authorware to swf experiment

Lately I’ve been experimenting with generating swf files from Authorware XML in order to display Authorware content in the Flash Player. Using a couple of the recently released open source Flash tools I’ve managed to cobble together a basic implementation.

The first step in this process was to create a set of XSL files to transform the input xml to swfml, the XML dialect used by swfmill. Employing the XSL processor that Daniel Fischer has included in swfmill I’ve been able to convert display icons described in Authorware XML (awxml) to swfml which is in turn used to generate a corresponding swf. Currently all the native Authorware drawing tool shapes are being generated as well as png and jpeg images. Text requires a bit of a hack as the text objects are exported by Authorware as rtf which needs to be converted to html before the awxml to swfml transformation. That is done manually – atleast for now.

As well I’ve assembled a set of ActionScript classes to parse the awxml and simulate the logic of the Authorware icons and flowline. As it stands I have the basics of a framework icon, simple navigate icons (next & previous), interactions with hot object responses and display icons. These classes are then compiled into the swf using the Motion-Twin ActionScript 2 Compiler (MTASC).

To demonstrate I’ve assembled a page that embeds a sample Authorware piece that comforms to the icon structure this awxml2swf process currently requires (essentially display icons hanging from a framework) as well as embedding the resulting swf (you may recognize the media from the learning Authorware tutorial). You’ll need the Authorware Web Player 2004 (link) to view the Authorware content. I’ll let you use your detective skills to determine which is Authorware and which is Flash ;-) That sample is here.

When I get a bit more free time I’ll try to get the various pieces together in a package and maybe describe the steps involved in some more detail. As I mentioned, I consider all of this experimental – I was curious to investigate the possibilities.

update: the files and some notes on the steps to the use them are here.

7 Responses

  1. Fran Peruzzi says:

    June 16, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    Andrew, wow! This looks like a great experiment. Are you planning on it becoming a full project?

  2. andrew says:

    June 17, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Fran,
    Thanks for your interest. That is the question isn’t it ;-) At this point I really don’t know the answer. Putting this little bit together has made me recognize some of the compromises that would most likely need to made. Before taking that step I think it will be important to look at the limitations (in terms of fidelity of the ‘conversion’, for example). Regardless I will make whatever has been / will be done available to the community.

  3. TA says:

    June 30, 2005 at 5:06 pm


    This is a great experiment. I know it’s been talked about for quite some time. Do you think MM is thinking about outputting to SWF?

  4. andrew says:

    July 2, 2005 at 10:42 am

    Thanks Tom.

    I would suspect MM have given it some serious consideration, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of requests from the Authorware community. While a significant undertaking, it seems feasible doesn’t it? (with compromises like dropping “beyond the sandbox” APIs – eg. trusting mode functions. Supporting the scripting languages will be a real challenge too). Unfortunately recent history makes it’s difficult to believe MM will invest the resources required to do it properly. I’m trying to be diplomatic here ;-)

    Personally I’m not convinced outputting from Authorware (as it exists today) to SWF is some sort of “holy grail”. All I see us gaining is a more pervasive Player. What do you think?

  5. steven tan says:

    November 4, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I have tried and thanks for your great pointers.

    I have run into a problem with internal embede flash files in AW. Wheh we export the assets, the flash file is not exported. Do you know any way of extractong them?

  6. sepid says:

    October 18, 2007 at 6:56 am

    Hi Andrew,
    Is there any other way for converting authorware project to .swf files??

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