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Graphics Programming

Flash-to-HTML5 Translator: Smart But Not Pretty 77

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister takes a first look at Wallaby, Adobe's experimental tool for transforming Flash content into HTML5, and finds the tool an interesting idea with little yet to offer. 'Wallaby engineers have made sound decisions in designing the tool, but what you actually get when you convert a Flash project to HTML5 is extremely limited,' McAllister writes, in large part because many Flash features are not supported, leaving developers to add their own interactivity with jQuery."
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Flash-to-HTML5 Translator: Smart But Not Pretty

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  • Oh boy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stratoukos ( 1446161 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @04:29PM (#35446876)

    Oh boy! An article from InfoWorld.

    Let me just click the print button and watch the karma pour in. []

    • by devxo ( 1963088 )
      Ugh, I find the original page much better to read. Print version has way too wide text to read on computer screen and is missing styles and paging.
      • Personally, I kind of expected to see something other than text.

        There were no code examples (just explanations of the code), no images for comparison, nothing but a wall of text.

        • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

          Unfortunately, the Flash files I used weren't created by me, so I couldn't publish screenshots for comparison for copyright reasons. As for code snippets, they tend to turn off more people than they pull in. In either case, though, what you'd see wouldn't be terribly enlightening. A screenshot from Firefox or IE would reveal... a big white square. A screenshot from Chrome would look a lot like the original Flash movie; what you wouldn't see is that the animations and controls aren't working right.

          As for cod

      • by dingen ( 958134 )

        I agree the web-version is better readable than the print-version, but in my view this mainly has to do with the line height being too small in the print version. There's almost more horizontal spacing than vertical spacing, which makes the article very tiring too read.

        If you think the lines are too long for comfort, you're simply setting your browser window too wide.

      • by Korin43 ( 881732 )

        You should try Readability. They have an addon now for some reason, but the old bookmark version is still there: []

        It makes any page readable (if it can figure out what the content is).

    • watch the karma pour in.

      You get karma in liquid form? I always seem to get the powder...

      I like the bit about how "many Flash features are not supported" in HTML5. Doesn't strike me as a self-serving adobe-planted thing, oh no, not at all.
      No. I said no, not a bit.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I like the bit where blatantly changed the quote to make it look like some self serving adobe planted thing, when in fact it never claims that many Flash features aren't supported in HTML5, only that they're not supported by the first release of Wallaby.

      • by Firehed ( 942385 )

        Well, in fairness, it's not Adobe's fault that you can't access connected devices (camera, mic, etc.) via HTML5. Yet [].

        • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

          If it was the only part of flash not supported we could live with it. I can actually live without flash. I actually do. But still...

    • I wish I could mod you -1 Funny.

  • Because that's all I want or care to know. Homestar is pretty much the only thing I need Flash for anymore. And yes I know that Smokescreen [] exists but this sounds much better.

    • Homestar is pretty much the only type of content that you really need flash for. For everything else, it should be completely avoided.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        What about redtube?

      • Homestar is pretty much the only type of content that you really need flash for. For everything else, it should be completely avoided.

        Thank you for saving me the trouble of determining what I should be viewing. There may be a position opening up for you in the future as CEO of a large company in Cupertino.

  • Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by farlukar ( 225243 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @04:35PM (#35446944) Homepage Journal
    A translator from one top-heavy system to another is not pretty. Who'd have thunk it?
    • A translator from one top-heavy system to another made by the company that has a vested interested in the source system, which happens to be proprietary, is not pretty. Who'd have thunk it?

  • "Hey, here's a cool new idea you'll love... too bad you can't actually use it yet."

  • A dingo. Spare me the annoying ads on the iPad.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We need to encourage people to start writing in HTML5 natively and stop trying to bandaid everything.
    • Great idea, I'll just fire up one of the many widely used and well supported HTML5 authoring applications...
      Oh wait...
      • by dingen ( 958134 )
        Oh wait what? What kind of obscure editor are you using that a HTML5 syntax highlighting plugin hasn't been developed yet?
  • Clean HTML (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sdguero ( 1112795 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @05:04PM (#35447284)
    "the generated code is clean and concise -- far superior to the Save as HTML feature of Microsoft Word, for example."

    Hahaha, not really saying a lot there buddy. My dog can write better HTML than M$ Word.
  • I've always been a bit frustrated that the community has been a bit shaky about distinguishing HTML5 as a video platform and HTML5 as a platform for building interactive applications. In the former context, HTML5 seems like a sure winner, especially given that flash for video was really a hackish (but necessary) expedient and not a great design choice. In the latter case, however, I have yet to see good examples of the sort of deep web applications in HTML5 that you can build with flash, to the extent that

    • A quick search net me: []

      It's a work in progress, but considering that HTML5 isn't standard or ubiquitous... I find it interesting that they've done so much in such time.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I have often wondered if packaging movies what a major profit center for Flash, and this is why there is so much competition for alternative movie encapsulation schemes. For instance, Silverlight provides similar functionality but encapsulating movies for Netflix seems to be it's claim to fame.

      About the only other advantage that Flash has is that most browser will run Flash content without explicit permissions, and the Flash setting do not allow the opportunity for the user to hold Flash content until wa

      • Of course, most browsers have Flash Block as a plugin, and sliverlight does not have such a plugin, so this may mean that Silverlight will win that part, that is the ad part, of the market in the coming year.

        That seems highly unlikely. The lack of an equivalent to Flash Block is due to the unpopularity of Silverlight. If ads are delivered using Silverlight then the large plurality if not majority of people who don't have Silverlight installed won't see the ads, which defeats the purpose.

        Moreover, even assuming a sufficient critical mass of people eventually install Silverlight that advertisers will be willing to ignore users without it, it will take about thirty six seconds after advertisers start using it for

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Without movies, without ads, is there actually enough of a market for Flash to support development? And outside of these markets, are there actually a large number of applications that genuinely could not be done using open standards and non proprietary tools.

        What technology other than Flash do you recommend for producing something like Homestar Runner, Weebl and Bob, or most of the tons and games on Newgrounds?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Certainly no one has demoed anything nearly as sophisticated as Farmville (leaving aside the, ahem, merits of that particular insipid application) but I'm willing to imagine that's a matter of time.

      You serious? There are plenty of HTML5 games and applications much better than Farmville. Farmville of all things! At least use decent flash games.

      There is even an RTS done in Canvas that was posted on here a while back i'm sure. (somewhere at least, anyone remember the name?)
      WebGL-enabled games for Canvas, Quake(2 at that) was ported to that. That instantly beats any and every Flash game there is, period.
      Quake 2 WebGL on google code []

      The converter was probably gimped on purpose so people stick with Flas

      • The converter was probably gimped on purpose so people stick with Flash.

        Maybe, but I don't really see the point of that. They probably just haven't spent enough time polishing it yet.

        Adobe wants to promote Flash so that people will buy Flash Creator. But the output format is irrelevant to them. If people want HTML5, it's in their interest to make Creator output HTML5 -- because all they care is that people are buying Creator.

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        The converter was probably gimped on purpose so people stick with Flash.

        I doubt that. It doesn't really make sense. If I'm given a tool that outputs crappy HTML5, I already know I have the option of writing HTML5 by hand. Why would I create content in Flash, then export it to crappy HTML5, instead of just implementing the same content in HTML5 myself (if HTML5 is what I want)?

        Most of the stuff can be converted directly from ActionScript to JavaScript.

        Not really. Or at least, it's not necessarily easy to do. ActionScript and JavaScript are different enough now that it's not a one-to-one translation. Adobe may manage it in the future, but there's probabl

  • I thought jQuery was for distributing operations over the DOM using a CSS-like element selection syntax.

    Maybe they mean "interactivity with Javascript" (which is made easier to program with utilities like jQuery).

    • I thought jQuery was for distributing operations over the DOM using a CSS-like element selection syntax.

      it's not. it's a JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @06:20PM (#35448032)
    There is also an open source [] Flash runtime called "Gordon" [] that reads the SWF and executes the animation and events in a <canvas> element.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @06:25PM (#35448080) Journal

    Aside from all the unsupported features, what's interesting is the number of broken things that Adobe claims, at least, to be due to browser bugs. E.g.:

    "There is a known Webkit issue with complex timeline animations that crashes all Webkit browsers. This seems to increase in frequency with complex animations and on slower devices."

    "Prior [to 4.2] iOS versions have known masking issues with Wallaby generated HTML files."

    "Zooming in and out can cause odd artifacts in the browser. This is a bug in the browser."

    "Masked artwork sometimes displays a faint border around the masked area. This is a bug in the browser."

    "[in Safari] A few known animation issues with 'static' content dropping."

    also some of the things that they have supported, were implemented by browser-specific means:

    "The only supported Webkit browsers at this time are Chrome and Safari on OSX, Windows, and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod). Because Wallaby uses Webkit specific animation primitives, animation will not work and has not been tested on other browsers."

    So, um... what about HTML5 as the purported Flash replacement, then, if a good chunk of functionality is simply not there or is browser-specific, and even of the stuff that is supposed to work, a lot does not in current browsers, because, apparently, no-one had actually tried it with the level of complexity common for Flash apps?

    • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

      What's your point? Flash is old ans HTML5 is young? Was it really necessary to write a 11 line post to make your point?

      • Every time the issue of Flash vs HTML5 comes up on Slashdot, there is a slew of upmodded posts explaining how Flash is already not relevant and should be discovered, and how HTML5 can fully replace any legitimate use of Flash. I'm pointing out that this doesn't seem to be the case.

        • by olau ( 314197 )

          Every time the issue of Flash vs HTML5 comes up on Slashdot, there is a slew of upmodded posts explaining how Flash is already not relevant and should be discovered, and how HTML5 can fully replace any legitimate use of Flash. I'm pointing out that this doesn't seem to be the case.

          I think it's optimism mostly. A lot of people hate Flash for various reasons, many of them perhaps having to do with its perceived lack of stability, at least on Linux. So naturally people are just waiting for the moment where they can drop Flash without missing out. I'm in that category. :)

          But I'm totally with you on readiness - I made an animation example last year, and the conclusion then was that you can't have big images moving in HTML without occasional flickering in any of the browsers I tried, and t

  • ...that we would eventually get rid of all those annoying Flash ads.

    I mean... have you really seen Flash being used for anything else but ads? Really. Especially those annoying ones that make all sorts of noises until you click them. The good uses of Flash I've seen are very very limited. As a developer there was even a time I was very keen on learning Flex myself. But in the end I'm very thankful Apple chose NOT to support it on their mobile devices.

    I'd hate to see those ad-creators have a nice tool in the

    • by maxume ( 22995 )

      It shouldn't be that hard to adapt Flashblock and the like to stop the canvas tag.

      And I expect browsers will quickly offer basic audio defaults so that pages don't blare audio the second they are loaded.

  • For the stupid sites which make their website navigation menu buttons using Flash, this should be obligatory! Surely Flash menu buttons can't be too difficult to convert.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?