[PC-BSD Testing] Smokescreen Project Promises ‘Flash Without the Plug-in’

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.org
Fri Jun 4 02:31:10 PDT 2010

On 06/04/2010 13:23, Jeff wrote:
>   Smokescreen Project Promises ‘Flash Without the Plug-in’
>   <http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/06/smokescreen-project-promises-flash-without-the-plug-in/>
>     * By Michael Calore <http://www.webmonkey.com/author/snackfight/>
>     * WebMonkey
> <http://smokescreen.us/demos/sb45demo.html>
> A new open source project converts Flash animations to 
> JavaScript/HTML5 on the fly, allowing them to be viewed in any modern 
> web browser without the use of a plug-in.
> The new project is called Smokescreen <http://smokescreen.us/>, and 
> it’s the creation of a programmer named Chris Smoak. Basically, 
> Smoak’s code dissects the SWF binaries (the meat of any Flash 
> animation) and re-renders all the elements as web standards-compliant 
> code as the animation plays. If you’re producing Flash animations, you 
> don’t need to futz with your code or redeploy any SWFs.
> There are several demos on Smoak’s site. We like this Strongbad 
> example <http://smokescreen.us/demos/sb45demo.html> the best.
> Simon Willison, a programmer and blogger, has an excellent high-level 
> technical description of the behind-the-scenes stuff on his website 
> <http://simonwillison.net/2010/May/29/smokescreen/>:
>     Smokescreen runs entirely in the browser, reads in SWF binaries,
>     unzips them (in native JS), extracts images and embedded audio and
>     turns them in to base64 encoded data:uris, then stitches the
>     vector graphics back together as animated SVG. Open up the Chrome
>     Web Inspector while the demo is running and you can see the SVG
>     changing in real time. Smokescreen even implements its own
>     ActionScript bytecode interpreter.
> Smoak says he will be releasing Smokescreen under an open-source 
> license soon. For now, we have some pretty slick demos. It’s not 
> perfect, but it’s a clear vision of what a Flash-free future would 
> look like.
> Obviously, this bit of code won’t work for Flash videos. But there are 
> already HTML5 workarounds 
> <http://www.webmonkey.com/2010/05/handy-guide-to-detecting-support-for-html5/> 
> for those. Smoak says <http://smokescreen.us/about/> his original goal 
> was to build something that would let Flash-based banner ads play on 
> the iPhone and iPad. As noble as those intentions are (cough), the 
> possible use cases for Smokescreen extend beyond advertising.
> Once optimized and streamlined, it could be used for games. Willison 
> notes that news site infographics are a juicy target. It could also be 
> used for rendering cartoon-like animations, such as the Strongbad 
> episode in the demo. We’d love to see the classic /Sex Slave/ series, 
> originally built in Flash/Shockwave, reborn in HTML5.
> There are concerns about how well Smokescreen will run on mobiles with 
> slower, less-powerful processors. Again, we can expect to see 
> improvements once the code is open sourced. Also, only the latest 
> browsers are invited to the party for now — you’ll need Firefox 3.6, 
> Chrome 5, Safari 4 or MobileSafari to experience the magic. It almost 
> works in Opera 10.5x. IE8 is not supported, but Smoak says IE9 “looks 
> promising.”

I ran through their site the other day, and it is very impressive work. 
Works just great in FF 3.6.3 on PC-BSD, much better than linux emulated 
flash. I'm already having visions of this being turned into a plugin for 
firefox, so we can just ignore the flash plugin altogether :)

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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