Playing Flash in Java

Summary: No news here, just some historical context on current events.

Ran across a press release today, titled “Java Application to play Adobe Flash Contents on low cost mobile phones without Adobe Flash Lite”. I went to the website and downloaded PDFs, but didn’t learn which parts of the SWF were rendered.

It’s a reasonable initiative… lots of people are already comfortable creating SWF, so a licensor of a Java implementation can add to their pool of content developers by interpreting SWF. JFlash is another such SWF-in-Java project. I don’t know of anything preventing anyone from writing a translator from SWF to JavaFX, XAML, SVG or whatever.

The key question, of course, is the subset of SWF functionality which would be translated. I didn’t immediately see a list at either of the above sites. It’s like writing an Ajax app; you’d have to test your instructions atop each variant runtime engine. Not impossible, just a little extra cost.

Macromedia distributed a Java runtime ‘way ‘way back… I think it was towards Flash Player 3 days. There was pretty good fidelity (for the limited feature set ;-) but it was dropped from the distribution catalog when features like alpha transparency and .MP3 support pushed too hard at the edges.

While searching for links still live on the web I came across this 2003 press release, about how Sun would be distributing Macromedia Flash Player in Java Desktop System. Now you can win trivia contests with your friends…. ;-)

(btw, there are some other news articles today about BSQUARE porting “Flash technology” to Android-driven phones. It’s a little unclear to me… I know BSQUARE has worked with Macromedia and Adobe on specific porting projects (look! a 2001 press release!) but I don’t see them in the list of current partners at the Open Screen Project. I’m not sure of the BSQUARE details, but do know that work to get the current Player 10 on Android and other devices is still proceeding.)

Update, May 1: Closing comments on this entry… it’s apparently high in the search engines on “Why is my Android mobile so late?” or such. (Related: an old entry on a desktop runtime for a television show which continued to attract dozens of commenters who didn’t know where they were, and didn’t bother to check.)