five Hulu shows a week and about once a week Flash crashes/freezes on me. I use OS X 10.6.latest Snow Leopard/Flash(latest) and rotate between Safari/Firefox/Chrome (all latest). Flash is simply no joy on OS X.

    1. Speak for your self. I’ve been developing all of my Flash content on the Mac since version 2 and have been a pro Mac user for 15 years now. I watch Hulu, CBS’s shows, and so on on my MacBook Pro 17″ with Snow Leopard via Chrome and it doesn’t crash. Check your memory to make it’s OK or if you’re using Safari, try another browser. 🙂

  13. How’s Lee feeling now? Any more tirades?
    [Beats me. Lee was responding (with an unhelpful degree of anger) to Apple kicking the legs out from under Adobe customers (all the people who were actively developing apps using Flash-to-iOS compilation & all those who were just about to start). That has nothing to do with saying that we want to help people target multiple platforms. (It’s kind of amazing that we have to keep proving the latter point, given Adobe & Macromedia’s HTML authoring history.) –J.]

  14. Excellent development by Adobe. Like Don said, Adobe used to be a home of excellent technologies, and a place where all the enviornments they served were treated like first class customers. Somewhere in the last decade, they lost their way, and the company of Warnock and Geschke started to diss their Mac customers, long after Apple’s near-death experience. The decade -old Flash core on MacOS became a source of pain and suffering, and Adobe’s upper management seemed to say “suck it!” No surprise that El Jobso is giving you guys a (much deserved) beat down. I am happy to see that those who smack the code in Adobe are licking their wounds and moving forward (unlike the Sr. Management, who continue to shake their tiny fists).

  15. hurray! this is good news. i had to uninstall flash on my gf’s macbook because it kept crashing both Firefox and Safari anytime it hit a page w/ flash content. just getting TO the uninstaller w/o hitting a flash page too quite some time! finally found a direct link tho.
    glad to see Adobe moving w/ the industry.

  16. This should obviously be a part of Flash. You should be able to Publish to HTML5 as easily as SWF. That is about the only thing that would give me a reason to upgrade my Flash CS3 in the future. The only demand I have for Flash right now is to convert it to HTML5.

  17. “That means putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.”
    I appreciate what you’re saying here, but you have it backwards. Using Flash, actually, is what’s pragmatic right now. It does the job, clients want it, it works, the tools are here. The IDEOLOGY, as purported by Adobe in recent and numerous press releases, is for “open” systems. Right? Isn’t that what Adobe’s been promoting – openness? Well, Flash ain’t open. HTML5 is.
    In other words, John, what this tool would actually do is put ‘Open Web’ ideology ahead of ‘Let’s Sell What We’ve Got’ pragmatism.
    Good luck with this, it certainly would be a step in the right direction.

    1. “clients want it”
      Clients don’t want Flash, clients want a “Rich” (whatever that really means) experience on their website. If all they know that does that is Flash, then they will ask for Flash. What clients also want is for their experience to be available to people on all the platforms, and work well.
      [Absolutely agreed. –J.]
      It’s not just Jobs that is causing Flash problems, I have Flash on my Droid incredible, but that doesn’t mean Flash-based sites work on it, or even run sometimes.
      Whose ideology do you blame for that?
      If the client doesn’t want to be on smartphones, then fine, but I don’t think the tide is moving in that direction.

      1. Yes, clients want the things that Flash provides. I know full well that clients don’t “want” Photoshop or file servers or ‘the creative process’ or account managers or any of the things that deliver the desired result. They just want the result.
        It’s a fact of life so blatantly obvious I thought it not worth spelling out.

      2. “ It’s not just Jobs that is causing Flash problems… Flash on my Droid incredible… [doesn’t] even run sometimes.”
        My system status currently shows 120MB real RAM assigned to the Flash plugin, although I believe I’ve closed all the windows that had Flash content. I regularly see this amount increase after opening, playing and closing pages with Flash. This apparent lack of memory management — plus who-knows-what bad behavior if bad connectivity prematurely truncates a video — easily explains why some users have frequent problems with well-written Flash, while developers, likely with 8GB or more RAM, never see an issue.
        And nobody seems to connect the oh-so-obvious dots between even a bug-free (!) Flash and limited RAM. I’m not aware of a single smartphone Flash that works on a device with less than 1GB of RAM. That includes especially the early iPhones (128MB), BlackBerrys (64MB and up), and even virtually all pre-2010 Androids. The iPads for sale today have 256MB. If you set aside 75-150MB for a plugin, where are the OS and browser and javascript and any background processes supposed to fit?
        So yeah, everybody says “iPhone” when they mean “touchscreen smartphone” but the issue is straightforward: any website that wants to reach mobile customers needs another strategy besides Flash. I can’t see Flash on today’s generation of smartphones, even if Steve Jobs publicly got down on his knees every month and begged Adobe to either (a) supply a Flash player that worked in WebKit or (b) release the full Flash spec to the public domain so that third parties such as Apple could implement it.
        Tell your clients to suspend doing business for 2 years until smartphones are powerful enough. Or to provide workarounds for the most egregious misuses of Flash that prevent mobile users from seeing (especially high-end restaurants’) home page menus.

  18. > “and on iOS devices where Flash isn’t allowed”
    And Blackberry 6 Devices where it isn’t ready. And all Android Devices (pre 2.2 Froyo, e.g. all Sony Ericsson Android phones) where it will never be ready. And Web OS devices where it isn’t ready. And Windows Phone 7 devices where it isn’t ready.
    The point is there’s quite a few mobile web devices outside of iOS which don’t do Flash either.

    1. The mobile hardware capable of running Flash wasn’t really available until this year and now there are several handsets on the market all of which can do so.
      Froyo 2.2 just came out not even a couple of months ago and now it’s already on 33% of of current devices. Come spring time it will most likely be the dominent Android OS. Gingerbread is supposed to be available before years end.
      Anyways, thing change quickly now days. Last year I would have NEVER believed that Android would have exploded in market share, but now it has a larger share than Apple and Rim.

      1. That expanded market share does nothing for the 95%+ of mobile users who don’t have Froyo.
        In a couple of years, smartphones and tablets will have the 1GHz CPU and 1GB RAM that seem to be the minimum entry for Flash. Today, you’re just blowing smoke: as a previous poster notes, Adobe just has NOT managed to squeeze Flash onto WebOS, Symbian, WinPhone6/6.5/7, BlackBerry, iOS, pre-Froyo Android (the vast majority of Androids on the street today), or any of the other smartphone OS’s.
        Instead, we have a string of busted promises such as a billion smartphones running Flash by 2009. Simple fact: to reach more than a tiny minority of smartphones, you can’t rely on Flash. Want to reach users at their desktops? Fine. Mobile? Fuhgeddaboudit.

  19. I’m pretty sure I’m beating a dead horse here, but what strikes me about your statement, John, is that there’s some kind of ‘ideology’ that can be applied to Flash. Perhaps that’s a function of not being able to step back for a little perspective – Flash IS Adobe’s product (and an important one to the company and to web developers) after all.
    But Flash is not an ideology, it’s a crutch. It was and is a way to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’ in terms of what is possible on the web. Flash has enabled and continues to enable many things which people want on the web.
    Before Flash, there was no other way to do these things. Now, other means exist. The crutch could be thrown away, except of course for the fact that crutches are rarely thrown away. Rather, they are weaned away. And that, I think, is what this proposed tool of yours aims to do.
    [The aim isn’t to get people to stop using Flash. The aim is to make the use of Flash & HTML5 more cost effective. –J.]
    If the use of Flash involves some ideology, I sure want to know the rationale behind it. I don’t think there was much ideology behind floppy drives and Zip discs either. They were, like Flash, merely the best tools available at the time. And now? Not so much.
    [As I’ve written, “Flash will innovate or die. I’m betting on innovation.” Either way, Adobe’s (and thus hopefully customers’) bases are covered. –J.]

    1. “[The aim isn’t to get people to stop using Flash. The aim is to make the use of Flash & HTML5 more cost effective. –J.]”
      Point taken. Of course, you’re not trying to put yourself out of business. You’re trying to stay IN business, in this case by offering a method to keep people from being forced (economically) into a non-Flash solution.
      “Flash will innovate or die. I’m betting on innovation.”
      I visited your link, where you say the same thing I said – Flash got us from ‘there’ to ‘here’. Absolutely so. (And how quick people forget.)
      Also agree with the fact that the problem with ‘Open Systems’ is that it’s ‘design by committee’, with all its tedium and horror.
      Nevertheless, at some point an open standard for ‘net video makes more sense than a closed one. This may be in the same way Tower Records and Zip Drives no longer make sense – and disappear. Or it may be in the same way FedEx and fax machines make a whole lot less sense than they once did – and fade into the background.
      If Flash (or something that enormously resembled it) were able one day to compile HTML5 code using today’s (or a similar) interface, that would be huge. It would be huge for developers who could salvage the time they spent learning the platform in the first place, and it would be huge for Adobe.
      Otherwise, someone else will develop such a tool. And along with it, I imagine, a tool for porting those old Flash files over. Remember when Quark was king of the hill and InDesign had no chance against it? Something like that will happen. (Hmm. I wonder if Steve Jobs has enough spare cash to seek out and back such an effort? Why, yes. I believe he just might.)
      Nice chatting with you.

  20. “Are you surprised? Don’t be. As I’ve written many times, Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems.”
    It comes as a surprise to anyone who’s tried to install an Adobe application in the past 10 years. What I read in a blog has relatively little impact, compared to being repeatedly unable to install software I just paid hundreds of dollars for.
    I still remember having to call Adobe tech support a few times (9 years ago!) to get the Illustrator 10 installer to run without crashing, and from what I’ve seen on friends’ computers and on the web since then, it hasn’t improved much.
    Most Mac apps don’t even *have* installers.
    [Except, y’know, the copy of iLife I installed this morning, plus all the Apple pro apps. None of that excuses the rank shittiness of the CS3 (and to some extent CS4) installers, but that’s behind us now. –J.]
    There’s a, you copy it wherever you want, you’re done. I utterly fail to see how making a completely custom installer, which looks and works nothing like even the standard installer, helps even a single customer solve a single real problem.
    [I don’t suppose you’ve read what the team responsible has written, explaining pros, cons, challenges, etc. –J.]

    1. Tim wrote: “I utterly fail to see how making a completely custom installer, which looks and works nothing like even the standard installer, helps even a single customer solve a single real problem.”
      Wasting disk space. Stand alone Mac apps work fine when they don’t share components. Adobe applications, like Microsoft Office, share a lot of functionality. You can either duplicate that in each app, wasting a lot of disk space and RAM, or you can put it where each of them can access it. Thus, the need for an installer.
      (You can do it without an installer, as Mac Office 98 did. It accomplished this by keeping a _copy_ of the system resources Office required in the office folder, and using that to install them to the system locations on first run. Not efficient, but it made it look “mac like”.)
      Admittedly, I wish Adobe would simply use each platform’s native installer — on Mac, and the standard Microsoft one on Windows.
      This is all besides the point. John, thanks for sharing the Flash-to-HTML5 demo. This is exactly the sort of thing I’ve been wanting to see from Adobe. That’s the kind of thing that earns my purchasing dollars.

    2. J: Yes, I have read that, and I’m not sure why you would think I haven’t. The first half is the generic boilerplate one typically sees from a big company with something they know they’re doing poorly (“it’s a difficult problem”!). The second half seems to end in denial, suggesting that they think a completely custom installer is necessary, the horrific flaws are acceptable, and they’re never going to change (to either the standard installer or drag-n-drop install).
      I wonder if there has been a survey asking “Have you ever wanted a new Adobe CS program and were willing to pay full price for it, but decided to pass simply to avoid the installer?” I would have answered “yes” many times. That’s thousands of dollars from just one person.
      That blog post is also somewhat in contrast to your claim that “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems”. Either the installers are bad because it’s a difficult problem, or it’s a complex problem that required a hugely complex solution and everything’s fine which explains Adobe’s continued survival.
      Are Photoshop users really so low on disk space and high on pain threshold that they prefer a super complex installer to just using another gigabyte in their Apps folder? I can’t wrap my head around the logic behind this. Does this “problem” Adobe is “solving” exist anywhere besides some PM’s imagination?

  21. This is a fantastic move by Adobe, along with the Edge prototyping tool. As you point out, Adobe lives and dies by producing tools for people to create great content with. Flash is a good platform, but Adobe should be distribution platform-agnostic as much as possible, and focus on creating best of breed tools. Well done!

  22. John, I agree with your comment: “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems.”
    That said, gaining agreement with Adobe *can* be like pulling teeth. Take the Adobe installer fiasco as an example – and I say this as someone who *genuinely* roots for Apple to get their house in order – enough pressure and the screw starts to turn. 🙂
    Great move by Adobe, this new Flash>HTML5 tool. I hope Adobe is now working on killing off Flash. Forever.
    [You’ll be sorely disappointed, then, to learn that Adobe has been making all kinds of improvements to Flash (e.g. making video playback much more efficient, adding great 3D chops, etc.). To the best of my knowledge, company has no intention of simply rolling over and leaving the world with just what existed before Flash became ubiquitous: a bunch of differing browser implementations & glacial standards processes. It’s all great to celebrate the latter until your app goes down the crapper largely because the rest of the world couldn’t get it together vis-à-vis standards support (cf. me, LiveMotion, and SVG). Key point: Flash Player will keep competing with HTML, and competition is good for everyone. Whichever one(s) you choose for a given project, Adobe will have authoring solutions to offer you. –J.]
    Don Montalvo

    1. Don Montalvo, if Flash were to die, then where would HTML6 find inspiration from new features from? 🙂 (I guess there’s still plenty of features in Flash Player 10.1 like peer-to-peer, better typography, but it would only go so far).
      Not to mention, as a user I enjoy watching tv shows online and don’t want to have to download a native app. Because if plugins went away and networks would never switch to HTML5 video without being able to protect the video stream with some sort of DRM solution.
      In the end you just need to follow the money. Adobe makes money making tools, both for HTML and Flash. Generally the better the tools, the more money they will make. Despite the gloomy news from tech blogs Adobe has been reporting growth with their Flash tools. As long as Adobe keeps making money from Flash tools, they will continue putting R&D resources into the Flash Player and leap frogging HTML once again as standards have a slow & long catch up.

    2. I hope Adobe is now working on killing off Flash. Forever.
      Adobe doesn’t want to kill their platform, and it is (potentially) a great platform for mobile app development — that’s precisely why its not allowed on iDevices, don’t kid yourself otherwise.
      AFAICT, this technology demo uses SVG (not canvas) and doesn’t support actionscript, audio, video or interactivity. Its artwork and animation only. That’s a hell of a long way short of supporting the full capabilities of the Flash Player in “HTML5”.
      IMO Adobe will continue to expand its support for “HTML5” in Flash, but it will also fall well short of what you can do in Flash. This is for both technical and strategic reasons.
      Technically canvas is little more than a library of 2D graphics primitives that doesn’t come close to the services provided by the Flash Player. Its also slow, buggy and inconsistent across platforms. You think Flash is buggy? Its a rock of stability compared to some of the HTML5 implementations out there.
      Strategically, its not in Adobe’s interests to make HTML5 export as good as SWF export anyway. The PR spin will mention all the technical reasons above, but the reality is, they won’t be trying as hard as they could.
      John, thanks for reviving memories of LiveMotion, Java export etc. Ahhh the good old days. I miss them.

  23. Hope this is brought to Captivate, it’s becoming a problem that the Flash banner on our school’s website can’t be seen on iPhones.

  24. I am going to continue to back Flex, html 5 is a nice novel idea, (minus the part where HTML survives 20 years on being dragged kicking screaming and totally unsuitable for RIA dev into the future).
    But lets face it html 5 is flash 2004mx desperate wannabe clone.
    As for the comments by Flash Sucks, Im guessing some frustrated WP user who never won an FWA wrote that and does not understand the nature of the exploit or the platform (if your not an expert in something you dont really have the right to comment). If your not a world class designer or developer and are not doing work for a fortune 500 your a hobyist, go back to school get some skills and then come back.
    And thats an acrobat exploit not a flash one. (Just saying, not that I would expect you to know the difference).

      1. Shame *pats head, dont worry little noob, there is a special set of tools for the handicapped called WordPress, for people like you, who are not qualified to do real web work. You should go play with it. It might be a constructive outlet for you. Who knows you might even learn something.
        (but dont worry I get it, you hate that we get all the real jobs, and you get all the low budget stuff. But heres the point little one, New Media is about the highest standards of code and UI. Its not about flash its about highly skilled development. Agile methodologies and real coders, not self taught amateurs, who hate any technology but what ever tech they use. Being a professional is partially about embracing and mastering many technologies.)
        So get back to us when you have a BSC, can handle full OOP languages, and have learned both flex and flash end to end. [funny story I never met someone competent in flash who hated it]
        Oh and when you realise that 99.8% of pcs run flash, and that flash is the backbone of almost all fortune 500’s maybe just maybe you might have the right to comment.
        Until then go get an education, try a BSC comp sci, and then some sort of qualification in New Media design.
        And finally I have never met a lazy high end new media developer, new media has the highest standards and the shortest deadlines, its manic and crazy and only the best survive.
        It’s not a place for small minded self taught gimps with a bad attitude. 😉

  25. As an after thought, I do think having this feature would be really great, and I fully agree that Adobe is a company that has a fantastic history of helping high end new media developers leverage the best of all web techs, weather its authoring regardless of which school they come from in php, python, asp, .net, etc etc etc. or CSS V HTML V Flash.
    What ever your weapon of choice, Adobe can rock your world.
    But if you hate flash (for those of you who know the difference between flash and acrobat reader) there is always silver light. Which has I have to admit come a very long way, even if its future is looking a little shacky along with wpf. (When di the IE9 team take over MS anyhow?? Silent ninja coup???)

  26. This is just what the doctor ordered (or at least an experimental, non-FDA-approved pill for what the doctor ordered)!
    When the whole “iOS won’t support Flash” brouhaha started, my very first thought was this:
    Designers don’t use Flash because the browser plugin is so awesome. They use it because 1) they like the powerful authoring environment and 2) it has a high degree of cross-platform compatibility.
    So the obvious (to me, anyway) future of Flash would be to move from a program that makes “Flash content” to a program called Flash that makes web content — whatever the format may be.
    Adobe is in a position to create the world’s first and best HTML5 animation authoring tool using an interface already in use by thousands of programmers and designers. Just imagine a future release of Flash that opens with “What kind of project do you want to create: Flash, HTML5, or Custom?” The appropriate features would be enabled or disabled depending on the user’s choice. As HTML5 matures, the two will approach parity, and the need for multiple presets may go away entirely.
    Anyway, this is a possible future for the Flash program, and I for one am excited by it.

  27. John… didn’t know how to contact you, so figured you are monitoring these comments…
    Great demo and discussion. I agree that Adobe solving real world workflow problems definitely makes sense. This demo and other announcements at MAX definitely are eye openers. I do want to ask folks here what you think about a Web authoring interface for building Flash and HTML5 ads without any programming.
    My company Sprout has a product called AdVine that might interest you and it has been in use the past three years since we launched it as Sprout Builder. Anyways, check out a video here showing how easy it is to build a Flash/HTML5 ad that runs in browsers and iPads.

  28. I can’t believe that no one has commented on the speaker’s mention of things that are unsupported, including, at 1:07 “or ActionScript.”
    Most of us who use Flash include interaction, not just animations.
    I know this is just a very, very preliminary proof of concept…but I would expect that porting over ActionScript would of course be the hardest challenge…and probably just about impossible. So, while this looks nice in a demo, I don’t see it really being very useful for most developers. Anyone else see it this way?

    1. Actually I mentioned the lack of actionscript and interactivity above.
      I agree with everything you say. Translating AS3 to JS is not that difficult because the languages are very similar. Its reproducing the classes and services built into the Flash Player that’s the biggest challenge.
      That said, I don’t think its impossible, but neither is it in Adobe’s interest to make it work terribly well. See my comment above.

  29. “Adobe lives or dies by its ability to help customers solve real problems.”
    Yes, this is the key point. But one nasty side-effect: UNTIL Adobe has a solution for mobile Rich Internet (which Flash, running on less than 5% of mobile devices, is NOT), Adobe is trying to KEEP its customers by blaming Jobs, by making bogus promises about a billion Flash smartphone installs by 2009, etc.
    It’s dishonest. Smartphones have been around for a decade and Adobe is only today showing tech previews, plus a real live capability on exactly one platform with a still-tiny market share. /rant.
    So what is it about Adobe’s customers? Developers and designers who know their business much better than I do, have watched utter non-delivery of mobile-compatible tools ever since it became obvious in 2007 that a new wave was upon us. (And, if they are long-termers, watched Adobe fire the Macromedia types a few years earlier, who’d built a viable mobile strategy for the then-marketplace.) Yet Adobe customers don’t push back, keep waiting for vaporware to manifest, as the world moves on without them. Does this mean that all they care about is their next assignment and don’t worry about trends that are sweeping over their business?

    1. “Adobe is trying to KEEP its customers by blaming Jobs”
      All too true. Adobe has issued some absolutely shameful press releases in this vein. In my mind, I separate the company built by the brilliant entrepreneur John Warnock (and Charles Geschke) from the corporation that exists today.

    2. Walt,
      Check out for rich media ads on mobile. Our web based authoring environment builds both Flash and HTML5 ads without having to program. Tightly integrated with both traditional rich media servers (e.g. doublelick) and mobile networks (e.g. Millennial/Admob). Sorry for the self promotion, but wanted to share with folks that there is a solution in place today. Definitely looking for feedback.

  30. How long before there is a JIT that will crosscompile a downloaded SWF and run it in HTML5? Or a website service that accomplishes that for a webphone/accessory? Something like OpenDNS, but for SWFs?
    I see a business model here. Cross/re-compile a SWF and cache the translated code and allow redirects to get the cross-compiled HTML5 from you.
    (And you get to advertise in them unless someone pays you $$$ for a subscription.)
    [You’re a smart coder, Chris; “be the change you want to see in the world.” 😉 (Seriously, I have no idea how doable/desirable such a thing would be. No one wants a Frankenstein monster.) –J.]

  31. Well you wouldn’t need a JIT would you, you’d need precisely the opposite. AS3 is compiled into bytecodes embedded in the SWF. Javascript is delivered as source code and then compiled on the client.
    So you’d need to decompile the AS3 bytecodes into some sensible source code (challenging), then reproduce the many services provided by the Flash Player that the script uses (challenging), and reproduce all the Flash Player’s rendering services in canvas or SVG.
    Alternatively you could build a Flash Player in Javascript (which has already been done; see Smokescreen and Gordon) but then you end up with a mammoth JS player that has to parse and decompress the SWF, implement all the FP’s rendering code in canvas or SVG, and then interpret the AS3 bytecodes. i.e. Big, heavy and mind-numbingly slow.
    None of this is easy, even for Adobe. The Flash Player provides the developer with a lot of services that simply aren’t there in canvas/SVG/Javascript.

  32. >That means putting pragmatism ahead of ideology.
    Pragmatism *is* an ideology — an ideology of putting short-term interests ahead of long-term thinking. So there’s no choice of “pragmatism vs ideology”, only the ideology of pragmatism vs. some other ideology.
    If you think ideology itself is incompatible with helping “customers solve real problems” then you probably just need a better ideology. There are many great companies that are ideologically driven and also solve real customer problems.

  33. Speaking of Flash to HTML5 conversion..
    We just launched a new service called
    We convert flash sites to HTML5 sites so they show up on
    iPad/iPhone/iTouch, be indexed fully by search engines
    and shareable on social networks…in just 72 hours.
    *Oh and its powered by WordPress!
    So you can easily manage all your content..anytime.
    I would love your feedback and/or suggestions,
    so just contact me directly :
    Artur |  Founder
    Design2Dev |
    phone : 646.797.3320
    skype : artur_design2dev

  34. I’m looking forward to a fully functional HTML 5 export from Flash. In 2-3 years (I reckon) when HTML 5 browsers have a greater market share than flash -i.e when IE7 & 8 die – then a HTML 5 export will be one of the main reasons developers will continue to use Flash CSX

  35. Why use ajax alone.. Flash-ajax seems to a great alternative to flash or ajax alone. I have recently fell in love with the idea of creating beautiful controls for ajax content. All you have to do is connect the AS3 with the external Interface. I am so over people dissing flash. Usually mac users trying to sound cool. Flash is so present in the web with games, lightroom galleries, and well so much more. I wonder if apple with ever release a qt4 RIA. Well who cares. Wishing they would stick to hardware. Their software is so cliquish. Adobe is an industry standard. Anyone who listens to apple’s steve jobs probably shouldn’t develop applications. 🙂 HTML5 will be excellent when they get done with xhtml5 and will use it when w3c decides to release it as a standard. Until then I use Xhtml1.1. Its so clean and hate using iframes. HTML5 users have to continuing ed bunch, because this spec is in draft. Hope you like to keep watching out for changes. I figure when the w3c is done with it. I will use this standard. No HTML4 or transitional doctypes for me, I updated my skillset. Dont want to skip ahead because of impatience or intollerance of xhtml1.1 strict markup. Love standards because its my job 🙂

  36. Hi.. So, at this time there is no way to a user to convert his old flash file to html5?
    I’m looking for intel on this.
    On my job we are considering to move from flsh to html. We had a severall stuff done with flash.
    I was looking for a tool that could convert to html5.
    thanks, in advance

  37. I don’t think this is a capitulation on behalf of Adobe. What they did is more likely going to hurt Flash than help it, but for them, it doesn’t matter, as long as they keep selling tools.
    By deploying HTML5 content that can fall back on Flash (for over 30% of users whose browsers don’t properly support HTML5), Adobe is legitimising Flash-less devices. As long as it is reasonably easy to re-code/re-compile Flash projects into HTML5, most major developers will do it, in order to gain iOS crowd on mcts. By delivering HTML5 content, they’ll allow desktop folks (including all future Macs that now ship without pre-installed Flash) to not bother installing Flash anymore.
    In this battle, Jobs was stubborn, while Adobe was not. They surely earned a few points for this move.

  38. I appreciate what you’re saying here, but you have it backwards. Using Flash, actually, is what’s pragmatic right now. It does the job, clients want it, it works, the tools are here. The IDEOLOGY, as purported by Adobe in recent and numerous press releases Fruit and Vegetable Books, is for “open” systems. Right? Isn’t that what Adobe’s been promoting – openness? Well, Flash ain’t open. HTML5 is.
    In other words, John, what this tool would actually do is put ‘Open Web’ ideology ahead of ‘Let’s Sell What We’ve Got’ pragmatism.
    Good luck with this, it certainly would be a step in the right direction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *