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What is an SWF Decompiler?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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An SWF decompiler is a computer program used to decompile SWF files created using a program like Flash™. These files are often multimedia files that can include animation, video, audio, and still images that can be played through various programs and web browsers. Without using any other program, however, these files cannot be taken apart to access the individual components that make up the images and sounds played as an SWF file. An SWF decompiler can be used to convert the SWF file into a raw data file that can then be utilized to make changes to the file or to make copies of audio and images used in the SWF file.

Without the use of an SWF decompiler or similar program, an SWF file can be viewed, but cannot be altered or deconstructed in any meaningful way. SWF files are created through a program such as Flash™, which was originally called “Shockwave Flash™.” Though Shockwave is no longer associated with the Flash™ format, the files created through the program retain the original file type. These files are multimedia files that can be played through a variety of programs and web browsers in order to view the video and hear the audio assembled in the file.

The raw data used to create an SWF file is compiled into the file and is relatively inaccessible without an SWF decompiler. By using an SWF decompiler, a computer user can convert an SWF file, which basically exists only as a finished product, into a raw data file that is similar to what was used in creating the SWF file. This raw data can then be accessed to make changes to the Flash™ video or to access the images and sounds used to create the video. Depending on the nature of the SWF decompiler used, it can also allow a user to manipulate the raw data from the converted file.

An SWF decompiler will typically convert an SWF file into a Flex or FLA file. This file can then be used with other programs, typically Flash™, to make changes to the file or create a new project entirely. The changed files can then be compiled into a new SWF file for play and distribution through the Internet or other media. An SWF decompiler can also potentially be a somewhat simpler program that will not convert the SWF to a different file type, but instead allow a user to copy the source images and audio that have been compiled into an SWF to then create new projects using that raw data.

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