Swiffy: Google's Flash-to-HTML5 escape hatch

Swiffy, a tool that converts most .SWF files into a more browser-friendly HTML5 format, is now available through Google Labs.

Google's commitment to HTML5 over Adobe Flash gets taken a step further with the Google Labs release of Swiffy, a tool that converts most .SWF files into a more browser-friendly HTML5 format.

It's not quite ready for prime time - Google's blog entry indicates that while Swiffy works fine for most Flash animations and advertisements (oh boy), it's going to be a while before it's able to convert every .SWF on the web reliably.

The way it works is simple: plug the .SWF file you need converted into Swiffy, and it outputs a JSON file, rendered using SVG and "a bit" of HTML5 and CSS3. The browser interprets the object as JavaScript. They say that the converted file is almost as small as the original Flash input, and it renders better in what Google calls "modern browsers" like Google Chrome and Apple Safari.

In Swiffy's FAQ, Google indicates that they're not sure whether or not they'll open source the project. And more interestingly, Google is indicating that Adobe not only knows about Swiffy - they're happy to see any project which can bring Flash content to smaller screens.

In fact, Google and Adobe look to be collaborating on ways to have ads and animations render in HTML or Flash depending on what the system has available.

This may be looking too far ahead, but Google may just be able to undercut the most common complaint about the Apple iPhone and iPad - that they don't run Adobe Flash - by making the difference largely transparent for end-users.