Adobe on Monday released Wallaby, experimental software that enables Flash-based programs to function on Apple’s iOS-based devices without the prohibited use of the Flash runtime.

Wallaby is an Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) program for Mac and Windows that uses drag-and-drop to automatically transform Flash Professional files into HTML editable files, according to Chitra Mittha, senior product marketing manager for Flash Professional. It is available as a free release through Adobe Labs. The company is looking for feedback from developers on its practicality and value.

“Simple animations and ads can be transformed into HTML for WebKit browsers,” Mittha said. She cautioned that HTML does not support all of the features accessible in Flash Professional at this point in time, and that these assets are identified by Wallaby in a pop-up box during the conversion. Also, there are numerous features in Flash that Wallaby cannot convert to HTML.

Wallaby uses CSS, HTML and SVG to transform the Flash player file into a workable HTML program. There are limitations on these converted files, however. According to the company, ActionScript doesn’t convert; blends and filters are not supported yet; and audio and video files do not convert because Wallaby has separate tags for those. Additionally, Wallaby is not intended to handle games or videos.
Developers can take those converted Flash assets and use them in new HTML applications, with CSS and SVG coding incorporated, said Rik Cabanier, Adobe senior computer scientist for Flash Professional.

The primary use case for Wallaby today, according to Cabanier and Mittha, is mainly for WebKit-based browsers or iOS devices. Cabanier said colors, animations, sub-animations and small movies can be converted using the Wallaby tool, and then users can determine if they want to edit the unsupported assets or recreate them in HTML.

Cabanier continued, saying that Wallaby also shows exactly where an unsupported asset occurred; for example, if it’s at a filter, it will not be supported in Wallaby, and developers will see where in the Flash file the filter is deployed, then go back in and change every instance.

“Wallaby is an experimental technology that we put out for our customers to give us feedback, and our hope is to evaluate the future of Wallaby based on customer input,” said Mittha. “The idea is to be open about it with our community and decide on [when to add features], and to be open [to suggestions from the Flash developer community].”

Michael Coté, an analyst at RedMonk, said that Wallaby may help people interested in using Flash on iOS.

“The converter takes in Flash content and outputs HTML5-friendly animations. Presumably, publishers and others have advertising and other entertainment features they’d like to start using in those browsers,” he said.

“For the most part, that means mobile and tablet targeting, with the most interest in iOS devices I’d wager. I don’t think too many people are clamoring to do this kind of stuff on the desktop in Safari and Chrome where Flash works just fine. Adobe is probably hoping to give current users the ability to stay with Adobe instead of going to new tool chains to deliver what they’d call ‘rich content’ on these new types of devices.”

He added that Adobe has been responding well to the growing interest in HTML5, and that Wallaby is proof of that. “While it’s easy to dismiss HTML5 as a motley crew of not-yet ratified standards and practices, it’s largely come to mean Web-based apps that work on the Web and iOS,” Coté said.

“Developers want to use HTML5 because they see it as future-proof (if it’s a standard, it will work on many different platforms), cool, it builds on their existing HTML/AJAX/JavaScript skills, and because it looks to be a widely applicable skill.”