Good discussion, guys, and I'm happy to participate. Of course, you probably know where I stand on this issue. The top request that I receive for converters is easily SWF to WPF/XAML. But, it's not that folks want to wholeheartedly convert everything,
because that doesn't often make sense. They want to use some of their existing assets in a new WPF application. After all, WPF isn't primarily an animation system...it's a way to develop next-generation applications and user experiences.
I'm obviously not an Adobe/Macromedia spokesperson (perhaps someone from Adobe can add to this discussion), but I'll tell you what I currently understand about the FLA and SWF file formats. The FLA file format is a proprietary and closed format, and as far
as I know, there is no specification available for it. The SWF is simply the published version of a FLA file. The file specification is available at (seemingly) no cost from Adobe, so price isn't the issue. But, if anything is documented and available, it
is clearly the SWF format.
Although I can't peer into the FLA file and make any sense of it, I'd speculate that it contains a lot of useful authoring information that would make a conversion (like the one SWF2XAML implements) much more straightforward. As a matter of fact, it's the first
thing I looked at when I began my experimentation months ago. By the way, there is nothing that I've seen in the SWF format that ever encrypts or scrambles the content for protection.
Another way to think about the relationship between FLA and SWF is this: in Photoshop, I save my project files with a PSD file extension (Photoshop's native format), but when I publish them, I can publish to a number of formats: JPG, GIF, PNG, etc. There's
nothing inherently "protected" about the bits in these files. As a matter of fact, any standard web browser can parse and display them. But, just because you can right-click on an image on a web page and select "Save As...", does that mean that web browsers
were built to enable people to steel copyrighted material from others? Of course not.
There is a clear difference between a tool's features and abilities and what a person can legally do with the tool. For example, photocopiers, VCRs, and cameras aren't (by themselves) illegal. But, a person can certainly perform illegal acts with all of them.
In the case of the companies I'm referring to (who I'd name, except I'm not sure they'd want me to), they simply don't have the original FLA files. There's nothing nefarious about their motives. You'd recognize every one of the companies, and I doubt you'd
believe that their motives were anything but legitimate.
The SWF2XAML tool is simply a way to reduce the challenges a customer or partner may have in reusing their assets.