So… what do we do now with the old Flash content?

News about the imminent Flash demise are popping out everywhere you look at. The recent cancellation of Flash mobile is just a warning of what is to come. And the question that immediately came to my mind was: what with all the legacy content?

There’s a huge amount of stuff which has been programmed for Flash, for which we probably don’t have the .FLA sources anymore. What do we do with that in several years, when there isn’t an easy way to get an official Flash player which properly interacts with compiled .swf files?

For years projects like Gnash have been tried to build a free player that allowed people to run SWF files without having to go the Adobe route. But reverse engineering .swf is certainly a huge task, and sadly Gnash doesn’t support the latest SWF format versions.

At the same time, what do we do with .FLA files when we no longer can execute the Flash IDE? How do we export the assets, the code, the tweenings, and everything else?

Should we just wave goodbye to everything? Install virtual machines with old versions of operating systems? Isn’t all this a bit sad?

In any case this is an excellent example of why proprietary formats are bad, and is also a compelling reason to avoid them in the future.

I’m glad I just have a few .FLA based projects that I’d like to recover at some point, and they are relatively old anyway, so maybe with some sort of FLA to JS tool they can be easily reconstructed/exported, as they don’t use much fancy stuff.

Or so I think hope.

2 thoughts on “So… what do we do now with the old Flash content?

  1. It seems it’s not exactly a closed format now. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Flash:

    In June 2009, Adobe launched the Open Screen Project (Adobe link), which made the SWF specification available without restrictions. Previously, developers could not use the specification for making SWF-compatible players, but only for making SWF-exporting authoring software. The specification still omits information on codecs such as Sorenson Spark, however.

    Also,

    http://www.adobe.com/devnet/swf.html (flash 10 spec here, but 11 is only a month old)
    http://www.openscreenproject.org/about/publications.html

  2. I love how you’re playing devil’s advocate here! Wasn’t it you were the die-hard Linux fan? :-D

    Anyway, even if Flash is “not so closed” now, the lack of alternative players or editors proves that being “quite closed” for a long while is definitely not a good thing. If they had allowed people to write compatible tools, now we could just replace the official Flash player with an alternative one, and be equally happy, just as we are able to replace WinAmp with Audacious and keep playing the same music files.

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