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Greystripe Transcodes ActionScript Bytecode to HTML 5, making Flash Ads Available on the iPhone/iPad

by Dio Synodinos on Jun 10, 2010 |

Greystripe has announced that they are collaborating with Adobe to provide rich media, interactive ad solutions across Android, iPhone, iPad and other mobile web platforms. Part of their offering will involve a technology that will convert Flash ads to HTML 5 that target mobile devices like the iPhone, where the Flash plugin is not available.

The company’s announcement was made right after Apple announced their iAds offering, but takes a radically different approach:

The ad solution is comparable to Apple’s recently introduced iAds unit; however, unlike iAds, they will be authored with Adobe® Flash® authoring tools, priced at a fraction of the cost, and come in both expandable banner and full screen interstitial formats. Since Flash is the standard for developing rich media digital advertising, these solutions will give brand advertisers and digital agencies the ability to retain full control over ad development, reduce costs by preserving existing workflows while enabling support for HTML5, provide advertisers reach across all major desktop and mobile platforms, and decrease the time between ad concept and delivery.

Since there is little available information on this platform, InfoQ has conducted a small Q&A with a representative from Greystripe, about the technical aspects of their product:

InfoQ: Would you like to describe to us the development workflow for someone that wishes to use your platform? Is it the job of the designer or you need a developer?

Greystripe: We believe that ads should be created by creative designers, not programmers.  In our workflow, creative agencies create Flash ads in the same way they always have.  Our platform translates Flash files (in swf format) as necessary to render them on iDevices.

InfoQ: Do you translate between ActionScript and JavaScript at some point? Do you translate command-by-command or do you build the full Abstract Syntax Tree and optimize on that as GWT does for translating Java to JavaScript?

Greystripe: The creative agencies provide us binary swf files, not source fla files.  Our translation layer operates on Actionscript bytecodes, not Actionscript source, so it doesn’t operate on an AST.  Rather, we disassemble Actionscript bytecodes and decompile them to source-level Javascript.  For example, sequences of low-level branch Actionscript bytecodes are decompiled into source-level Javascript if/while/for statements as appropriate.

InfoQ: Will your platform work only for Safari, or will you be providing a compatibility layer for all browsers?

Greystripe: Our current plans are to support mobile Safari, since it is the only platform that does not (or will not in the near future) support native Flash.  We will consider other browsers in the future as appropriate.

InfoQ: Are there any limitations?

Greystripe: There are limitations to the Flash support, but the supported functionality covers the vast majority of ad content, based on our experience running hundreds of campaigns over the past two years.  At a high level, the limitations are similar to those of Flash Lite vs full Flash.

How do you handle things like video, audio?

Greystripe: Audio/video are extracted in a preprocessing stage and rendered using native HTML5 media controls.

You can find more information about HTML 5 and Flash right here on InfoQ.

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