February 11, 2004
Consequences Anybody?

Create True Type fonts out of the embedded outlines contained in swf files? It's strange that until today nobody has written a tool to accomplish that, because technically it's pretty easy and it is possible since Flash 2.0. The only hurdle is the True Type format itself because its structure is pretty complicated. Well, finally Burak Kalayci has done it: with the latest update of Actionscript Viewer 4.04 you are able to suck the fonts out of any swf file. My congratulations for being the first. I hope that this development will not turn out to be Pandora's Box.

Theoretically with ASV you are able to harvest all the swfs that are out there and grab all those fonts you want. As a starter for those who are daring I recommend the various websites of online font shops - some of them use flash to demonstrate their fonts, so you can grab the whole package. Of course that's illegal. So don't do this at home.

As long as you just use those outlines in other swf files there will even be no problem with their quality or kerning. If you plan to use them in print they will probably not be 100% perfect as some of the original font's information is missing.

So font developers and foundries will not be overly happy about this. I assume that one of the reasons that you are allowed to embed fonts in swf files for free is that until today it was "impossible" to reconstruct the fonts. With this hurdle now gone, I fear that in the near future with the next font you'll buy you might have to pay an extra license fee if you want to embed it in a Flash file or you might even be not allowed to embed it at all. I wonder what Macromedia thinks about this? John?

Posted at February 11, 2004 08:56 PM | Further reading

Here's our response on this:

We already had font outline extraction with ASV for quite a time, but Flash was not able to use those when rebuilding. What we now have is the same data just in another format.

As far as I'm aware, Flash itself (that is Macromedia) avoids issues by not importing the font exactly as it is. So what we are extracting is those outlines that are not the same as the original font and issues already taken care of by Macromedia.

Also font symbols in SWF files most of the time include only outlines used in the SWF. There will be no hinting, kerning if only there's a kerning table in the SWF, ASV uses the info in the SWF only.

Best regards,
Burak KALAYCI, Manitu Group

Posted by: Burak KALAYCI on February 11, 2004 09:26 PM

I along with many others have often failed to see the genuine and honest need for application like ASV - I am a student a stand to lose nothing from this application being out there and yet I still remain somewhat disapproving. In my experience it is so rare (as in never) that I or anyone I know has had need to rebuild a fla because they have lost or accidently deleted the original - if you are that stupid then you deserve the effort required to redo the whole thing. I'm not one for 'learning by decompiling' either - most of the cool flash tricks by the best guys in the business are either opensource or accompanied by tutorials. I only see asv as a method to undermine the security of flash which we all know isn't that secure anyway. Tools like asv are only going to make things worse in the industry in the long run. Burak is clearly very talented, I wish he'd use those talents to produce a range of products that actually secured flash movies further rather than tearing them to shreds.

Posted by: Jon B on February 11, 2004 10:35 PM

I completely disagree. I do Flash full time, 24/7. Last year, after working for months on a project, a catastrophic event meant the deletion of many of my source files in multiple locations. Approaching a signifigant deadline, I used a Flash decompiler to save me. I thank the people who write these programs... Although most of the time they are used for ill will, the one time that they save you, you will probably be singing a different song.

Posted by: Daniel Dura on February 11, 2004 10:58 PM

Backup, backup, backup - the three lessons ruthlessly drummed into us at university.

I accept your point tho, and I do believe that in certain circumstances there is a just cause for such applications as ASV. I'm sure if I was working on my final degree project and my house burnt down destroying my computer and all my backup CDs I would be clammering for something to rescue my hard work from the lone swf I uploaded to the internet for testing purposes.

That said you yourself admit that losing work is a rare occurence and that decompilers are mostly used for ill will. So I still believe that ASV and similar apps do more bad than good especially if the industries involved with flash whether it be font makers, e-commerce, RIA developers (etc.) all start to find new methods to achieve their goals and their security.

Reconstructing fonts, no matter how far from the original they are is not a good thing regardless of your other opinions of ASV. At least 95% of the time this functionality is only going to be used to steal other peoples fonts. Losing work is rare - irretrievably losing fonts is even rarer.

Posted by: Jon B on February 11, 2004 11:30 PM

Nobody likes stuff being stolen and misused, however there is nothing wrong with ASV. I always make back ups, but last month I was called whilst on holiday (in Florida miles from home) with a client in desperate need of changes to a swf before a conference. I didnt take all my fla files with me on holiday so my only option was to rebuild the fla from the swf. Within 2 hours i had rebuilt the fla and made the changes. I also needed the fonts because i was on an basic PC. As it happens i didnt have my copy of ASV or my details to download another version. So I had to use a hack that involved imperator trial version. Anyway the point remains.

Posted by: nick gerig on February 12, 2004 02:19 AM

A lot of foundries thought about that. Check out their license or their separate license for this specific case. For Exemple Agfa Monotype: http://www.fonts.com/embedding/

Don't forget that behind good typefaces, there are passionate hard-worker professionals. As I support independent music label, I support independent foundries. And if you are a real professional designer : buy your font ! Check out this site for more info : http://www.typeright.org/ You can buy fonts easily at a reasonable price for a life time use for example at http://www.myfonts.com or http://www.fontfont.com

By the way you can technically extract embedded font from PDF too.

Posted by: Ceer on February 12, 2004 05:40 AM

At fontfont.com you can just buy FF fonts (That's a great choice too). Fot the multi foundries choice, the shop is http://www.fontshop.com.

Posted by: Ceer on February 12, 2004 05:54 AM

At least nobody makes money from selling cracking tools. :)

Posted by: fuqnbastard on February 12, 2004 01:32 PM

Yes, buy your fonts! They are not expensive and your work deserveslegitimate resources. That includes fonts, sounds and software.

As to decompilers? Well, I have never used one but was very happy when a friend was able to pull a sound that I created out of an old swf. The fla was long gone on some ancient PC but the swf was still on the web.

It's like many things: should we not sell chocolate because I have no self-control and am fat? Hmm, maybe we should sue the tobacco industries . . .

Posted by: subQuark on February 12, 2004 05:17 PM

Mainly to JonB...

There is a completely legitimate use for tools like ASV and Sothink SWF Decompiler, etc... and I have struck it time and again with our clients.

The clients have had animations or menus created for their websites by Flash developers without a conscience, i.e. WANKERS! These toss-pots have refused to give their client, at the time, the source FLA file... offering some ludicrous claim of "intellectual property", or the existence of a "maintenance contract", or holding their client to ransom on the assumption they will continue to get work from them, or some other weak excuse.

Anyway, time passes and things change, and the client wants changes to their site... well, guess what? The original developer has disappeared, or has now made his or her millions and "doesn't do that sort of stuff anymore", or they're still desperately hanging on to their "precious IP".

So, the client has to find a new developer...
Well, who in their right @&#&^@ mind is going to rebuild a Flash project from scratch, for the sake of some minor changes? Sure, they no doubt would do a better job than the original twerp, given the time and resources, but that's not the real world.
And the idea of the decompilers is to extract the resources again... the FLA file still needs to be rebuilt.


Posted by: AxMan on March 16, 2004 05:03 AM

'Fonts are not expensive?'
All the classics are so expensive as to be out of the reach of everyone but huge design houses.
For instance, the Helvetica VALUE pack clocks in at EUR 481,40 inc. VAT.
I advocate buying reasonably priced fonts from independent foundries, but that price is ridiculous.

Posted by: 8eer on January 18, 2005 11:53 PM

i have failed to delet files on my flash disk

Posted by: ssemwanga on November 7, 2005 05:23 PM
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