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Ad network uses open source to solve Apple/Adobe Flash fight

Smokescreen promises to automatically convert Flash to JavaScript/HTML5 - enabling advertisers and developers to stick with what they know.

By Amy Vernon on Fri, 06/04/10 - 4:17pm.

One of the biggest catfights in recent computing history could be resolved with a little help from open source.

Apple, you see, now hates Adobe. You're not gonna see anything rendered in Flash on your iPhone or iPad - ever, most likely. Many developers are scrambling to redo sites using HTML5 so the lucrative Apple market can see their graphics and, particularly, their advertising.

Enter Smokescreen.


The source code hasn't been released, but Smokescreen's developers promise that will happen within a couple of weeks.

When it does, it promises to eliminate the need for heavy lifting, by automatically converting Flash to JavaScript/HTML5. (Some still question whether it'll be able to do the job for anything but the simplest Flash, and think HTML5 will become the new standard.)

I tried some of their demos on my iPhone and they run very slowly, as noted on each appropriate demo.

It's not as if the Smokescreen developers are utterly altruistic in their motives. They're RevShock, a mobile ad network. But that's fine. They say so right on their "About" page — and it's smart. The company obviously wants to position itself to be a player in mobile advertising; what better way than to solve one of the biggest mobile advertising issues at the moment?

A couple of commenters on their blog criticized them for not putting the code on GitHub yet, but they wouldn't be the first to want to finish the lion's share of the project before releasing the source code (see Diaspora, which also has come under some criticism).

Once it's released, it will start off supporting "a sizable subset of Flash 8 animation capabilities, streaming sound, sound effects, some input, and basic ActionScript." They have a bunch of demos linked to on the site, showing formerly Flash ads rendered as JavaScript and HTML5. They work in Firefox 3.6, Chrome 5, Safari 4 and MobileSafari. They're working on Opera 10.5, but haven't had success on Internet Explorer ("though IE9 looks promising," they note).

Could this break the impasse between Adobe and Apple? If it becomes easy (and free) to convert from Flash to something iPhone/iPad-compatible, then the threat that people might abandon Flash is lifted.

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