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Adobe Wallaby addresses Flash controversy

Apple’s Steve Jobs shook up the Internet community last year when he banned Adobe’s Flash from the iPad, anointing HTML5 as a most efficient and less power-hungry technology for viewing video on portable computing devices.

Now, Adobe Labs has unveiled a new free tool called Wallaby that will convert Flash into HTML5. Originally demonstrated at Adobe’s MAX 2010 conference, the conversion process is currently workable but rough, said Tom Barclay, Adobe Flash senior product manager.

“HTML5 will be an important technology for banner ads and Web publishing,” he said. But, the Adobe executive added, all types of content developers that require complex interactivity also use Flash.

As Wallaby works now, the user selects a Flash-formatted file and hits “convert.” Wallaby changes the file into HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Most of the Flash file will get converted, Barclay said, including most drawing elements, fills, shape tweens, motion tweens, symbol names and instance names. And because it’s built on Adobe’s Air platform, both Mac- and Windows-based developers can use it.

The built-in logging tool tells users which elements were not converted. Barclay said Adobe Systems is looking for feedback from developers before it decides if it will add support for the more complicated aspects of HTML5 at a later date.

“Developers can add interactivity after the conversion using JQuery and JavaScript,” Barclay said. The initial goal of the tool, he added, is to support banner ad development on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, because Apple has no plans to allow its iOS to support Flash.

He said, however, that the HTML5 output would be appropriate for any WebKit-based mobile browser, on which Android’s default browser is built.

With HTML5 standards still in development, Adobe is trying to ease the transition for developers who will inevitably have to use both technologies concurrently, at least for the foreseeable future.