Google Swiffy

Google Swiffy was a web-based tool developed by Google that converted SWF files to HTML5. Its main goal was to display Flash contents on devices that do not support Flash, such as iPhone, iPad, and Android Tablets. Swiffy was shut down July 1, 2016.[1]

Swiffy compare
Comparison between real Flash (left) and HTML5 (right).
This screenshot is taken using Google Chrome on the Google Swiffy demo page.


A closed source web service hosted by Google converts SWF to an intermediate representation serialized as JSON. This representation is in turn converted into SVG in the web browser via JavaScript, which is also used for animations. The Swiffy thesis (2012) explains its general approach in the following way:[2]:15

The choice of SVG for rendering leaves us with several options to animate the SVG content. At first sight, both CSS animation and SMIL, adhere to our design goal of using a declarative representation when possible. However, both technologies provide insufficient control over the animation when support for ActionScript scripting is required. For example, although the concept of keyframes exists in CSS animation, it does not provide a mechanism to synchronise the JavaScript code to those keyframes or to modify the timeline from JavaScript, which is a basic feature required for SWF compatibility. Another limiting factor is that animation in the SWF file itself is not defined in terms of high-level transitions, but defines the position of every object at specific keyframes. Mapping these definitions back onto CSS or SMIL transitions is not always possible. Finally, these standards are not widely available: The CSS animation specification is still in working draft state, while SMIL is not implemented in the Internet Explorer browser. We have therefore chosen to use JavaScript to animate SVG on the client. Although this imperative approach might be less efficient, the level of control it provides is required to match all SWF functionality.


Google Swiffy supported a subset of SWF 10, ActionScript 2.0 and ActionScript 3.0.

Supporting browsers


Swiffy was started in the summer of 2011 by Google engineering intern Pieter Senster, who joined their mobile advertising team to search for solutions to display Flash content on devices that do not support Flash. Progress on Swiffy was sufficient that Google hired him full-time and formed a team to work on the project. The product manager of Google Swiffy was Marcel Gordon.[3]

Swiffy 6.0.1 was released on February 11, 2014.

Swiffy was shut down July 1, 2016.[1]

Related software


  1. ^ a b "Google is killing its Swiffy tool for converting Flash files into HTML5 on July 1". 15 June 2016.
  2. ^ Pieter Albertus Mathijs Senster, The design and implementation of Google Swiffy: a Flash to HTML5 converter
  3. ^ "Swiffy: convert SWF files to HTML5 - The official Google Code blog". 28 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Shumway, Mozilla's HTML5-Based Flash Player Replacement, Lands In Firefox Nightly – TechCrunch".

External links

Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash is a deprecated multimedia software platform used for production of animations, rich Internet applications, desktop applications, mobile applications, mobile games and embedded web browser video players. Flash displays text, vector graphics and raster graphics to provide animations, video games and applications. It allows streaming of audio and video, and can capture mouse, keyboard, microphone and camera input. Related development platform Adobe AIR continues to be supported.

Artists may produce Flash graphics and animations using Adobe Animate. Software developers may produce applications and video games using Adobe Flash Builder, FlashDevelop, Flash Catalyst, or any text editor when used with the Apache Flex SDK.

End-users can view Flash content via Flash Player (for web browsers), AIR (for desktop or mobile apps) or third-party players such as Scaleform (for video games). Adobe Flash Player (supported on Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux) enables end-users to view Flash content using web browsers. Adobe Flash Lite enabled viewing Flash content on older smartphones, but has been discontinued and superseded by Adobe AIR.

The ActionScript programming language allows the development of interactive animations, video games, web applications, desktop applications and mobile applications. Programmers can implement Flash software using an IDE such as Adobe Animate, Adobe Flash Builder, Adobe Director, FlashDevelop and Powerflasher FDT. Adobe AIR enables full-featured desktop and mobile applications to be developed with Flash and published for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Wii U, and Switch.

Although Flash was previously a dominant platform for online multimedia content, it is slowly being abandoned as Adobe favors a transition to HTML5. Flash Player has been deprecated and has an official end-of-life at the end of 2020. However, Adobe will continue to develop Adobe AIR, a related technology for building stand-alone applications and games.

Adobe Wallaby

Adobe Wallaby is an application that turns FLA files into HTML5. On March 8, 2011, Adobe Systems released the first version of an experimental Flash (FLA files) to HTML5 converter, code named Wallaby. It has been quickly superseded by various other Adobe tools.

Comparison of HTML5 and Flash

HTML5 can generally be used as an alternative to Adobe Flash. Both include features for playing audio and video within web pages, It can also be used to play some basic HTML5 browser games and integrated vector graphics are possible with both.

"HTML5" in this article sometimes refers not only to the HTML5 specification, which does not itself define ways to do animation and interactivity within web pages, but to HTML5 and related standards like JavaScript or CSS 3. Animation via JavaScript is also possible with HTML 4.

List of Adobe Flash software

The following is a list of notable software for creating, modifying and deploying Adobe Flash and Adobe Shockwave format.

List of Google products

The following is a list of products and services provided by Google.

Shumway (software)

Shumway is a discontinued media player for playing SWF files. It was intended as an open-source replacement for Adobe Flash Player. It is licensed under Apache and SIL Open Font License (OFL). Mozilla started development on it in 2012. It is an improvement on an earlier project called Gordon; these names are an allusion to Flash Gordon and Gordon Shumway.Shumway renders Flash contents by translating Flash file contents to HTML5 elements, and running an ActionScript interpreter in JavaScript. It supports both AVM1 and AVM2, and ActionScript versions 1, 2, and 3.

Development of Shumway has effectively ceased. Although the project remains available on GitHub (see External links), in February 2016, the project was moved to the "Firefox Graveyard" and is thus considered defunct from Mozilla's point of view. Mozilla's strategy for the time being is to continue to support Adobe Flash, as an exception to its general policy of ceasing support for NPAPI plugins by the end of 2016.

The Virtual Disappearance of Miriam

The Virtual Disappearance of Miriam, created in 2000 by Martyn Bedford and Andy Campbell as part of the Ilkley Literature Festival, is an example of digital literature with a linear narrative that uses the digital medium, the computer screen, to aid the process of storytelling.The reader interacts with the narrative through the use of links and the four different segments of the narrative, "Missing You Already", "House of Sam", "Playing the Male Lead", and "Miriam". The reader moves through these linear stories following Luther's experience to find his missing girlfriend, Miriam. In each of the stories, Luther is faced with a digital environment, for example a computer game and Quentin Tarantino's movie set. These digital environments correspond to the digital medium of the text itself, and convey Miriam as a character who has disappeared virtually.

There are many different physical and material elements that make up the materiality of the narrative, such as images, design, colour, font, and audio.

In 2012 the work was experimentally converted to HTML5 by Andy Campbell using Google Swiffy allowing it to be viewed on devices which do not support the Adobe Flash Player plug-in.


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